JASS Southern Africa Gallery

On April 21st, 15 women activist leaders who are driving the Our Bodies, Our Lives Campaign met with Malawian parliamentarians to put positive women’s issues front and centre on the national HIV/AIDS agenda including the need for comprehensive treatment literacy. The campaign leaders also gave voice to the need for universal access to antiretroviral treatment and healthcare and resources that ensure Malawians have the means to adhere to their treatment regimens. This was a powerful opportunity for the campaign to help shape the critical Malawi HIV and AIDS Management Bill, and push government representatives to prioritise HIV and AIDS financing as per constitutional guidelines. Hopeful for the future, Sibongile Singini of MANERELA+ (who convened the meeting as part of the JASS partnership) says, “I am excited about the commitment from the parliamentarians. They are willing to act with us and to let us set the agenda. Nationally and at district level, they have promised that they are here and will listen to us.”

“Many of us women might say, I’ve been abused and believe that it’s just my husband without realising that it’s a system,” says activist, Primrose Kavhumbura. “But there’s a link—what we see in our families is linked to culture, tradition, the state. We need to go back and teach women this, then we start from ourselves, our families, our communities and then our country.” Along with 19 other feminist activists, Primrose participated in a feminist movement builder’s school convened by JASS Southern Africa and Katswe Sistahood in Zimbabwe. It was a dynamic week of sharing and learning how women are challenging what it means to be a “good woman” and breaking the silence on sex, sexuality and violence in their communities. 

The Our Bodies, Our Lives Campaign for Better ARVs has grown from strength to strength since its inception in 2012. JASS Southern Africa gathered over 18 Malawian partners and allies to reflect on three years of organizing alongside the women activist leaders who drive the campaign within their communities by standing up and speaking out for alternative ARVs, better healthcare and the resources to sustain their lives and livelihoods. For the women, the tangible fruits of this campaign and more than a decade of HIV-AIDS organizing are a strong marker that a movement is not built by one organization but through the learning, sharing, exchange and collaboration of many.

Over 40 women activist leaders came together to blow the lid open on sex, sexuality, power, and the silence and stigma around pleasure and women’s bodies at 2 regional Malawi Feminist Movement Builders Schools in the northern and central regions of the country.

Thirty women activists met at the JASS Malawi Feminist Movement Builders School to dig deep into feminist analysis, principles and practice. For one woman activist leader, the school embodied, ‘revolutionary change, I know that this change begins with me and if I work with my sisters, we can make a better world.’

Over 250 women activists from across the continent gathered in Lilongwe, Malawi in September 2013 to forge a new path in women’s leadership. The Women Steering Innovative Leadership in Africa Conference was an exciting space for exploding traditional notions of women’s activism and leadership, linking women across generations and contexts to think about leadership for transformation. 

On the heels of the Constitutional referendum, JASS SNA Regional Coordinator, Shereen Essof  launched her book, SheMurenga: The Zimbabwe Women’s Movement 1995-2000 in Harare and led a five women panel of dynamic and storied feminist activists spanning generations of organizing in Zimbabwe.

 

Over two days, more than 140 HIV positive women activists met in Malawi to celebrate the campaign they built to access to better ARVs and treatment literacy. As a prelude to the Global Race to SAVE Lives Conference, the national dialogue was a great opportunity for women to share and reflect as well as strategise.

JASS’ widely-recognizable symbol speaks right to the heart of women across the region. From rural activists in Northern Malawi to young women in Lusaka, the call to “cross the lines” of inequality and oppression rings true. See JASS SNA in action.