Wednesday, March 13, 2019
Day 3: Women are not Alone!
I spent my entire day in the United Nations Headquarters building. I would not have ever imagined doing that. Today I attended four different side events but for the purpose of this blog post I will focus on one in particular; "Sharing of Best Practices on Social Protection Systems in the Southern African Development Community with a focus on HIV/AIDS and women and girls". In this side event the topic of discussion was the how's women and girls are getting infected with these diseases and what can be done about it. By weekly in the South Africa regions 7, 000 women get infected with HIV. In 2016 South Africa started a positive reaction in ways of prevention for HIV. To this extent, they found various of ways young women and men are being infected; one way being younger girls who are not able to attend school would date older men to maintain a lifestyle of being getting taken care of, Treatment also has not been available to lower class citizens within the south African regions. Women of the age of 20-24 are highly infected but then there is a age gap of 15-19 that do not know they may be infected. One of the major challenges in this is the exposure of people knowing their status could come with torture. There were statics given that 3.7 million people are attending therapy or counseling for coping or living with HIV.
What was most mind-blowing about this session was Reverend Balloou's outlook on HIV from a male perspective. I quote "Women are the face of HIV but it is Men who are the face of dying from HIV". This stuck with me, as I sat with eyes, ears and heart ready to hear what he had to say next I could not have agreed more with that statement and it made me say WOMEN ARE NOT ALONE; not only how women and young girls are getting HIV/AIDS but so are men and boys. Women will verbalize or share and talk about their status, men will not. Men gain knowledge of their status from women. The problem with this is that the narrative of a man has yet to be changed. Women that are getting infected are from Men in Power. There has been a normalization of the notion regarding male violence, and men are not held accountable. They also refuse due to culture to go tot he doctors and or show any signs of being "human", by this I mean showing emotion and feelings. The intersection between gender based violence and HIV has to come into play.
In addition when it comes to policy making and resolution on how HIV/AIDS can be prevented and the statics can be lowered has to include those who are getting affected by it. The Policy environment has to change. There are massive gaps in promoting policy in states Statutory laws and other laws. There is a Disconnect between laws of legislation. Age of consent from a parent and then free to all. It is Bias. In South Africa and countries all around the world there has to be a capacity given for young women and men where there voices in how they can be helped in treatment for HIV/AIDS rather than just having them voice a opinion and the policy makers chose if they want to listen and have them back in a cycle of control. There cannot be anything for them, without them.
In my opinion, after attending this session, the first step to prevention and decreasing the amount of women and men and girls and boys starts with a conversation followed by action. I also think that men should be exposed more to events and conferences that are about women so that they can learn how to be a man, it could be the step to changing this normalization of what a man is suppose to be. In every women's conference or event I've been to, there is maybe two men in the room. This should change. Women issues are everyone issues.
- Zybrea M. Knight