Empowering Women and Their Participation in the Fight against HV/AIDS

The month of March is special because it is the month when we celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD). It is the day when we all express our respect, appreciation and admiration for the women from all parts of the world. The United Nations decides on what theme the IWD will be focusing on, and this year it was “Empower Women – End Hunger and Poverty”.

Looking at the first part of the slogan, that is “Empower Women”, we find that a lot of the problems that we are facing in the world today could be solved by enforcing these two words. While empowering the women of the world and enabling them to be the main breadwinners of their homes will definitely be the tool to end hunger and poverty, it can also be the means by which mankind can defeat diseases that have been ravaging us for decades, a good example being HIV/AIDS.

As we all know, the most effective tool that has been found to combat this disease is awareness. For the better part of the last few decades, mankind has been dying from sheer lack of information on the disease. And even when it was discovered that people’s lives could be saved by simply informing them about the disease and its transmission methods, the number of new infections still kept rising.

Here in Africa, because of the traditional acquiescent role of women, it was only the men that could be reached when communities were needed to be educated on the subject. It was the men that were seen as being “bold” enough to taking the first step to go to a meeting or conference on HIV/AIDS. For a woman to be seen anywhere near these areas was a definite way to becoming ostracized by family and her community as a whole. Even as science proved that women were twice as likely to get infected with HIV/AIDS, they were kept in the dark about the basics of prevention.

Today, as women start to step forward to take on their long-deserved leading positions in life and society, they are beginning to learn that if the family is to survive, especially in communities all over Africa where the men cannot be bothered with the day-to-day affairs of the home, women need to protect themselves from this disease. The effect of a mother dying is felt much more in their families than the death of the father; he would be left totally helpless when faced with family issues and caring of their children.

Therefore, by empowering the women in our societies, we make sure that some sort of continuity and then flourishing of our own kind is assured. Kudos to women!

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