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Learning the Meaning of HIV and AIDS and Gender - Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Learning the Meaning of HIV and AIDS and Gender - Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

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Published by Oxfam

The Gender AIDS Forum (GAF) is a Durban based South African Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) committed to enabling a deeper consciousness in women and men about the links between gender and HIV and AIDS. GAF is an activist organisation, a learning organisation and a knowledge creating organisation.

This case study outlines the development of the organisation, their approach and programs, and explores

The Gender AIDS Forum (GAF) is a Durban based South African Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) committed to enabling a deeper consciousness in women and men about the links between gender and HIV and AIDS. GAF is an activist organisation, a learning organisation and a knowledge creating organisation.

This case study outlines the development of the organisation, their approach and programs, and explores

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Published by: Oxfam on May 14, 2014
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Case StudyNumber Three
Learningthe meaning of HIVand AIDS andGender -yesterday,today and tomorrow-
Organisation:Gender AIDS Forum (GAF), Durban, South AfricaEdited by:Margaret Roper 
ISBN 1-875870-59-8
JOHAP
The Joint Oxfam HIV/AIDS Program in South Africa seeks to strengthen the civil society response to HIV/AIDS through supporting integrated community-based services for HIV prevention and care, including a focus on gender and sexuality and the rights of people living with, and affected by, HIV/AIDS.
IrelandDeutschland
Aseries of reports on the Joint Oxfam HIV/AIDS Program (JOHAP) 2005
 
Acknowledgements
GAF would like to thank the staff,volunteers, participants and partner organisations for their contribution to thecase studies.Without their solidarity andsupport these stories could not be sharedwith others.Thanks also to the editor Margaret Roper for her contribution.Thanks to the photographer Matthew Willmanwhose outstanding images show thoseinvolved in the projects.Thanks are also extended to the staff of the Joint Oxfam HIV/AIDS Program(JOHAP) for their sponsorship and supportof this research.The opinions of authors or participants in this document do not necessarily reflectthose of Oxfam Australia, Oxfam Affiliates,JOHAP or its staff.This document is one of a number of publications highlighting learning during the second phase of JOHAP (April 2002-March 2005).If you wish to read theseplease go to the following web address;One of the strategies employed by JOHAPto strengthen the quality of the civil societyresponse to HIV and AIDS is to strengthenpartner organisation’s capacity to documentand share their work with other.This casestudy and others in the series are a resultof some of this work.
Photos Front cover:A group of volunteers meeting at the offices of GAF.It is in these privategroups that women find it possible to openly communicate both as facilitators and  participants.Matthew Willman/OxfamAUS Left background image:A view of Durbanlooking south towards the ocean from theGAF office.Matthew Willman/OxfamAUS 
AcknowledgementsCase study4
Whats the problem?5
Part1:Yesterday6Part 2:Today11Part 3:Tomorrow12Contacts14
Contents
3
JOHAP OBJECTIVE 3:Create a more enabling environment for HIV/AIDS programming,with a particular focus on the rights ofpeople living with and affected by HIVand AIDS.
http://www.oxfam.org.au/world/africa/south_africa/articles.html
What we do is who we are and we are what we do
gender activistpower withactivistconsciousness raisingfeminist rightsreproductive rightssexual rightspower withinaccess to informationknow your rightscollective actionpersonalempowermentwomen as leaders ofchangeprocesseschanges atthehousehold levelchange in intimate relationsputting the politicalinto practicegender justicetransformationpower tosolidarity thepersonal is politicalpersonal change
 
What’sthe problem?
Key to shaping an agenda and a solution to women’s vulnerability to HIV and AIDS is that weneed an analysis that goes to the root of the problem.It’s a fact.Women and girls are morevulnerable to HIV infection.Theyare alsofeeling and bearing the major part of theimpact of HIV and AIDS on communities.We have known this for decades.So, why is women’s vulnerability to HIV deepening? And whyis this so in the context of greater numbers of individuals - women, men, boysand girls, as well as institutions of all kinds“joining”the “response to”or the “struggleagainst”HIV and AIDS and the “scaling up”of efforts and the “mainstreaming”of HIVand AIDS “into development work”?Whilst the answer is complex and layered,GAF see at the root, men’spower over anddomination of women – or patriarchy.Awoman’s limited lack of autonomy over their own bodies, health, and lives means thathealth is, more often than not, not in their own hands.This translates, amongst other things,to a lack of access to reproductiveand sexual health and rights by women and girls.If this is the problem, then wemust workto transform the way power is distributed in society between women and men, between girls and boys.This means that if wework with men andboys,we must enable them to see, confrontand resist their own power overwomen andgirls.They can then be supported to replacedestructive, hegemonic and dominant power with power within, power with and power to. Anything else may “help”but it is simply not good enough to make the problem goaway! Anything else will entrench men’sdomination and women’s oppression.Theproblem so defined does not call for men to simply communicate with their womenpartners about sex, sexuality and sexualhealth issues.It calls for men to becomewilling partners, activists in relinquishingtheir power over women. Again, if we work with women, we must:Confront women’s oppression or lack of autonomy and inequality;Work with men and women;Target and impact on all spheres andlevels of society:personal, intimaterelationships,household, community,workplace, and political, economic andsocial/cultural institutions.The Gender AIDS Forum works ataddressing the core of the problem andworks together with others who arecommitted to the ideal of “
 Another World isPossible
,where women and men are trulyequal and where women are free and havetheir dignity respected.GAF choose to dothis through demonstrating that work withwomen can be empowering andtransforming and place the bulk of itsresources into this, testing, learning anddemonstrating this process.The Gender AIDS Forum (GAF) is a Durbanbased South African Non-GovernmentalOrganisation (NGO) committed to enablingadeeper consciousness in women and menabout the links between gender and HIVand AIDS.GAF are an activist organisation,which refers to their commitment totransformation from an unequal societytowards one which is equal.GAF believethat another world is possible where all areequal regardless of race,sexual orientation,ethnicity,geographical location, (dis)abilityand gender.Whilst theyfocus on transforminggender relations between women and men,theyalso stand in solidarity with thoseconfronting inequality based on other characteristics and identities.GAF is a learning organisation and aknowledge creating organisation.In GAF’swords, “We think critically about ourselves;wequestion ourselves,then weagree to andactually act… We plan for and enable growthand development – genuine empowermentof the people in the organisation – board,staff, volunteers and strive to contribute asbest we can to this kind of growth in thework we do with others”.GAF are committed to applying their belief in equality to the organisation as afunctioning institution and as such theywork to create a flat structured organisationwhere they constantly confront power andtry to ensure that they do not use ‘power over’others.GAF try to create a workenvironment where workers are eager tocome to work – an atmosphere which theylove to be in.They try to base relations onwarmth, love, empathy and genuineness sothat they have a safe and nurturing spacefor personal change and transformation.GAF are mainly women – and a few men – who are committed to the freedom, dignityand equality between women and men.They are diverse in terms of race, sexualorientation, geography;they are HIV positiveand HIV negative.GAF are learning how to live and work with diversity.GAF’s values are based on respect for all.Theykeep in mind people,process,participation and power as four fundamentalP’s and work to ensure that the three actionP’s - philosophy, policy and practice - reflectthese values and principles.
 
Case study
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Photo left:Trish Naidoo:Administrative Assistant.Matthew Willman/OxfamAUS 
5
Photo above:Dawn Cavanagh (Advocacy Project Coordinator) taking a break fromher workschedule.MatthewWillman/OxfamAUS 

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