FemLINKPACIFIC (Media Initiatives for Women - www.femlinkpacific) is offering the following for your information as well ad for republishing and further distribution. Please use the credit provided in the event of publication. If you would like to republish the article please let us know how it will be used: 01 December 2011 Participation and Podcasts! It’s World AIDS Day and as a preview for today, day five of our community radio campaign and HIV-AIDS and young male advocates for gender equality and peace were featured in programmes which aired in Suva, Labasa and Nausori. These and other programmes can also be heard via podcasts featured on FemLINKPACIFIC website: http://www.femlinkpacific.org.fj/index.cfm?si=main.gen&cmd=communityradioactivism In a programme focusing on equality in access to HIV/AIDS information and services, Sesenieli Naitala an LGBT advocate and campaigner was featured in a programme which provides insights into the HIV/Aids Asia Pacific Conference in Busan, South Korea in August 2011 where she presented information from the publication ‘Risky Business, Sex work & HIV Prevention’ in Fiji. Young male advocates Peter Waqavonovono, the 2011 Hibiscus King, along with Jeremy Fong and George Nacewa (the Coordinator of Interfaith Sarch Fiji) recently talked to Generation Next sharing insights from their experience in bringing their issues to the public platform through the Hibiscus King Pageant in August this year. The young men are leading role models for youth activism and during the Hibiscus Kings pageant spoke out against bullying as well as raising awareness on environment security. In Labasa, it was an important broadcast for the Mataniwai Youth Group who travelled 24 kilometres to join the Generation Next broadcast team at the St Thomas Anglican Church. For Lucille, as she produced a programme with a male advocate, she was pleasantly surprised to meet a man who not only respected the women’s media space, but also wanted to see more media coverage from rural communities: “He mentioned that the media should go out to the rural areas and gather stories from there. As I was listening to him share his views I felt very happy because it really showed that there are some men out there that’s supporting us,” she reports. Litiana Jautu of the Naleba Multiracial Women’s Forum is looking forward to the Labasa suitcase radio station making its way out to her community which is more than 10 kilometres away from town: “I would like more broadcasting in rural areas especially teaching women on their rights, as a woman in the village and as a mother in the family.” She also said that the community radio station provides a platform for women to participate in decision making especially when they are not participating in village meetings because talking on the radio enables them to share their views, ideas, issues and peace to be heard by many others. Rural women, she added, are an important source of information for all media practitioners. Meanwhile if you often wonder what is the connection between infrastructure and environment security, think about what Roshni Lata had to say: “If you are not careful, you can fall into the drain.” Roshni had travelled in from Vuci, Nausori, and was speaking during the interactive dialogue sessions produced at the broadcast sites focusing on Women, Peace and Human Security, women of the Nausori 1325 Network Parmila Prasad added that child protection issues need to be prioritized: “Programmes needed on how to look after your children well and talk to your children in regards to the increase in crimes and murders happening around.” The women reaffirmed a commitment to working together and through the Nausori “1325” network to communicate with rural development agencies and authorities as they also added that they hoped the media would support rural women’s advocacy: “Every media should speak about women, their issues and their work,” said Rajni Lata while Manju Lata highlighted the type of media content she would like: “Women can learn from the media on teenage pregnancies, violence, how to stay safe and who to talk to and when.” And on World AIDS Day the World YWCA joins the global community in the call to "Get to Zero" - zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS related deaths: Although there are encouraging signs regarding progress in the response to HIV with the rate of new HIV infections declining globally [UNAIDS World AIDS Day Report, 2011], the total number of HIV infections remains high at about 7,000 per day. The proportion of women living with HIV remains at 50% globally, with higher rates in sub-Saharan Africa (59%) and the Caribbean (53%). Recent evidence also suggests that young women make up 61% of all new infections among young people aged 15-24 years. AIDS continues to be the leading cause of death and disease for women of reproductive age in low and middle income countries. Gender-based violence has been identified as a significant driver of HIV infection among women in some regions of the world. According to UNAIDS, women who have experienced violence are up to three times more likely to be infected with HIV than those who have not. HIV is a global priority for the World YWCA movement, which reaches more than 25 million women and girls in 125 countries. In over 70 countries worldwide, YWCAs are engaged in advocacy, programmes and services to secure women's sexual and reproductive health and rights and respond to HIV and AIDS. This first-hand experience in the realities facing women and girls in communities worldwide makes the World YWCA a vital partner in the global response to HIV and AIDS and informs the World YWCA's global advocacy engagement. At the recent World YWCA International Women's Summit held in July 2011 in Zurich, Switzerland, the importance of women's leadership in the response to HIV and AIDS was reaffirmed, and YWCAs committed to provide comprehensive SRHR and HIV programmes and services to women and girls; to ensure YWCAs are safe, inclusive and empowering spaces for women and girls living with HIV; and to challenge harmful cultural norms and practices that continue to put women at risk of HIV infection. For the World YWCA, Getting to Zero requires mobilising the effective leadership of women and especially young women. Such transformative leadership will contribute towards informed decision making by women and to changing harmful behaviours and practices that violate women's human rights, as well as enable effective policies and laws on SRHR and HIV that are responsive to the realities of women's lives. Investment in young women also offers a unique opportunity to change the course of the HIV epidemic and stop new infections. Getting to Zero also requires investing in SRHR and HIV programmes that address the specific needs of women and girls in all their diversity and recognising stigma and discrimination, human rights violations and gender-based violence as barriers to successful programmes outcomes. As we commit to Getting to Zero, the World YWCA draws specific attention to the following priorities for women and girls around the world: 1. Expand access to safe reproductive health services and family planning for women to make informed decisions about their bodies Recent global efforts to achieve Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 and to scale-up access to treatment attest to the critical importance of investing in SRHR, especially for young women. All women must enjoy their sexual rights to decide when, where, how and with whom they choose to have sexual experiences, and have information about how to protect themselves from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Women's reproductive rights must also be respected, including the right to make informed decisions about starting a family. It is a woman's right to choose if and when she has children, including the number and spacing. It is unacceptable that women continue to die as a result of unsafe pregnancy. The full enjoyment of reproductive rights also means women having the freedom to make informed decisions about contraception and birthing methods, including women living with HIV. 2. Support programmes that empower young women with access to comprehensive and age-appropriate sexuality education and services Knowledge about HIV is the first step to avoiding its transmission. Yet, many young women remain unprotected, vulnerable, unduly affected and at risk of STIs and HIV. Young women participating in some YWCA's safe space forums have raised concern that HIV remains a social problem. Despite great medical achievements, factors such as their inability to claim sexual and reproductive health rights or access services, pervasive violence against women, harmful traditional practices, and limited access to education, economic rights, legal rights and decision making, leave the majority of young women vulnerable to infection through unsafe sex, rape and sexual violence, which results in unintended pregnancy, unsafe abortion, reproductive health complications and exposure to STIs and HIV. 3. Provide safe, inclusive and empowering spaces for people living with HIV and affirm the equal dignity of all human beings Women and young women around the world demand dignity. As stigma continues to drive the epidemic and prevents people from accessing treatment and support, successful interventions must support people to get tested for HIV, know their status, access support structures and enjoy their sexual and reproductive rights without fear of prejudice or discrimination. YWCA programming in Tanzania reveals that stigma continues to exist even among communities who are aware of their rights and already accessing treatment. They have reported cases of mothers who have told their children not to disclose their HIV status to peers and relatives. HIV programmes and policies need to better address the specific realities and needs of women and girls, and respect and protect their human rights. HIV services providing essential sexual and reproductive health care remain insufficient with continued reports of women living with HIV being pressured, and sometimes forced, not to have children as a requirement for AIDS treatment. During a workshop at the International Women's Summit, a young woman living with HIV shared her distress when she lost her son and was advised not to have any more children. She spoke globally for other young women and called upon service providers to respect and protect the rights of women living with HIV to live a normal life and have the choice and support to have children without HIV. 4. Ensure adequate resources to deliver on commitments to gender equality, human rights and HIV and AIDS, including expanded access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services for women, including women living with HIV. As part of Getting to Zero, the World YWCA calls upon the world's governments to increase investment in SRHR and HIV programmes that work for women and young women. Governments must be accountable for developing appropriate policies and allocating sufficient resources to advance women's leadership, empowerment and rights, in line with global commitments. Governments around the world must address gender inequality and the status of women in society, which are two important drivers of HIV infection rates. This must go beyond rhetoric and include adequate resourcing for interventions targeting women and girls. ... Sharon Bhagwan Rolls Executive Director femLINKPACIFIC +6799244871 (Mobile) +6793310303 (Office DL) www.femlinkpacific.org.fj Sent via BlackBerry® from Vodafone.