GEMSA 16 Days of Activism Newsletter Issue 5

GEMSA 16 Days of Activism Newsletter Issue 5

Date: December 1, 2004
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As World AIDS Day is commemorated around the world the vulnerability of women and young women and girls in particular, is thrown into sharp focus. The UNAIDS 2004 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic states that in sub-Saharan Africa 57 percent of adults infected are women and 75 percent of young people infected are women and girls.

E-Newsletter of  the Gender and Media Southern Africa Network

Produced daily during the Sixteen Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, 2004

Issue 5, 1st December 2004


·    Overview

·    Today’s I story

·    Country activities

Contact your Sixteen Day Campaign country representatives:

Botswana: Keaybone Ntsabanye:

Kenya: Rosemary Okello:

Lesotho: Fanyane Mathabang :

Mauritius: Loga Virahsawmy:

Seychelles: Sharon Thelemaque:

South Africa: Mothibi Mohomane:

Swaziland: Ncane Maziya:

Zambia: Chileshe Kalasa:  

Zimbabwe: Loveness Jambaya:

Contact your GEMSA country representatives:

Angola: Anacleta Pereira

Botswana: Pamela Dube

Lesotho: Mathabang Fanyane

Malawi: Stella Mhura

Mauritius: Loga Virahsawmy

Mozambique: Jose Marciano Mubai

Namibia: Sarry Xoagus- Eises

Seychelles: Jean Claude Mantombe

South Africa: Kubi Rama

Swaziland: Phumelele Dlamini

Tanzania: Rose Haji

Zambia: Emmanuel Kasongo

Zimbabwe: Loveness Jambaya

Contact the GEMSA Executive Committee:

Chair: Colleen Lowe Morna (South Africa)

Deputy Chair: Emmanuel Kasongo (Zambia)

Secretary: Tom Mapasela (Lesotho)


As World AIDS Day is commemorated around the world the vulnerability of women and young women and girls in particular, is thrown into sharp focus.  The UNAIDS 2004 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic states that in sub-Saharan Africa 57 percent of adults infected are women and 75 percent of young people infected are women and girls.

Given that this same group is also most vulnerable to violence – in intimate relationships, as casualties of wars and the myriad other forms violence against women takes – it is a matter of urgency that interventions aimed at reducing the spread of HIV also address gender violence. 

It is now widely accepted that many women and girls are unable to negotiate safe sexual encounters. The ABC approach is failing to prevent the transmission of the virus amongst large groups of women who are unable to abstain under threat of violence; whose fidelity cannot guarantee that of their partners’ and whose insistence on using a condom may lead to violence.

We cannot escape the fact that gender inequality fuels the spread of HIV and is at the root cause of gender violence.  Unless the inequality that marks the existence of men and women across the world is addressed head on, when we commemorate World AIDS Day next year, the picture will not look much different.


Today’s I story

The peace that comes with forgiveness

By Riana Jacobs

It has taken four years but I have found inner peace. Peace from a demon called HIV. Knowing my blood is contaminated with the HI virus was one thing. But being HIV positive and Muslim was another. Islam forbids premarital sex, an act of which I was guilty. I went against the very teaching of my faith, for a man I thought cared for me. For a man I thought would convert for me.

Read the full story at:


His Excellency the President of the Republic of Botswana, Mr. Festus Gontebanye Mogae was the guest of honour at a ceremony in Gantsi to mark World AIDS Day. He was accompanied by the Honorable Minister of Health, Professor Sheila Dinotshe Tlou, members of the Diplomatic Corps, development partners, MP for Gantsi North Mr JK Swartz and the MP for Gantsi South Mr C De Graaf.

The HIV prevalence rate in Botswana is 37.4 percent – highest amongst the 25-29 year olds – according to the National AIDS Coordinating Agency (NACA). NACA has identified the need to address the gender dimension of all policy and programme interventions as a critical step in meeting the needs of men and women living with HIV. 

 (By Kaebonye Ntsabane)



History was made in Mauritius today when an HIV positive woman publicly spoke about her status.  This happened at the National Conference Centre in Grand-Baie where a national march was concluded.

Two women from the Network of HIV Positive Women in India also talked about their status in a hall full of people. Several ministers including the Minister of Women’s Affairs talked about the vulnerability of women in relation to HIV. MWO President, Loga Virahsawmy talked about gender violence and HIV on national radio and in another radio programme, was a guest with, Malini the woman who had earlier revealed her status in Grand-Baie.

The national Mauritius Broadcast Corporation televised a one hour programme on gender and HIV/AIDS. The panelists included representatives from Media Watch/Centre de Solidarite, the AIDS Secretariat, UNDP- UNAIDS and PILS. 

The public awareness campaign in Rodrigues is now in its third day.

(By Loga Virahsawmy)



Namibians countrywide are observing World AIDS Day and the government is taking the lead in the fight to curb the pandemic. Local NGOs, including GEMSA are also taking part in activities.

The Namibia Red Cross Society (NRCS) has called for collective efforts in fighting stigma and discrimination to ensure human dignity. The NRCS joins the government and people living with HIV/AIDS, NGOs and other stake holders in commemorating World Aids Day.

Read the full story at:

(By Sarry Xoagus-Eises)



The 16 Days of Activism began in Seychelles last week with a peace march. GEM Plus used the opportunity to distribute the red and white ribbons, as people walked around singing songs of peace.  Minister of Health, Patrick Pillay who is also the Gem Plus patron sent a message of support for the campaign which was read on the radio and TV and also published in the daily newspaper.

On Saturday 27th November, The Seychelles Nation newspaper carried a centre-spread on the 16 Days Campaign. Since Monday this week the National Radio has been airing the song “Faux pas taper ta femme” a french song by a Seychellois artist, who is telling his fellow countrymen not to beat their partners. This is the song of the week and it will be played during this week. Daily spots on focusing on gender issues are also being aired on the radio. World AIDS Day today is being marked by an event organised by the Ministry of Health.


South Africa

World AIDS Day was marked in South Africa by a number of activities taking place throughout the country, many of which were attended by high level government ministers, including the Deputy Minister.  At the cyber dialogues in Johannesburg, the theme under discussion was HIV/AIDS and gender violence.

Participants emphasised that many women are not able to negotiate safe sexual encounters as they lack power. The inability to insist that a partner use a condom, then places women at risk of both HIV infection and violence from their partners when they insist on condom use. A suggestion made during the live chat was that countries within the SADC region pool their resources and expertise to address the epidemic. Participants also called for the training of health care workers so that they would be able to deal with cases of gender violence more sensitively. Panelists for today’s discussion included Advocate Thoko Majokweni, Special Director of Public Prosecutions; Thabisile Tshabalala from the Treatment Action Campaign; Ngangie Diale from the Community AIDS Project who is also a nurse; Amelia Chaponda from CEDPA-SA, Esther Malueke and Fezeka Khuzwayo.

Go to: to find out more about the discussion.


In Zambia today

Scores of inter-faith denomination members, politicians, gender activists, government officials and ordinary Zambians gathered at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Lusaka to participate in the Candle Light ceremony to commemorate those who have died from AIDS related illnesses. President Mwanawasa attended the event that was characterised by hymns, solemn music and grief.

In his address, President Mwanawasa said HIV was capable of reversing the gains of 40 years of Zambia‘s independence if left uncontrolled and allowed to decimate the very core group of Zambia’s reproduction – women and girls.

Read the full story at:

(By Brighton Phiri)



Zimbabweans continue to mark the 16 Days of Activism through a number of activities including:

* The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) held a conference on HIV and AIDS, Land and Property Rights and Livelihoods for
Women and Children in
* The e-dialogue on gender violence continues at: Send a message to the list to:

* MWENGO hosted an awareness raising tent in Harare‘s CBD.
* NASCO held a live radio broadcast.
* The National Aids Council hosted a World AIDS Day event. President Mugabe also gave a State Address on HIV/AIDS yesterday on
Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC).
* UNICEF hosted a conference on sexual abuse in schools.
* The Women’s Coalition Gweru Chapter held a gender awareness raising workshop.
* The Women’s Coalition held workshops on domestic violence in Chiredzi and Beitbridge. The workshop included information about the petition to get the Zimbabwean government to pass legislation on domestic violence.
* The Daily Mirror is giving coverage to the 16 Days of Activism and has published articles provided through the GEM Opinion and Commentary Service.

(By Loveness Jambaya)


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Send us information on what activities are taking place in your country.

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