Isitsha Sothando embarks on Aids awareness campaign, The Daily Mirror

Date: January 1, 1970
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The article is about an HIV/AIDS awareness campaign, which focuses on women and girls, to be launched by a gospel singing group in Matebeleland North Province in Zimbabwe.

Trainer’s notes: This article is a good example of how HIV/AIDS reporting can appear in various sections of the media, including arts and entertainment. A gospel group’s launch of an HIV/AIDS awareness campaign in one of the country’s provinces is the news angle of the story. The awareness campaign focuses on the gender dimension of the pandemic in order to inform and educate communities in the province on why women and girls are more vulnerable to HIV infection. Discrimination against women and girls is one of the issues the campaign will address. The article is potentially a good story, but has several weaknesses. It is told through the voice of the director and executive producer of the gospel group who is a man. It is therefore a one-source story. Women have not been accessed as sources to get their views and perspectives on a campaign that focuses on making them less vulnerable to HIV infection. Gender-insensitive language also slips into the story, e.g. the reference to women as the ‘fairer sex’, and ‘victims’. HIV/AIDS is described as ‘the deadly disease’, and ‘deadly scourge’, which occurs frequently in stories on the pandemic in Zimbabwe. This suggests that newsrooms do not have both gender and HIV/AIDS language guidelines, style guides or policies to ensure that language that promotes stereotypes and stigma is not used in editorial content. The story is a missed opportunity to report contextually and in-depth on the gender dimensions of HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe. The angle of the story and quotes from the male source indicate that women and girls are the most vulnerable, but the story does not go further to explain ‘why’. This important question could have been answered through interviews with a diversity of women and men sources, both affected and infected, and through background information and data which illustrates the gender dimension of the pandemic in Zimbabwe and in the Matebeleland Province. It also would be of interest to know the gender composition of the gospel group, and interviews with the various members of the group on the gender focus of the HIV/AIDS awareness campaign should be included in the story.
Training exercises: Ask the students/participants to read the article and to make a list of sources who should be interviewed. Ensure that there is a gender balance in the sources suggested. Assign a story to students/participants on the role of musicians and artists in promoting awareness of the gender dimension of HIV/AIDS.
Links to other training resources: Gender and HIV/AIDS A Training Manual for Southern African Media and Communicators, published by Gender Links and AIDS Law Project 2004, chapter 4

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