|Feminists Have Fought in AIDS Battle|
Feminists Have Fought in AIDS Battle
The Denver Post, July 26, 2004
Letter to the Editor
Re: "Feminists asleep in AIDS fight," July 21 Pius Kamau column
To the Editor:
While Pius Kamau's column touches on the key underlying issues of basic gender inequities driving the AIDS pandemic, he misses the larger point. Feminists, together with doctors, scientists, teachers, social workers and many others, have been hard at work globally for decades to empower girls and women and provide them with comprehensive health care and education services.
To effectively slow the pandemic, pervasive gender inequalities need to be confronted by the entire society, with the commitment of governments, so that women can make their own decisions about their sexual health.
In Nigeria, the International Women's Health Coalition supports several local organizations that offer innovative programs to educate girls about their health and rights. In part because of the success of these programs, Nigeria has adopted a national curriculum to teach all adolescents about their health, relationships, and HIV transmission.
But too often politicians look for a magic bullet to prevent HIV. They ignore the evidence of the basic inequalities fueling the epidemic: girls married off at 13, bride inheritance, girls' lack of education.
Women's groups and their allies, working in every country, know the solution to these problems—but they cannot engender widespread behavior change unless political leaders and international donors join the effort.
Those in charge of major AIDS programming need to open their eyes, take in the evidence, and get to the root issues that drive HIV infection.
Ellen Marshall, Boulder
Ellen Marshall is a consultant for the International Women's Health Coalition.
Originally published in the Denver Post, July 26, 2004. Reprinted with permission.