|Overview and History of IWHC's Work in Southern Africa|
Since 1988 the International Women's Health Coalition (IWHC) has worked intensively in Cameroun and Nigeria with visionary and brave individuals who have now established their organizations and presence as women's rights activists for sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRRH) in their countries and internationally. In FY2006, IWHC began a concerted effort to build on our work and experience in these two countries to expand our efforts in sub-Saharan Africa. As part of our three-year strategy (2008-2010) we are engaging in southern Africa to provide support to organizations to influence sexual reproductive rights and health (SRRH) policy, especially with regard to HIV/AIDS.
One of the key challenges facing women's rights organizations in southern Africa is a shortage of support for and coordination among them. This has resulted in a lack of strong women's voices around SRRH and HIV/AIDS programming and decision-making. Local advocates believe that the immediate priorities in southern Africa are HIV/AIDS, human rights and violence against women.
In FY2008 - FY2010 IWHC will support women's rights activists and advocates in selected countries of southern Africa to advocate around areas of common concern in women's rights and HIV prevention, care and treatment. This initiative is an aspect of the larger strategy that links the Africa, International Policy and Communications Programs.
IWHC has built relationships with numerous individuals and organizations in southern Africa (Botswana, South Africa, Swaziland, and Zambia) and in FY2008 awarded several travel grants to individuals and organizations in southern Africa to increase their capacity in policy advocacy at international and regional levels. We also awarded institutional grants to two organizations in South Africa: People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA) and Sonke Gender Justice Network.
In FY2009 IWHC supported a meeting of key southern African advocates prior to the Association for Women's Rights and Development (AWID) Forum in South Africa. This led to a set of country-level strategies and a joint southern African strategy to address HIV transmission by advocating for policies and programs that reduce violence against women, hate-based violence, and other forms of discrimination against women, which fuel the AIDS epidemic in southern Africa.