HIV and AIDS: Gender and Human Rights

 

HIV and AIDS continue to have an overwhelming impact on people in the communities, organizations and countries where Canadian Churches in Action (CCA) and its partners operate. Organizations consistently deal with human rights and gender issues as they relate to HIV and AIDS. However, many organizations and communities do not have the training and knowledge needed to effectively bring change to their communities.

In response, CCA’s human rights and gender project has produced a curriculum for training in gender and human rights for HIV and AIDS education activities (available in English, French and Portuguese). By promoting attitude and behaviour change among men and women, the project aims to help community leaders, churches, pastors, nurses, counsellors and others as they work to reduce the negative impacts of HIV and AIDS in their societies and communities.

 

Participants at the gender and human rights workshop in Tanzania 
The objectives of the curriculum are to:
  • Create an understanding of gender, human rights and male involvement in the area of HIV and AIDS education
  • Provide tools to promote human rights in organizations and communities
  • Increase participants’ skills to communicate issues of human rights, gender and HIV and AIDS
  • Increase understanding of gender mainstreaming in the fight against HIV and AIDS

 

Since 2010, over 120 participants—representing 50 organizations—from 12 African countries have been trained, providing the foundation for leading their organizations in gender policies, as well as leading communities in reducing stigma and discrimination and for preventing HIV infection. Participants in turn carry out the training in their own communities—exponentially spreading the message throughout southern and eastern Africa.

From one participant, “I am already using the [learning] model and currently in the process of scaling up gender programming in our region. If all goes well, we should modify the CCA curriculum for community facilitators in the coming year. Do pray with me as we look into funding opportunities.”

Participants at the gender and human rights workshop in Tanzania

Participants at the gender and human rights workshop in Tanzania

An independent evaluation of the training has concluded that “the training was unique in addressing these issues in the niche of Faith Based Organizations (FBOs), which have extensive reach into all levels of African society… Through a participatory and holistic approach, it addressed underlying causes of the pandemic and its feminization through increasing gender awareness and the involvement of men, as well as empowering women (through assertiveness and awareness of their rights). In HIV/AIDS, partners report improved health, accessing of services, and reduced stigma in PLWHA. The promotion of change in gender relations and respect for human rights has additional far reaching changes in the organizations and individuals who have embraced them.”

Another participant stated, “This will be a very important starting point for me to start addressing gender issues in my organi­sation, as it has never been taken into account at all.”

Based on the positive results of the evaluation, CCA continues to move forward with its HIV and AIDS education initiative. By working with partners to strengthen the African networks of trainers, CCA is fostering an environment where partners are leading in building on and scaling up the initiative. Participants are working together to ensure their communities—both men and women—are taking HIV prevention seriously and are actively working to stop stigma and gender discrimination.

 

Additional Resources for Further Reading: