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Women and the Fight Against HIV/AIDS Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by olawale shogunle, Nigeria Dec 25, 2005
Health , Citizen Journalism   Opinions
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The woman holds a position in the social and domestic spheres of society that makes her a major determinant in the prevention and/or fight against the HIV/AIDS scourge. The percentage of women who contact HIV/AIDS through the act of an unfaithful partner is more than it is vice versa, and alarming. This gives room for the reconsideration of the position of women in society and in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

The woman has as much right and will to determine what pattern of sexual life she wishes to engage in as a man. She has a right therefore, to determine what affects her own health and how it should be attended to. The woman, by reason of her sexual and reproductive features, is responsible for transmitting HIV/AIDS to the unborn child. This dilemma is borne socially, psychologically and economically more by the woman than the man. The dilemma is one in which when another innocent child is born to live with HIV, the trauma of stigmatization is more pronounced in regards to the woman. This therefore indicates that besides being a major stakeholder in the transmission of HIV/AIDS, women should also be equipped with what they require to prevent themselves and their children against the epidemic invading from the outside.

Women are therefore indispensable in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The most effective and efficient protection from this scourge is the increasing empowerment of the Nigerian woman. Now women are becoming increasingly aware that they have as much right to freedom (of expression), right to dream, aspire and achieve, right to duty, security and health as their male partners. Women can now, on behalf of themselves, fight for what should accrue to them. They now hold in their hand the ability to obtain what is most dear to them.

This growth in self-worth has instilled in womenfolk the strength to come out with more confidence and a united front, focusing on expressing their plight and the unfair, subordinate position they hold within the health system of society, as it ignores what happens to them in the calamitous chain of HIV/AIDS transmission. This phenomenal state of women’s emancipation has meant more attention for women’s health issues; and in the same vein, more women, knowledgeable in this field, are further informing other women by intensive spatial dissemination.

The offshoot of this are the numerous women and child-oriented non-governmental organizations in the nation to which much credit can be given, objectively considering their effectiveness within the society in which they are situated. These organizations have, by civil means such as dialogue, compelled the government to be more gender-liberal and sensitive to the disadvantaged position of first the mother, and then the child, whose exposure to the virus is from the mother. This has been of immense benefit to the men, women and children, who are conscious and unconscious of their stakeholder status within society.

In addition, within the family unit, it has been proven and sealed that the mother generally spends more time with the children than the father. The responsibility has been primarily taken over by our mothers to inform children on issues concerning sexual health. Agreeably, this is not a preserve of women; yet, it can be categorically stated that mothers have done a better job on the home front.

Rural areas and grassroots organizations are already being sensitized; and though it has not been an easy task, the effort is gradually beginning to yield positive results. Wives of government officials who are well positioned are spearheading women and child-oriented programs that are combating, both directly and indirectly, the HIV/AIDS spread. Such programs include clamping down on child labor, particularly prostitution in and outside the country; providing opportunities of learning, such as for blue-collar skills and offering employment.

Women are going all out to raise funds from international donors and governments in furtherance of their candid pursuits. Investment in its strictest and most flexible sense implies the putting of time, money, material, talents/abilities etc. into something with the expectation that the said thing increases in value, or in production.

On the premise of this definition, it is safe to conclude that something one invests in is valued and cherished by the investor and would be guarded by all possible means against both external and internal destructive forces. The more grounded and accepted women's empowerment awareness has become with the greater amount of women that have become huge assets to society. Women are filling positions of authority in decision-making bodies and religious institutions. More female children and young adults are engaging in academic pursuits and have a greater number of successful women achievers to emulate; and thus, are going to achieve too. This enables them to rank in skill and progressive power with their partners.

Such a positive situation is bringing more and more women from a position of disregard and neglect – where they are imagined to mean nothing more than a prized possession, worthy only of staying in the background – to a position of appreciation and respect, one which society would do anything to protect, by reason of the knowledge, ability, creativity and dynamism they possess. I particularly think, over time this factor above all would most explain the advancement women in Nigeria are making against HIV/AIDS.

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