ICW East Africa

REGIONAL PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT
Lillian Mworeko took up the post of East Africa Regional Coordinator in February 2005, based in Uganda.  An East Africa regional strategic planning meeting was held in Kampala in February 2008 which brought together staff and members from Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. The meeting was an opportunity to explore regional development in East Africa and establish a Regional Advisory Committee. Terms of reference were drawn up and the Committee is currently comprised of the chairs of the three currently existing country level Member Committees, in anticipation of the participation of representatives from other countries in the region in due course. Members at the planning meeting began to draft strategic goals to address these issues, focusing on capacity building, advocacy, meaningful involvement of women living with HIV and AIDS, creating partnerships and linkages, and regional development of the network, to be able to address identified regional priority issues of ACTS, SRHR, GIPA, economic empowerment, and stigma and discrimination, and the two cross-cutting themes of young women and violence against women.

TACKLING HIV AND TB

ICW entered into a partnership with Treatment Action Group (TAG) to implement African activities of TAG’s TB/HIV project from May 2007 – 31 December 2008. The main objective of the project is to empower, train, and support African TB/HIV community advocates, community-based HIV activist organizations, and people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) networks to incorporate TB/HIV priorities into their advocacy work and to accomplish the goals related to scale-up of HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment towards universal access by 2010. Achievements include:

  • Participation in the writing and review of a TB/HIV Advocacy Tool kit.
  • TB/HIV Africa advocacy workshop in Uganda from the 25th – 28th Sept.2007.
  • Francophone Advocacy Meeting, Ivory Coast from Jan 5th – 9th 2008.
  • Participation in regional and international meetings to advocate for project aims.

SMALL GRANTS FOR POSITIVE WOMEN IN AFRICA
Women and Children’s Collaborative Fund for Treatment Literacy in Africa and ICW East Africa are coordinating the women and families project to review proposal to fund small grassroots organisations.

In 2005 our regional coordinators, Lillian and Gcebile, organised a treatment preparedness skills building workshop focusing on Women, Families and Children 28th – 30th November 2005 – Kampala – Uganda. Groups were invited to submit grants and twenty-two grassroots organizations received funding in this first round. Total amount distributed $225,000.

In 2008 ICW organized a Treatment Literacy workshop for 2007/8 grantees of the Collaborative Fund for Women and Families in Africa. The workshop was held in Johannesburg South Africa at Birchwood hotel from 21st - 24th May 2008 and was attended by seventeen grantees all women representing Community Based Organizations (CBOs) from African Francophone and Anglophone countries. The training was facilitated by a team from the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA), and Community Health Media Trust (CHMT). The objective of the workshop was to enhance grantees’ knowledge in HIV treatment literacy and preparedness to enable them to implement their projects effectively. Participants were able to make some tentative plans of actions through which they would share with their members the knowledge and skills that they acquired from the trainings.

For more information on this project.

HIV POSITIVE WOMEN MONITORING COMMITMENT TO THEIR RIGHTS
ICW is  training HIV positive women to use our monitoring tool in Uganda, Lesotho and South Africa. The project, funded by Comic Relief and the Bethany Trust in Uganda and South Africa, offers a further opportunity to bring diverse groups together - HIV positive women, health providers and government officials - and to aid the latter two groups to think critically about the impact of their actions on HIV positive women. It also provides a valuable opportunity to reduce the isolation faced by the women living with HIV and AIDS, as well as being a chance to highlight issues that often get sidelined in work on HIV. Already the tool has been adapted for a number of research and monitoring programmes, for example:

  • Sexual and reproductive rights in South Africa, Namibia and Botswana;
  • Access to care, treatment and support in Namibia, Tanzania and Kenya;
  • Training on monitoring and advocacy with HIV positive Swazi women.

Please get in touch with ICW if you would like copies of reports from these programmes.

The monitoring tool was first developed in 2005 when Action Aid and ICW worked together on a project that aimed to contribute to strengthening the national response to HIV/AIDS in Swaziland and Lesotho. This was achieved through expanding the involvement of women living with HIV/AIDS, including monitoring political commitment and promotion of gender mainstreaming. Workshops to prepare the monitoring tool were held in the two counties in February 2005.

LINKING HIV POSITIVE WOMEN AND PARLIAMENTARIANS
The Parliamentarians for Women's Health (PWH) project activities ended in December 2007. A final workshop bringing together project participants from all four countries was held in Nairobi in September 2007. Parliamentarians, CSO representatives and women living with HIV from Namibia, Botswana, Tanzania and Kenya as well as project staff and management from ICRW, ICW, CSA and RR:EGI attended the workshop. Workshop participants all took part in presentations or interactive sessions to examine, reflect on and take forward the experiences of this ground breaking project. The project brought MPs closer to the reality of women’s health issues on the ground and connected them with positive women’s networks and other civil society actors in the arena of HIV and AIDS, as well as their grassroots constituents through a series of workshops, networking efforts and community assessments, among other activities. These interactions have brought about greater understanding about the barriers, stigma, and violence affecting women’s ability to access health, and heightened the MPs ability to represent women’s health issues in policy- and programme-making environments. One MP from Botswana said “it’s that kind of direct exposure to reality that I will never forget”.

PARTICPATORY RESEARCH ON VAW, SRHR AND ACTS IN UGANDA
Supported by interact worldwide, ICW used our monitoring tool - Positive Women Monitoring Change, a tool developed by positive women in Lesotho and Swaziland - to interview HIV positive women about their experiences including access to services. Service provides were also interviewed to determine the appropriateness of services offered and policy makers were asked about their commitment to positive women’s rights. Among other issues the report highlighted the connection between rights violations and access to appropriate treatment and care and also the impact of negative attitudes of service providers on the health-seeking behaviour of HIV positive pregnant women. ‘When he learns that I went to the health centre for medication, he beats me saying that I am embarrassing him…..that I am showing everybody that we are sick. Now I fear going for services. I cannot take with me things given in the basic care package because he will ask me where I got them from.’ (HIV positive woman, Masindi) ‘We encourage HIV positive women not to get pregnant again. Actually we do not chase them when they become pregnant again……usually when they come back, they feel embarrassed so when I see such clients, I ask my colleague to attend to her…….others simply do not come back.’ (Service Provider, Busia) Report due soon.

MAPPING OF WOMEN’S EXPERIENCES OF ACCESS TO CARE, TREATMENT AND SUPPORT THROUGH CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS

WHO supported ICW to map positive women's experiences of access to care and treatment in three countries (Namibia, Kenya, Tanzania). We hope that the findings will contribute to advocacy for increased political support and resources for CSOs providing access to care, treatment and support. The project complements a mapping and database of CSOs providing treatment being produced by SIDACTION. Reports available.