Reducing HIV vulnerability through education for girls

Contributor: Constance Shumba

After signing the Nairobi 2007 Call to Action, I started a Girls’ Educational project in Koboko, Uganda. The project assists talented but disadvantaged young girls to go to secondary school by providing them with school fees and pocket money. As a young woman I believe strongly that one of the ways to reduce girls vulnerability to HIV is to provide them with opportunities for education.
Feminisation of HIV has created a need to challenge harmful cultural beliefs such as the idea that girls should not be educated. One of the girls in the project came from a home where the father did not believe in education. She now displays so much potential and has a bright future ahead of her. With access to education her life has changed but there are many girls in Africa living her past life.
In my professional life as a public health specialist I want to seek knowledge and ways of improving the health system, including improved financing, so that young women can have access to a wide range of sexual and reproductive health services. Change begins with every one of us and we need to address the socio-economic issues that enable disease and find ways to promote health holistically. We must be resilient in taking action until we get the social change we want.

Any response to HIV that recognises, respects and nurtures the potential of women and girls must be encouraged as part of protecting and promoting the human rights of women and girls. Since signing the Nairobi 2007 Call to Action, ensuring women and girls worldwide have access to education and economic security has become an important part of my life.

Source: Common Concern July 2008