América Latina, comencemos a caminar – Latin America, start walking

Vicky Rojas Araya

By: Vicky Rojas Araya

This is a reflection piece from a young member of the YWCA of Valparaíso, Chile and is part of the World YWCA delegation at the Conference in Vienna.

Esta es una reflexión proveniente de una joven miembro de la YWCA de Valparaíso, Chile, que participe en la Conferencia Internacional de SIDA 2010.

La Conferencia Internacional de SIDA del 2010 sin duda dejará una indeleble marca en mi, no sólo por todo lo que he aprendido sobre diferentes aspectos involucrados en la prevención, tratamiento, cuidado y apoyo relacionado al tema del VIH/SIDA, sino también por encontrarme con “el mundo”, con la diversidad, con las culturas, con los lenguajes. Pareciera que una muestra aleatoria del planeta se encontrara todos los días entre  esas paredes, y sobre todo en la colorida Aldea Global (diversa y respetuosa de esa cualidad).

Sin embargo, entre tantas luces y colores, me preguntaba que pasaba con mi región, con Latinoamérica, y es que cuando te encuentras con el mundo, los procesos identitarios no sólo se encuentran con tu país, sino con aquellos que representan una cultura similar, con quienes compartimos una historia y hablamos la misma lengua.  Y era a esta región a la que buscaba, quería saber qué pasaba con la gente que la conformamos, pero aparecían solo goteras,  y ninguna articulada entre sí.

Ante este escenario llegue a la Sesión Regional de América Latina, fue un tremendo agrado entrar y escuchar mi idioma, me sentí como en casa, y a medida que las exposiciones se desarrollaban confirmaba que somos una sola región, a la vez que compartimos culturas e idiomas, compartimos también problemas.

Claramente, como dijo  uno de los relatores “somos demasiado pobres para sentarnos en las mesas que tienen poder de decisión mundial, pero demasiado ricos para recibir ayuda internacional”, lo que crea una sensación de injusticia, que se suma la sentencia mencionada por otra relatora,  respecto a que “somos la región más inequitativa del planeta”; y quienes estábamos presentes no lo sabemos por datos estadísticos, lo sabemos porque lo vemos cada día, y lo sentimos en nuestros pueblos. Todo esto sumado a la violencia de género, a la corrupción en manejos presupuestarios a niveles gubernamentales, a las políticas conservadoras en materia de salud sexual, y al estigma y discriminación que enfrentan los HSH, LGBT y trabajadores/as sexuales, hace que los derechos humanos de toda la población se vean afectados (no sólo de las PVVIH sino también de todos quienes vivimos en estas tierras).

Ante tal panorama, ¿qué es lo que se puede hacer?.  Los relatores expusieron diversos caminos, todos para mi gusto, necesarios y urgentes, como actuar a nivel legislativo y asegurar derechos sexuales y reproductivos en la población, protección legal a temáticas relacionadas al VIH/SIDA y Salud Sexual, asegurar una sanidad presupuestaria, trabajar respecto al estigma y discriminación, y abogar por la no criminalización de la transmisión del VIH/SIDA. Sin embargo, como miembro de una organización de la sociedad civil, llamo mi atención el llamado a la unión, a la formación de redes entre todos quienes trabajamos en pro de estos objetivos, ya que en la medida en que somos capaces de reunirnos, seremos capaces de visibilizar la urgencia de estos temas ante la región y el mundo.

Sin duda una meta que no quiere esperar….parece que nuestros pies quieren comenzar a caminar…

Comenzamos a caminar

“What a diverse group: Women!”

Hoda El Mankabady

By Hoda El Mankabady, from the YWCA of Egypt.  Hoda is one the young women of the YWCA delegation at the Conference in Vienna.

The 18th International AIDS Conference in Vienna, with the theme – “Women’s Rights Here – Women’s Rights Now,” held a session on Monday morning: “Our Bodies… Our Rights: Young Women’s Forum on SRHR”,

The objective of the session was to (i) create a safe space to speak openly about SRHR (ii) make the link between SRHR & HIV clear and (iii) create the opportunity to develop clear messages on the subject matter.

The session was quite interactive and engaged the whole audience. It started off with an inter-generational introduction and discussion around why SRHR is important to each one of the participants. It was moderated by our own Sophie Dilmitis, together with another colleague from the World AIDS Campaign.

Many SRHR issues came out of the dialogue, showing the diversity of both the participants as well as the issue. The creation of a safe space to talk about SRHR was one of the issues, young women’s reproductive care another, women with disabilities living with HIV and their access to services, women in prison living with HIV, etc…

After a rich discussion with the active audience, groups were divided by theme and were asked to develop 5 key messages to get across whenever possible and integrate them as an outcome document. The themes were (i) Safe Space (ii) Migrants (iii) Disabilities (iv) Choice (v) Lesbian women and (vi) Sexual Education. The groups were then asked to present their messages. Some of the strong messages were:

  • Honour my choices and give me options to make healthy decisions
  • Domestic violence does exist in lesbian households
  • Call for acceptable, accessible, adaptable, non biased and comprehensive sexual education
  • Disable women are sexual beings too
  • Safe spaces need to be created and initiated by young women for young women
  • SRHR policies need to be translated from paper to people
  • Migrant workers face double stigma

The session was an eye opener. We always talk about women and girls and their SRHR. But this was the first time I realised how diverse the women’s group is. And not just that, but every sub-group of the women’s group has different needs and wants, different messages and different calls for action. It is interesting to try and develop an approach to address all the needs of these groups.

I am looking forward to attending more of these interactive sessions as they not only create a safe space for discussing “taboo” issues, but also allow for inter-generational dialogue, as well as encourage young women to share their ideas and thoughts about issues they may have not had the chance to talk about before.

Talking about sex at CSW 2010

By YWCA of Australia Vice President Roslyn Dundas

Pathfinder International in coalition with a few other organisations such as the Youth Coalition and Population Action International hosted a side event here at CSW on March 1, 2010 looking at Adolescent and Youth Sexual and Reproductive rights. It was great to link with other young women working on issues such as HIV and AIDS and other reproductive rights issues.

We heard from two young women leaders. Ishia Chaudry, founder of the Youth Parliament Foundation in India reminded us all that “you don’t need qualifications to be an activist and believe in something.” Maria Ines Romero from the Youth Coalition called for greater realisation of the fact that “young people should be able to exercise their right to education and information – and this is more than a simple biology lesson.”

Young women need to be involved in discussions and decisions about reproductive rights around the world, especially due to their current knowledge and experience. At the most recent YWCA Regional Training Institute held in the Asia-Pacific YWCAs in the region recognised the link between violence against women, sexual and reproductive health and rights and HIV – and looked to engage with partners and others to speak and advocate for women’s education, economic justice, sexual and reproductive rights, violence against women, HIV and AIDS and human rights, through the leadership of women and young women including at international campaigns and celebrations. CSW is an important forum to do this advocacy and remind many leaders from around the world of the role of young women in tackling the HIV and AIDS pandemic.

Natalia Cales reflects on AIDS 2008

vblog by Natalia Cales

Reflections on the XVII International AIDS Conference…

AIDS 2008: Youth participation has increased, says Alischa

vblog by Natalia Cales

I interviewed Alischa, 28, from Australia who shares her experience as a young woman who has attended five International AIDS Conference. This is a summary of what she says: “Youth participation has grown… when I first went to an International AIDS Conference eight years ago, there was hardly a handful of young people, we were a minority. A lot of people have worked hard to change that… there are 1000 young people this year, not just attending but participating, leading change, asking leaders to make real commitments…”

African-Americans and HIV: how should we respond?

Natalia with Phil Wilson, ED of Black AIDS Institute

Natalia with Phil Wilson, ED of Black AIDS Institute

Contributor: Natalia Cales

While listening to many press conferences and reading the daily AIDS 2008- Global Voice newspaper, it is clear that many feel we are not succeeding in the response HIV and AIDS. From Africa to Asia, in the Caribbean and the United States, HIV is on the rise! Some researchers state “stopping the Epidemic is possible”, but do they really have the “perfect solution”? With additional treatment methods and an increasing ARV medication list, why are the statistics showing this alarming trend.

As a young woman from America, I am very concerned about the recent statistics regarding the rising epidemic. Recently, the Black AIDS Institute (BAI) in the United States published a report, Left Behind, reflecting the state of AIDS in Black America. During a press conference held at the IAC, I had the pleasure to listen to several influential black leaders from the US discuss this report, including Phil Wilson, US Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Pernessa Seele, Dr. Helena Gayle, Sheryl Lee Ralph, and Dr. Jacob Gayle.

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We need mentors, says young woman at ‘AIDS 2008′

vblog by Natalia Cales

I asked Angela, from Kenya, a young woman attending AIDS 2008 what she hoped the outcomes of the conference would be, especially as a young woman since young women are most affected by HIV. She said that she hoped young women would come out of the conference stronger and more empowered…

We can make a change, says young woman

vblog by Natalia Cales

I spoke with Davia from Jamaica, a young woman attending AIDS 2008 who shared with me some of the problems women in Jamaica face. She hopes for change, that the conference will bring about change but also that young women can lead the change!

AIDS 2008: We must have condoms

vblog by Natalia Cales

I interviewed Tais from Brazil who shared with me her experiences from attending the XVII IAC in Mexico City. The most important lesson she learnt during the conference she says is “condoms, condoms, condoms!”

AIDS 2008: Young Women on the move

Contributor: Natalia Cales

Since the opening ceremony of the XVII International AIDS Conference on August 3, over 25,000 people have traveled from around the world in response to the call for Universal Action Now! Many delegates attending have been infected and affected by HIV and AIDS, while others really just want to make a difference and contribute to the response to this pandemic. Numerous influential global leaders are also in attendance addressing many issues as they relate to treatment, education, prevention, awareness, funding, etc.

As I walk around the Mexico City Banamex Center and the Global Village, I am overwhelmed with the number of sessions, activities, exhibitors and press conferences focusing on the epidemic among women and girls. It is very evident that many have recognized the need to address this universal problem, but are there any solutions in the near future? While attending several sessions, the overall goal has been to have more young women at the planning and decision-making table to make these changes a reality. As a young woman, I think this is a great start to meeting our needs.

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