“NONE BUT OURSELVES CAN END THE SCOURGE OF HIV AND AIDS AMONG WOMEN AND GIRLS”
By *Namuka Marimo
The Former Deputy President of Uganda, Dr Speciosa Wandira- Kazibwe, has called on African women in general and women Parliamentarians in particular, to take up the cudgels in the fight for the emancipation of women in Africa and in stemming the rising tide of HIV infections among women and girls in the SADC region.
Wandire- Kazibwe, a passionate proponent of gender equality and women’s rights, was addressing delegates at the official opening of the first- ever Women’s Parliament for female legislators in the SADC Region which is currently underway at the Eden Bleu Hotel in Mahe, Seychelles. The inaugural Women’s Parliament, convened by the SADC Parliamentary Forum, is a precursor to the 41st Plenary Assembly of the SADC Parliamentary Forum.
In an impassioned plea reminiscent of the sobering words of the late reggae icon, Bob Marley’s timeless classic, Redemption Song, Dr Wandire- Kazibwe reminded African women that the responsibility of advancing the women’s agenda lay squarely on their own shoulders.
“None but ourselves can emancipate ourselves and end the scourge of HIV and AIDS among women and girls.”
She added that in order for women to be able to effectively advance their emancipation and the fight against the debilitating scourge of HIV and AIDS, it is critically important for them to be economically empowered through education. This would reduce the cycle of dependency on their male counterparts which, in essence, only serves to perpetuate the unequal power relations between men and women, boys and girls.
Dr. Wandire- Kazibwe noted with concern the high prevalence of new HIV infections among young women aged between 15 and 24 years, which had reached an unprecedented peak of over 2000 new infections per week. Accordingly, this required a focused and pointed response from women legislators if the fight against the epidemic was not to be reduced to mere rhetoric.
*Ndamuka Marimo is a Director in the Office of the Clerk of the Parliament of Zimbabwe.