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 Declaration of Women AIDS Activism and Leadership Workshop and Founding Statement of the WoMandla AI
 WoMandla AI, South Africa
 June 23, 2005

We are 50 women AIDS activists living with and affected by HIV and AIDS in South Africa who met at Tropicana Hotel in Durban 5-6 June 2005. We resolved to form a network called WoMandla AIDS Network (WIN) to express our power and unity as women AIDS activists in addressing sexism in relation to AIDS. The WIN network will address our marginalisation in the AIDS activist sector. It will also campaign against the wider societal marginalisation of socio-economic, political and cultural issues affecting women living with and affected by HIV and AIDS.

The WIN network will be made up of women AIDS activists only and will specifically address gender issues in relation to AIDS as we women are more vulnerable to HIV infection and bare more of the impact of HIV and AIDS. AIDS will never be adequately addressed without empowering women and girls and no campaign or program will succeed without a recognition of this. We demand that HIV positive women and women affected by AIDS be fully and meaningfully involved in all decision-making, policy-making and strategy making by global, government, civil society, business and research organisations.

We call on the academic community, donors and government to fund and support more research into the gender-specific treatment needs of women. Therefore, we will monitor whether abstracts at the AIDS conference adequately address the needs of women.

In addition to which, our network will campaign for the following to be included in government AIDS policy documents to be developed in future, including the 2005-2010 Strategic AIDS Plan:

Woman-focused prevention services:

Government prevention campaigns and services must fully address the needs of all women of all sexual orientations. We demand greater access to pap smears, female controlled methods of HIV prevention (such as, microbicides, female condoms and dental dams).

Government must improve access to post-exposure prophylaxis for women who are survivors of sexual assault.

Women focused treatment services:

We condemn the slow pace of the government's treatment roll out because our fellow women activists are dying in large numbers. We demand a quality roll out including wider affordable access to prophylaxis for opportunistic Infections and better monitoring of side effects.

We demand collection of gender disaggregated statistics on government's ARV roll-out, so that we can monitor how many women are accessing ARVs through the public sector roll-out.

Women-focused care and support:

We demand quality ongoing non-stigmatising counseling for ourselves, our families and communities, as part of government HIV and AIDS-related health and social service provision.

We demand a streamlining of the bureaucracy around social grants and fair remuneration and working conditions for all home-based care-givers, those caring for orphans and vulnerable children and volunteers in AIDS advocacy organisations.

Policies and programs addressing the needs of marginalised women

We demand an abolition of the red refugee ID book, which fosters unfair xenophobic discrimination and that government ensures that refugee and asylum seekers receive equal and fair treatment at all public health facilities.

An end to sexism:

We call upon government, business and civil society institutions to condemn sexism, tokenism, marginalisation and the limited visibility of women in the AIDS field by developing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating progressive gender policies and programmes.

We call upon our government to report on progress achieved in the status of women in terms of the CEDAW convention. We demand that government consult with women AIDS activists in so doing.

We demand greater inclusion and visibility of marginalised women such as lesbians and bisexual women, differently-abled women, sex workers and refugee women in the AIDS sector in South Africa and their equal non-stigmatising access to health care.

We condemn all forms of violence against women including rape and coercive sex. We demand that health professionals and police cease in treating rape and gender-based violence survivors in a sexist and stigmatising way when providing services. Women AIDS activists DEMAND an equal voice!!
Women in AIDS UNITED will never be defeated!!

From Agenda, June 24, 2005.