Africa: Women and AIDS, 12/22/98

Africa: Women and AIDS, 12/22/98

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Region: Continent-Wide Issue Areas: +economy/development+ +gender/women+ Summary Contents: This posting contains the final declaration from the Dakar Panafrican Conference on Women and AIDS in Africa, held in December 1998, as well as a pre-conference announcement from the sponsor, the Society of Women Against AIDS (SWAA). Additional information is available on the web site of the Fondation du Present (, in Switzerland, which hosts discussions on a variety of aids-related topics, including gender and AIDS and AIDS in Africa. The postings from the discussions, and information on how to subscribe, are available at the following addresses:

gender-aids: af-aids: How to join:

If you have e-mail access only, write to Contact mailing addresses and phone numbers for SWAA can be found at the end of the posting below.

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SWAA 7th Panafrican Conference on Women and AIDS in Africa Dakar Declaration 17 December 1998

[The SWAA Conference Initiative is supported by the Fondation du Present, SWAA and UNAIDS]

Knowing the extreme seriousness of the AIDS pandemic in Africa,

Knowing that Africa is the most severely affected continent and that efforts already undertaken in terms of health are seriously jeopardised,

Knowing that life expectancy has already been reduced by ten years in the most severely affected countries,

Knowing the extreme vulnerability of women and children in sub-Saharan Africa,

Knowing the low levels of international solidarity and the aggravation of North/South inequality in terms of the disease and its treatment,

Knowing the inadequacy of prevention efforts, especially aimed at young people,

Knowing the personal suffering caused by AIDS - isolation, stigmatisation, silence and loneliness - and the serious shortcomings of collective measures for people living with AIDS,

Knowing the absolute urgency of strong and motivational measures to complement measures undertaken to promote health,

We, the participants of the Conference on "African Women and AIDS and Men, Our Partners in the Fight against AIDS", make a formal appeal and seek the firm and unwavering commitment of all individuals and institutions signing this declaration, to act to the utmost of our capacities and bring effective solutions to the AIDS pandemic in Africa.

We call for total commitment and increased dialogue between men and women to create an AIDS-free future for African children.

We ask:

* political leaders to tirelessly broadcast messages on the seriousness and urgency of the AIDS problem in order to spur measures against a pandemic that jeopardises all their efforts to develop their countries and the well-being of the people they lead;

* the scientific community to intensify research efforts, especially to develop vaccinations quickly and contribute to the development of immediately accessible medication;

* pharmaceutical laboratories to stop their practice of reserving medications for almost exclusive use by northern countries and to commit themselves to seeking ways of helping reduce inequality between the North and South with respect to the disease;

* international institutions to take epidemic-fighting action as they have in the past, by promoting solidarity in terms of research and rapid availability of vaccinations, and seeking ways of obtaining rapid access to medication by increasing their support for community initiatives and responses;

* Africans with healing knowledge and powers, who are often the only recourse of the sick, to share in supporting the sick and participate in the many and varied forms of case-management efforts;

* spiritual leaders to send out messages that cannot be interpreted as impediments but rather as support for prevention efforts, and to emphasise and reinforce their support for the sick and those close to them;

* legal and statutory authorities to inspire legislation aimed at protecting women and children, as well as people who are denied their rights because of the disease;

* communities to make protection of women a top priority, through measures that strengthen their capacity to make personal decisions and freely participate in social and family life;

* communities not to forget their children, whose future cannot be secure without strong social protection and universal access to education and prevention;

* for increased prevention, which remains a top priority: prevention should begin much earlier in life and should be applied to all social groups, especially those who are forgotten and who are often the most affected, prevention messages should be bolder and seek new avenues, especially aimed at young people, girls and boys;

* that cultural traditions be reconsidered and no longer seen as obstacles to prevention and as a means of transmitting the disease, and that they be used judiciously to reinforce solidarity and promote life;

We declare our firm commitment to seeking, diversifying and reinforcing community responses to the pandemic, to emphasising respect for people infected by AIDS, and to working towards a future without AIDS for African children, women and men.

All participants are requested to distribute this declaration as widely as possible in their respective countries and collect the signatures of all individuals and institutions who wish to demonstrate their commitment to responding to the challenge of AIDS and saving African children, women and men.

If you want put your name behind this declaration, send a message to:

we will pass on all responses received to The Society for African Women and AIDS.


About Society of Women Against AIDS and conference under the auspices of SWAA/SENEGAL scheduled for December 14-17, 1998, Dakar, Senegal


Realizing Africa's peculiarity as regards the AIDS epidemic, a group of women has decided to mobilize itself and speak as one, and to set up SWAA, Society of Women Against Aids. Or women's Panafricanist Organization for the fight Against AIDS. Since its inception in 1989, SWAA provides African women with a framework for dialogue and expression that enabler them to fully play their role in the prevention and control of HIV infection. African women's great vulnerability no longer needs to be proved. The weight of prejudices and taboos, socio-economic conditions have made women victims of the lack of equal opportunities that prevent them from having access to education, training, paid employment information about health issues... It is therefore essential to define lines of action taking into account women's status.

As a mater of tact, it is recognized that any action that tends to improve women health has an impact on a nation's ability to control its destiny: Women who are educated, informed, free to decide what to do with their lives constitutes an efficient weapon in the fight against health problems such as HIV/AIDS.


Its key objectives are as follows:

- Sensitize and raise the level of awaress of African women on AIDS and its consequences. - Educate African women on HIV/AIDS prevention, taking into account their socio-cultural realities. - Provide support to women and children infected with HIV/AIDS.


The major activities aim at mobilizing women and making them act for a change in behaviors and practices that encourage the transmission of HIV infection (sororote "levirat", excision etc). Sensibilization and education on beliefs and superstitions, traditional norms and values that encourage the stigmatizing of women and young girls. Reducing female prostitution through the creation of income generating activities and the promotion of safe sex. Supporting people directly or indirectly affected by HIV. Reviewing the ways and means of collaboration with exiting women organizations, international institutions national committees for the fight against AIDS for a better control of this epidemic. Peer group education is the strategy adopted by SWAA women, the youth, especially teenagers can easily be reached in their environment by sensitization and education programs.


SWAA's consists of 3 structures:

1-The executive Board: Composed of eleven women from ten countries, the Board is entrusted with the planning and monitoring of SWAA's major activities 'setting up national branches, organizing conferences and the general assembly every two years.) The Executive Board ensures the link between national sections and financial backers on the one hand between national section and NGOs fighting against AIDS on the other hand. Through UNAIDS support a head office was set up in Dakar since January 1998, the purpose being to carry out activities efficiently while ensuring a better coordination. An administrative assistant is in charge of the communication between the eight national sections, the Executive Board and international partner.

2- Regional offices: A group of four coordinators: West, East, Central and Southern Africa ensure coordination and supervision at regional level.

3- National branches: Semi-autonomous, they enable the decentralization of grass root activities. Each branch develops and implements programs, taking into account its realities. SWAA is present in 28 countries in Africa.


Since its founding SWAA has organized six conferences under the following themes:

* United against AIDS 'Harare, Zimbabwe 1989)

* Coming to terms with AIDS' impact (lagos Nigeria 1990)

* Obstacles to AIDS' prevention (Yaounde Cameroon 1991)

* AIDS an family (Arusha, Tanzanie 1992)

* AIDS: a family disease (Lusaka, Zambia 1994)

* AIDS: grassroots challenges

Over 25 African countries have participated in these conferences. Communications and recommendations from these conferences have been widely published and broadcasted in various ways such as:

- Oral presentation women AIDS: new and old problems (1989) At the annual meeting of the association of African studies. Atlanta, Georgia USA. - 5th international conference on AIDS in Africa (Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo 1990). - AIDS in the 1990's both a collective and individual responsibility communication presented at the 7th International Conference an AIDS. 3RD WORLD Congress on STD's (Amsterdam, Holland July 1992) - A publication triple trap by Panos Institute, London. Describes the report of SWAA's second conference. - A SWAA's satellite symposium: Working with the youth organized in collaboration with WHO/GPA during the 7th International Conference on AIDS in Africa, (December 1993, Marrakech, Marroco) - AIDS: women and gender: Presentation during plenary session by a SWAA Executive member at the 7th International Conference on AIDS. - In addition five reports have been developed on the Conference (1989-1990-1991-1992-1994) as well as Summaries and recommendations.

4- 7th Conference on women and Aids in Africa.

The 7th Conference will be held in Dakar, Senegal from December 14-17- under the auspices of SWAA/SENEGAL.

4-1- General Theme

"Expanding the response: Men as our partners in the fight against AIDS"

4-1- The steering Committee is composed of:

- SWAA/SENEGAL - SWAA/Executive Board - The Senegal National Committee for the fight against AIDS - The Senegal Ministry of Public Health and Social Action


4-3- The goal of the conference

To improve awareness of AIDS' realities and the need for an effective partnership men/women for a better control of the epidemic.

4-4- The objectives of the 7th conference

- Sensitize public opinion about the impact of AIDS on African women and the vulnerability factors. - Encourage men to better participate in the fight against AIDS. - Formulate recommendations in order to strengthen HIV/AIDS prevention with the family. - Establish a solidarity network so that African women living with HIV could have easy access to quality care, especially to anti-retrovirus. - Examine the ways and means to enhance a more effective involvement of men in the fight against AIDS in for African women's access to prevention through AZT , of the mother to child transmission. - Define alternative strategies to breastfeeding, that are adapted to the African socio-cultural economic context.


Pr. Ag Charlotte Faty NDIAYE, President SWAA/SENEGAL, BP 5035 CHU Fann, Senegal; Tel/Fax: (221) 24 37 22

Dr. Ibra NDOYE, Coordinator of the National committee for the fight against AIDS, Service d'Hygiene Sociale, Tel (221) 822 90 45

Dr. Eka Esu-WILLIAMS, President SWAA/NIGERIA, C/o 1601 Adeola Hopewell Street, Victoria Island, Lagos-NIGERIA; Tel: 234 1 610773, Fax 234 1 2612815

Dr. Claire MULANGA KABEYA, International Cordinator, SWAA, 28, av Rainbaud d'Orange, 34080 Montpellier France; Tel (33) 97 41 63 13 (o) (33) 67 45 25 64 (h) Fax 33 67 54 78 00

From: Date: Tue, 22 Dec 1998 10:49:06 +030

Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D

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