Sarah Mukasa, the Programme Director of Africa Women’s Development Fund (AWDF) has said in Freetown that her organization is engaged in the fight against HIV/ AIDS.
Speaking at a training of women’s rights and HIV held at Kimbima hotel organized by Action Aid Sierra Leone and AWDF West Africa, she said since its in caption, her organization had supported 500 women’s organizations in 41 countries in the tune of $7 million.
Mukasa said HIV/AIDS had the face of an African woman “who is marginalized in lot of ways” including economically, socially and physically. She said because of these factors this fund was set up to support women in their various communities.
The AWDF director went on to say that her organization was giving support to women who give much of themselves and take up leadership responsibility in their little ways.
She thundered, “We want the voices of women to be heard. We want to strengthen women in leadership skills to be part of decision-making especially on how resources can be spent for the society. Unless we gather ourselves around the different work things cannot be done.”
She added that women were working in a hostile atmosphere. The director of the National AIDS Secretariat, Dr Brima Kargbo said they seek to improve the situation of women which he said had been one of the successes of their cause. He said HIV was over 20 years and that women accounted for about half of the estimated 40 million people living with the virus. He said young women between 15 and 24 years were more infected and three times more likely to be infected than young men.
The NAS director stated that because women were not allowed to exercise their rights they could easily be infected with the disease by their loved ones, and that women should not be regarded as victims rather should be seen as leaders in this fight.
Dr Kargbo said much should be done in the fight against AIDS, adding that they could n o longer afford to ignore the struggle of women in the fight against HIV/AIDS. He said all must endeavour to put an end to the stigma and discrimination that limits women’s access to treatment and leave them responsible for taking care of the ill and dying.
Country Director of Action Aid, Tennyson Williams said there must be solutions to Aids and it can come if people take the bold step to go beyond rhetoric.
“The face of the earth will not change until and unless we tackle those that deliver service are taken into serious consideration” Mr Williams said.