Association seeks investment in HIV programmes for women, girl carriers

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Association of Women Living With HIV/AIDS (ASWHAN) in Nigeria has called on governments at various levels, national and international donors and the relevant stakeholders to accelerate investment in HIV programmes for women and girls living with HIV.

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Addressing community mentor mothers in Umuahia, Abia State in commemoration of the year 2024 International Women’s Day, with the association’s theme: ‘Count Women Living With HIV In; Accelerating Gender Equality Through Economic Empowerment,’ the Abia State coordinator of ASWHAN, Mrs Phina Ogbuagu, also called for support to the association with economic empowerment and life building skills, to aid it to empower about 56 percent of women living with HIV in Nigeria, to live a decent and productive life.

The association also called on government at all levels to include women living with HIV in the Social Investment Fund; Conditional Cash Transfers; palliative distribution and also create employment opportunities for them.

She said, “ASWHAN is calling on donor partners to support us with funding and technical support to help build the capacities of our members, especially the support groups at the grassroots, to enable them to engage with their communities and to advocate for their rights. We call on small and medium enterprise organizations to include ASWHAN in their skills acquisition and economic empowerment programmes, to train our women on different business skills, support them with small grants to boost their businesses and support us to form cooperatives. We want our women to be economically empowered. Women Living with HIV are suffering with no source of income and are burdened with children and other dependents to take care of.”

Mrs Ogbuagu also passionately appealed to federal and state Ministries of Justice; Human Rights Commission; state Houses of Assembly to ensure domestication of the anti-stigma law and enforcement where needed, to protect the rights of WLWH, observing that gender equality has remained one of the greatest human rights challenge women living with HIV experience in their daily affairs.

She also called for the engagement of ASWHAN in the Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmissions program implementation and service delivery, maintaining that no child should be born with HIV, hence the urgent need to make ASWHAN the face of PMTCT in Nigeria to end mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

Furthermore, the Abia State ASWHAN coordinator passionately called on religious leaders to always preach non-discriminatory messages in places of worship, to allow women living with HIV marry spouses of choice.

 

PUNCH/Wumi

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