Zimbabwean Young Feminist featured on #WhatWomenWant Young Feminist Blog Series

YOUNG FEMINISTS BLOG SERIES ON #WhatWomenWant Featuring Nyasha Sithole

Responses by Nyasha Sithole- Zimbabwe

#WhatWomenWant campaign is a collaborative effort launched by the ATHENA network. The Campaign aims to engage activists and advocates in women’s civil society & feminist organizations to contribute towards renewed leadership and drive momentum toward realizing the vision, priorities and rights of women and girls in all of their diversity and to end HIV as a public health emergency. The objective of #WhatWomenWant is to utilize the political moment at hand presented by the newly adopted SDGs and the upcoming High Level Meeting on AIDS to ensure that women’s priorities for HIV prevention; freedom from violence, an end to GBV and sexual and reproductive health and rights are amplified and reflected in the Political Declaration to be produced at the High Level Meeting. ATHENA and partners aims for this global virtual conversation to place women and girls squarely at the center of all agendas, to provide a platform for operationalizing gender equality in the HIV movement and outside of it, and to catalyse cross-movement dialogue and action toward what truly works for women and girls in their diversity.

  1. What do you see as the current gaps in the HIV response for women and girls and what are key barriers to accessing HIV/SRHR services?

Participation of adolescent girls and young women as project deliverers is the gap in the HIV response. There is also a gap in terms of consistency and representation of girls and women who are advocates on HIV. This affects the trends of advocacy and it is hard to track the results of advocacy work done. A barrier to accessing HIV and SRH information is due to lack of girls and women friendly services and lack of adequate information on the availability of services.

  1. What effective strategies have worked in your community to prevent and address GBV in all its forms and what laws do you think need to be strengthened or repealed to help prevent and address GBV, protect the rights of women and girls in all of our diversity.

Capacity building women and girls with adequate information, knowledge and skills to be advocates and champions against GBV has worked in my community. In most cases GBV is perpetrated due to lack of understanding and management of unequal power and gender relations between men and women in societies. Empowering women and men in societies to respect and manage power and gender relations is effective in dealing with prevention of GBV.

  1. Why do we need a feminist HIV response?

HIV has been given  and consequently adopted the face of women and girls, women are seen as vectors of transmission, women carry the burden of care, women lack knowledge on HIV and other aspects of their sexual and reproductive health and rights, and women are more vulnerable to infections because of their biological formation, social and economic status in society. Therefore in the HIV response it is very important to have the voice feminists and apply a feminist angle towards the  HIV response.

  1. How can young women be supported to break structural barriers that hinder the progress towards gender equality

One major structural barrier is an issue of economic resources, for young women to engage in processes be it conferences, meetings etc we need resources. Secondly we also need capacity building it’s not enough to be given the space and resources to do something without capacity building for example if i am nominated to represent at a meeting who is there to mentor and support me to ensure that I deliver?

  1. The world will meet in June at the High Level Meeting on AIDS 2016, what is one of the things you would like to see come out of this meeting. Especially, that it happens after adoption of SDGs

Resources is a word that is important  in achieving desired outcomes in the HIV response as well as the SDGs. Inadequate funding has hindered women from actively participating in initiatives on HIV . These initiatives vary from Conferences, High Level Meetings, advocacy platforms, and programming. Therefore there is need to mobilize resources to strengthen engagement of women and girls in the HIV response.

Catherine is a Mandela Fellow 2016, Women Deliver Young Leader and member of Youth RISE International working group. Catherine is a passionate young African feminist activist with over 7 years of experience in advancing gender equality, youth development and sexual and reproductive health and rights in the context of sustainable development through movement building, digital and social media, policy advocacy and capacity building for young women and adolescents girls. Catherine is currently Deputy Director at Dandelion Kenya, and sits on the SDGs Kenya Forum coordination committee. Catherine has engaged with various global and regional policy processes such as ICPD Beyond 2014 review, Beijing +20 and the post 2015 development agenda. She co-authored the article ‘Leave No One Behind; Will African Women be left behind in the post 2015 development agenda ,an article published on the East African Business Monthly in February 2015. Catherine launched the #SRHRDialogues, an online advocacy and awareness raising platform on SRHR and #YAFDialogues, an online platform anticipated to be a permanent mobilizing platforms borne out of an African feminist dialogue 2015 in Accra. Follow her on Twitter: @catherinenyamb1

Subscribe to our mailing list