Breaking the Silence

Levi Strauss & Co.
February 1, 2013

In order to help end HIV/AIDS among women, we also have to break the silence about violence against women. This is Christine’s philosophy, and it’s what drives this activist to organize group meetings for women affected by HIV/AIDS in her country of Zambia.

All around the world, but particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, violent norms and practices against women put them at a higher risk of contracting HIV. In addition, fear of further abuse or the social stigma surrounding the virus often dissuades women from learning their HIV status — or from sharing it with partners and families.

With support from the Levi Strauss Foundation, the Global Fund for Women empowers activists like Christine to confront the stigma and discrimination that perpetuates abuse and fuels the spread of HIV/AIDS among women.

Christine is part of Central Action on HIV/AIDS (CAHA), a local partner of the Global Fund for Women. For the past 11 years, the women at CAHA — three of whom are pictured above — have organized community meetings in over 100 rural and urban communities. The gatherings provide a safe space for women to learn about HIV/AIDS issues, including the ways in which violence can put them at risk of infection.

Police officials, who often play a role in perpetuating gender-based violence, are learning how to be part of the solution, too. As they attend community meetings and hear from women first-hand, they report significant changes in their own behavior, leading them to be more supportive of women experiencing abuse or living with HIV/AIDS.

CAHA’s strategy has proven so successful that Zambia’s First Lady has taken notice, inviting Christine and her peers to a strategic planning session that may result in increased government funding for CAHA’s programs.

Thanks to the Levi Strauss Foundation’s support, the Global Fund for Women has been able to support dozens of pioneering leaders like Christine who work on behalf of all women to create a peaceful and healthy world.

Take action and break the silence with Christine and others by signing Global Fund for Women’s petition to the end violence against women.

Zoe Blumenfeld