*pictured, WUSC partner organization in Malawi: Coalition of Women Living with HIV and AIDS (COWLHA)
In Malawi, women are more vulnerable to HIV infection than men, and must overcome barriers to access treatment, care, and support.
Women and girls living with HIV and AIDS face discrimination and violence from several levels, including:
- in the home (domestic and sexual violence),
- in accessing services (discrimination by healthcare professionals and police), and
- within their community (stigmatization, neglect and “victim blaming”).
This project aims to ensure that the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls living with HIV and AIDS are respected, protected and upheld.
- increase the protection and promotion of sexual and reproductive health rights of women living with HIV and AIDS;
- improve access to sexual and reproductive health services for HIV-positive women and girls;
- and improve the technical capacity of COWLHA and WOFAD to promote sexual and health rights.
In Malawi, women’s rights, including sexual and reproductive rights, are protected and promoted under various laws and policies. However, lawmakers are unable or unwilling to enforce the laws and policies at all levels. This inadequate enforcement is caused by limited awareness of the laws and policies and weak structures and systems at district and community levels.
At the community level, harmful cultural practices also promote gender-based violence and prevent enforcement of the policies and laws. Most women living with HIV do not have knowledge of or access to contraceptives, or they are prevented from using them by their partners.
Alternatively, HIV-positive women who choose to not have children are often stigmatized for breaking social and gender norms. Yet if they do have children, communities blame these women for infecting their children. When HIV-positive women seek services from healthcare workers or police, they often experience stigma and discrimination.
WUSC's We Have Rights Too! Protecting the Rights of Women and Girls Living with HIV and AIDS in Malawi is funded by the Tilitonse Fund. It is implemented in partnership with Women for Fair Development (WOFAD) and the Coalition of Women Living with HIV and AIDS (COWLHA).