ZIMBABWE: “I shout; I speak out on issues concerning women living with HIV”
Posted by African Press International on April 25, 2010
HARARE, 22 April 2010 (PlusNews) – Evelyn Mashamba is one of Zimbabwe’s most outspoken gender and AIDS activists and has being living with HIV for the past 10 years. She told IRIN/PlusNews how being HIV-positive propelled her into the movement to fight for the rights of women living with the virus.
“I started my work as an activist 2005 in Masvingo [Province in southeastern Zimbabwe]. It so happened that there was a workshop at the College of Primary Health Care and Physicians, and a doctor friend of mine invited me to share my story with the participants.
“Since then I have not looked back – in 2008 I founded an organization known as Shamiso Development Trust, where I am currently the director. Shamiso is an organization that seeks to empower women and girls to claim their space in society, especially since the advent of HIV/AIDS.
“HIV-positive women’s lives can only improve if their income base is improved – most women are stuck in care work, where they are not remunerated due to the fact that programmers have categorized care work as ‘voluntary’.
“It’s sad that the majority of women are doing this unremunerated work. I wonder why women are not paid when they are doing such a wonderful job?
“I have been living with HIV for the past 10 years – it hasn’t been a bed of roses, especially when other people try to pull you down. There have been times when I have gone not knowing when I will get my next medical supply; I have been down and under health-wise, but determination is what has driven me to where I am today.
“HIV/AIDS programming has not been very favourable to us women living with HIV. However, all these challenges have made me stronger, and given me the edge to demystify the pandemic.
“I shout; I speak out on issues concerning women living with HIV. This is what drives me out of bed every day … My dream is to establish a special clinic and wellness centre for women living with HIV … only then will I slow down.”