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[afro-nets] Invitation to the Launch of "Changing The River's Flow Series" at SA AIDS Conference 2009

  • From: "Kevin Mazorodze" <kevin@safaids.org.zw>
  • Date: Fri, 27 Mar 2009 08:51:01 +0200

Dear colleagues,

Southern Africa HIV and AIDS Information Dissemination Service (SAfAIDS) invites you the launch of their new series "Changing the River's Flow Series - A multi-purpose package for those of you who are looking for new and innovative ways of working with communities to address gender dynamic in a cultural context to address HIV and AIDS in Africa.


While it is universally understood and accepted that traditional and cultural ideologies and practices that promote male dominance and marginalization of women are key drivers of the epidemic in Africa, not much is known about how to effectively address these practices in a way that will increase gender equality and reduce African women's vulnerability to HIV. Because power relations are embedded so deeply into the fabric of African society more often than not even the most well-intentioned laws and policies do not reach them. Despite the many years of working around gender equality, in Africa, many programmers still lack in-depth understanding and appreciation of how these systems and structures work making them ineffective in their efforts to meaningfully improve the lives of women and reduce HIV and AIDS.

In the last few years there has been realization by SAfAIDS and others that there are better ways of working within the realm of cultures that does not alienate the custodians of those cultures. Some of those include a focus on capacity building of communities to support them first to understand how culture is linked to gender inequality and HIV, and secondly by focusing only on addressing the negative cultures while promoting the positive.

For the last two years SAfAIDS in partnership with Seke Rural, has implemented a pilot project in Zimbabwe in which Community Dialogues were used to address harmful cultural practices. Positive results have been noted and documented. From this project SAfAIDS has developed series of training materials and tools to support programmers who are interested in advancing their work with communities on addressing culture. These materials have been packaged under the theme: Changing the river's Flow Series - A multi-purpose package. This theme was derived from our understanding that like a river, culture may seem permanent but this is a trick of our perception because culture is always changing and adjusting to different circumstances. Moreover, just as the molecules of a river, acting together, constantly reproduce or transform the rapids, waves and whirlpools, so human beings, acting together, constantly reproduce or transform our cultural norms. These waves, whirlpools or cultural norms may seem to be static objects, but they are really processes. We cannot scoop out a whirlpool and forever remove it, as it will simply reform. To stop a whirlpool we would have to, literally, "change the river's flow"

Likewise, we cannot simply pick out a cultural norm and remove it. Because these norms and processes. To transform them, we need to understand and change the forces and mechanisms behind them. Therefore, our use of the metaphor of a river is a reminder to be respectful of culture and to celebrate its richness and diversity; we agree that certain aspects of culture no longer serve us.

Do not miss this opportunity to get yourself a copy of this package which will be distributed at the launch!

Launch of Changing the River's Flow Series: Challenging gender dynamics in a cultural context to address HIV

Date : Wednesday 1 April 2009

Time : Starting at 5pm to 6pm

Venue : SAfAIDS Exhibition Stand 54 Durban ICC

Kindly confirm attendance by sending an email to: florence@safaids.net or madamrochas@yahoo.com

Kevin Mazorodze
17 Beveridge Road, Avondale
Harare, Zimbabwe
Tel: +263-4-336193-4, 307898
Fax: +263-4-336195
Web: http://www.safaids.net
Skype: kevinmazz

HIV and AIDS Information: The Power To Make A Difference