Supporting local partner organisation Gweru Women AIDS Prevention Association (GWAPA) to assist in the care and education of the children of sex workers orphaned as a result of one or both parents dying from AIDS. With the additional funding of this project, GWAPA will be able to support over 30 orphans by paying for their school fees, uniforms and books.
Part of a larger project
Orphan care is one aspect of a larger HIV and AIDS program that Oxfam Australia is supporting. This project will work to prevent the spread of STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections), HIV and AIDS among sex workers and other women vulnerable to engaging in sex work, such as widows and divorcees, in three locations: Gweru, Shurugwi and Zvishavane. These women are at greater risk of becoming infected with STIs and HIV because sex work is often the only source of income for women without husbands. With this in mind, this project will provide vulnerable women with peer education and counselling around the prevention of STIs, HIV and AIDS. It will support them to establish alternative incomes through micro-credit programs and income generating activities, such as developing market gardens, poultry farms and roadside stalls. Children who have been left orphaned from HIV and AIDS will also be provided with care and education. Building on the first stage of the project which began in 2004, this project will continue – for the next twelve months onwards – in its crucial work towards minimising and reducing the spread of STIs, HIV and AIDS among women in Zimbabwe.
Broader HIV/AIDS issues
In 2003, 53% of new adult HIV and AIDS infections were women. This higher rate of infection is largely due to the inherent gender inequities faced by women in Zimbabwe everyday. Not only do women earn significantly less money than men, but they are left vulnerable and impoverished if their husband dies or their marriage breaks down. To survive, women may often resort to sex work for income, which places them at huge risk of acquiring and transmitting HIV and AIDS. Other factors, such as the stigma attached to condom use, rural urban migration, and the lack of discussion about HIV and AIDS among families and communities, only exacerbates the risk of infection and transmission.
The Midlands Province, Zimbabwe
Gweru, Shurugwi and Zvishavane towns are located in the Midlands province of Zimbabwe, where the rate of sex work is very high. As the capital of Midlands province, Gweru attracts people from rural areas who are searching for work and the chance to build a better life. However, the number of people looking for work far exceeds the number of jobs available. For many women, sex work becomes the only means for earning a living which makes them vulnerable to becoming infected with HIV and AIDS. To help reduce how often this happens, this project aims to empower women to make informed choices before resorting to sex work as a source of livelihood.
Oxfam Australia has learned that these projects only work with the buy-in and commitment of the local people, in this case, GWAPA members. They are involved in conducting orphan care. This increases ownership of the project, helps keep costs down, and allows communities to take care of themselves on a long-term basis.
About Our Partner Organisation
Gweru Women AIDS Prevention Association (GWAPA) was established in 1993 to help control the spread of STIs, HIV and AIDS among sex workers. Oxfam Australia has worked with GWAPA since 2004. Since its early days as a peer education program, GWAPA has expanded the scope of its activities to include health support, counselling, advocacy, and establishing market gardens and poultry farms. This project will consolidate and strengthen the important work that GWAPA began in Gweru in 2004, and will continue to expand the breadth of its activities into Zvishavane and Shurugwi. This can be achieved by funding the existing office and activities to keep running, and by providing reliable transport to cut travel times between towns.