Oslo workshop: Focus on women in the fight against HIV/AIDS

Published: 7 September 2001 0:00 CET

"We have to adapt our approach better to women's needs and women's situations, to be more successfull in the battle against HIV and AIDS", says Federation president Dr. Astrid Nøklebye Heiberg.

Women from 60 Red Cross or Red Crescent Societies will meet in Oslo today for two days of discussions on Red Cross activities in response to the HIV and AIDS pandemic. A workshop on HIV/AIDS hosted by the Norwegian Red Cross will bring together more than 100 women leaders, professionals and volunteers from all over the world.

"Women are particularly exposed to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Women are more easily infected than men. Because of cultural, social and economic factors women often have less control over their sexual life. In addition, it is women who shoulder the burden of caring for family members living with and dying from AIDS. And it is women who take on the additional burden of stepping in and caring for children who lose their parents to AIDS", says Dr Heiberg, who looks forward to participating in the International Workshop.

"It is possible to effectively prevent the spread of HIV if concerted, sustained and scaled up measures are taken at all levels based on interventions that work. Women hold the key to progress, both on prevention, care and stigma reduction", says Dr. Heiberg. "It is crucial that women's involvement is increased and strengthened. In all aspects of our activities, the contribution of Red Cross and Red Crescent women is vital in order to reach women locally".

"The Red Cross and Red Crescent women know the local communities, the situation of women, constraints, potentials and opportunities. Our joint knowledge can indicate to us all the best way forward, how to adapt activities, messages and strategies to the situation of women", says Dr Heiberg.

"Our voice must be heard, both in the international debate and in Red Cross and Red Crescent national and local societies. Women must take leadership, to ensure that this work is given priority, and that priorities are followed up. And we must recruit and train more women volunteers", says Dr. Heiberg.

Among the topics that the participants will be discussing at the workshop is how the Red Cross/ Red Crescent can cooperate with women's groups locally, how the Red Cross movement can be involved in sex education, and how it can best support the ever increasing number of children orphaned due to AIDS.

"The Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers that are living with HIV are contributing greatly to breaking the silence that has created such favourable conditions for fast transmission of HIV. These women work actively every day to build the capacity of people living with HIV/AIDS and to change behaviour in order to prevent the spread of the epidemic. I welcome in particular their participation in this International Workshop", concludes Dr Heiberg.

For more information, http://www.norcross.no/workshop