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Orange The World For All Women
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

Across the world, violence against women and girls remains one of the most serious - and the most tolerated - human rights violations, both a cause and a consequence of gender inequality and discrimination. Its continued presence is one of the clearest markers of societies out of balance and that needs to change. Although there is no single solution to such a complex problem, there is growing evidence of the range of actions that can stop violence before it happens, especially if they are implemented in parallel. In this special op-ed to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which is beginning of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, makes a call to “orange the world”.

Community mobilisation, group interventions for women and men, educational programmes and empowerment of women are some of the interventions that have impact, when they are put together with other legal, behavioural and social changes.

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 WFS Ref: OPIOB16 650 words

Will It Be The End of AIDS In 2030?
Syed Mohammad Afsar

These days, news on HIV/AIDS swings between hope and caution. There is a surge of hope when one takes a look at the life of Seema and her daughter in India, who are successfully fighting the disease with the help of ART (antiretroviral treatment) – in fact, Seema’s daughter has just graduated from college and is raring to make a name for herself in the professional world, an accomplishment that would have seemed impossible a decade ago. And yet, all is not well when only 40 per cent people living with HIV have access to ART, just 51 per cent of those infected know their status, or the prevalence of HIV amongst adolescent girls and young women in southern and eastern Africa is five times higher than amongst their male counterparts. Clearly, AIDS is not over in any part of the world and so getting complacent is not an option right now. While ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030, as envisioned in the Sustainable Development Goal-3, is certainly attainable, there is still a long way to go. A World AIDS Day exclusive by Syed Mohammad Afsar, Senior Technical Specialist, HIV/AIDS and World of Work Branch, International Labour Organization (ILO), Geneva.

“Only a massive and rapid expansion of a comprehensive AIDS response between now and 2020 can achieve the highly ambitious UN goal of ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.”

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 WFS Ref: QQQOB16 970 words

Living On A Positive Note
Rakhi Ghosh

“HIV positive people live in shame, depression and do not speak up for their rights; we give them the confidence to do so. I have seen widowed positive women being denied their share in the husband’s property. We rally around them, helping them to get their rightful share. There are also complaints of doctors, nurses and health workers not attending on positive patients. With our efforts this problem has been solved.” For people living with HIV/AIDS, it’s the strong social backing, heartfelt concern as well as assistance in the form of legal services or vocational trainings offered by their support group that are the true life-savers. The Kalinga Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Odisha is no different. Set up by one infected woman, who hit rock bottom but eventually decided to fight back, this group, with centres across different districts like Sambalpur, Bargarh, Angul, Bhadrak, Puri, Koraput, Nayagarh and Kendrapara, is making a huge difference to positive people and their families.

“God has given me an opportunity to help and understand other positive women and fight for their rights.”

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 WFS Ref: INDMC05R 1100 words

It’s “Mushroom-ing” Opportunities For Assam’s Women
Azera Parveen Rahman

‘Over the last few years, the rains have become quite erratic. Either we have incessant downpours that end up flooding the whole area or there are long spells of absolutely dry weather. This uncertainty has severely affected paddy cultivation, which initially had an adverse impact on our household income as well as nutritional status. Fortunately, that’s not the case anymore. We have a foolproof alternative now.’ In the lush countryside of Assam’s Golaghat district women like Aroti Devi, Jyoti Moni Das and others have discovered a new source of livelihood that has transformed them from quiet homemakers and agri-workers to “empowered farmers”. With support from the Mushroom Development Foundation, which works closely with the North East Institute of Science and Technology, the hardworking wives and mothers have taken to mushroom cultivation in a big way. As the initial investment is low – they can grow different varieties of the edible fungi in jute bags or bamboo frames – and the returns significant – a kilo of oyster mushrooms can fetch anywhere between Rs 100 to Rs 250 – today, they are relieved that they can build a better future for their children on their own terms.

“With mushroom farming, we finally have an assured income, no matter how small. It enables me to at least plan something concrete for the future.”

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 WFS Ref: INDOB17 1200 words

Those With HIV Are “Not A Lost Cause”
Saadia Azim

Simaran Nesa, 14, contracted HIV from her mother, Suraiya Begum, after the older woman met with an accident while she was expecting Nesa, her third child. Transfusions with untested blood completely changed the course of Suraiya’s life and that of her unborn baby. Today, both mother and daughter are unconditionally loved by Nesa’s father, Md. Reyazuddin, a teacher in Thoubal district in Manipur, and it is his support that is their greatest strength. Whereas both mother and daughter “are aware of our positive status and make it a point to religiously have our medicines and take all necessary precautions for the sake of the other family members” what they really want is that “there must be greater efforts made to counsel others so that they too learn to live with people like us”. In the last decade, states in northeast India have registered a greater number of HIV cases than other parts of the country. According to the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) status report, Manipur has more than 25,000 registered people living with HIV. Their children, whether infected or not, are plagued by the fear of being identified and treated badly.

“Whereas we are counselling positive people we realise that there is an urgent need to counsel ordinary citizens as well so that they do not brand people. After all, the ART works only when people have good nutrition and living conditions.”

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 WFS Ref: INDO729R 1150 words
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