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#ActivateImbizo: Democracy in Action

Categories: ALL THE NEWS , Civil Action/Philanthropy, Advocacy , Youth
The past week has been robust and engaging, as ACTIVATE! Took to rural communities to engage with the youth and to journey the “Road Less Travelled”

The past week has been robust and engaging, as ACTIVATE! Took to rural communities to engage with the youth and to journey the “Road Less Travelled” , through the #ActivateImbizo Project-an initiative of the ACTIVATE! Network Connect Team.

Under the umbrella theme, ‘Democracy in Action’, activators are facilitating these Imbizos in four provinces: KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), Eastern Cape, Free-State and the North West Province. The first dialogue was on HIV prevention, management and control-Access to healthcare, and it took place at the As-Salaam Institute in Ugu district.

According to Health-E, Ugu is one of the districts with the highest HIV prevalence in the province, with 44 percent of pregnant women living with HIV, followed by eThekwini, each with an antenatal HIV prevalence rate of about 40 percent.

Although As-Salaam Institute is a conservative Muslim community, the students were able to engage and discuss the myths and challenges circulating in their community and how that affects the response they get from healthcare workers when they seek HIV-related services.

One of the interesting aspects of this dialogue was the fact that the participants generally knew what the facts were i.e. how a person gets infected, how to prevent getting infected etc, and yet with all the knowledge and strides to curb the virus spread in the province, it is still the highest.

Could this be due to socially oppressive systems fuelled by patriarchy, religion and culture? Or could it be because people are generally ‘AIDS-fatigued’ where they know and have heard so much about HIV/AIDS but do not necessarily practice? That is still a mystery.

The second Imbizo was addressing Abortion Stigma, and it took place at the Nelson Mandela Museum in Qunu. This was very interesting as the panellists were not in agreeing terms. Patriarchy unfolded as panellist Pikolomzi, who is a pastor in the Eastern Cape, was telling young women that “no matter how much you learn about abortion, it will lessen your chance of having children in the future and your breasts will look like flip flops”. This triggered much anger from health activists in the hall as they were not pleased by his comments and reprimanded him for misleading young women by giving false information. The fact he objectified a woman’s body to point out “flaws” that may be due to abortion perpetuates a culture of misogyny, making women even more vulnerable and ashamed of their own being.

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