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Established in 2002, the AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA) is a regional partnership of 117 civil society organisations (CSOs)1 working together in 18 countries2 to promote a human rights approach to HIV, AIDS and tuberculosis (TB) through capacity building and advocacy. ARASA partners comprise a diverse mix of more and less well-established organisations from a diverse mix of constituencies.
The basis of the partnership is solidarity and shared responsibility for advancing social justice in the region, with a focus on the realisation of the right to health. Since its inception, ARASA has remained the only partnership of organisations that have come together to collectively address human rights responses to HIV and TB in southern and east Africa.
In 2016, the partnership grew from 106 partners at the beginning of the year, to 117 partners at the end of December.
1. See http://bit.ly/2oVpWhl for a list of ARASA partners.
2. Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe
It gives me great pleasure to share with you, on behalf of the ARASA team, our Annual Report for 2016. I am always overwhelmed, when it comes to putting together our report on activities for the year, by the amount of work that we manage to get done. This is only possible as a result of the commitment and resolve of ARASA partners to join together and work cohesively towards ensuring the right to health for all in southern and east Africa. It is also a tribute to the small but dynamic ARASA team whose collective wealth of skills, experience and expertise enables us to deliver a consistently high standard of work and to our donors who support our work.
Change towards the achievement of ARASA’s overall objective of ensuring that a 'legal, policy and social environment exists in southern and east Africa in which people living with HIV and TB and key populations access acceptable, affordable and quality SRHR, HIV and TB prevention, treatment and care services’, is slow, incremental and notoriously difficult to measure within the space of a few months or even years. Change, slow though it may be, is however happening. We are increasingly seeing the impact of our work in contributing towards the achievement of this objective and I am proud to be able to share with you, through this report, some highlights of our achievements in 2016.
The environment in which ARASA and its partners work is often a difficult one. 2016 saw shrinking political space for civil society in southern and east Africa. Several countries have repressed and heavily constrained civic space in which individuals and civil society organisations who criticise power holders risk surveillance, harassment, intimidation, imprisonment, injury and even death.
Other countries in which ARASA works frequently use laws that require the registration of NGOs to harass organisations working on human rights and health, particularly in relation to marginalised groups such as sex workers, people who use drugs, transgender people and men who have sex with men. The government of Tanzania has threatened, since July 2016, to de-register organisations ‘promoting homosexuality’ by distributing lubricants for HIV prevention. Threats of de-registration have been targeted at key populations organisations and several have, as a result, been forced to halt the implementation of HIV prevention programming for men who have sex with men.
Political developments in Europe and the United States have highlighted the rise of an increasingly conservative and nationalist far-right, which constitutes a threat to Overseas Development Aid and is increasingly limiting the ability of human rights organisations to promote the protection of human rights globally. This is exacerbating the already challenging funding and political landscape in which HIV and TB programmes operate.
We need to push back. Strong, adaptable, independent and active civil society is needed in the region to protect human rights, ensure safe space for citizens, and demand accountability of governments and influence decisions that affect their lives and vulnerability to HIV and TB. ARASA plays a significant role in supporting partnerships, coalition building and peer-to-peer learning to respond to the closing space for civil society in in the region. We will, with your support, continue to do so and we hope you will continue to walk with us on this journey.
ARASA’s total income in 2016 was N$ 35,111,034 and total expenditure was N$ 38,614,847 which resulted in a deficit of N$ 3,503,813 but this has been offset by the N$ 12,609,027 carried forward from 2015. An external audit for the 2016 financial year was completed in February 2017 by Stier Vente Associates, for which ARASA received an unqualified audit report.
As illustrated by the graph above, the bulk of the funds was spent on advocacy interventions, which included support provided to partners in focus countries to implement advocacy activities related to advocacy priorities identified by partners during the Annual Partnership Forum (APF).
1. Civil society on national level advocates for acceptable, accessible, affordable and quality SRHR, HIV and TB care and support services for people living with HIV and TB and key populations;
Intermediary Outcome: ARASA partner CSOs have improved capacity to advocate and strengthen capacities of other CSOs;
2. Service providers have increased capacity to provide acceptable, accessible, affordable and quality SRHR, HIV and TB care and support services for people living with HIV and TB and key populations;
3. Potential influencers engage in a legal, policy and social change that promotes access to acceptable, affordable, quality health services, particularly for people living with HIV and TB and key populations; and
4. Policy makers (national, regional and international) enact laws and policies, or engage in law and policy reform, that enables a human rights-based response to SRHR, HIV and TB, and supports access to acceptable, accessible, affordable, quality health services.
Change towards the achievement of ARASA’s overall objective of ensuring that ‘a legal, policy and social environment exists in southern and east Africa (18 countries) in which people living with HIV and TB and key populations access acceptable, affordable and quality SRHR, HIV and TB prevention, treatment and care services’, is slow, incremental and not easy to measure within the space of a few months or even years. We have however been able to track clear results at the outcome level, which indicate that we are proceeding steadily towards this objective.
Through a series of capacity strengthening interventions, which include a regional Training of Trainers (ToT) Programme, online short-courses and a Partner-exchange Internship Programme, ARASA contributed to ensuring that ARASA partners and other CSOs have improved capacity to advocate for acceptable, accessible, affordable and quality SRHR, HIV and TB care and support services for people living with HIV and TB and key populations as well as to strengthen capacities of other CSOs.
At the outset of the first ToT workshop, hosted in February, 80% of the participants indicated that they had minimal information on the key topics that where covered during the training, whereas after the training, all participants reported an improvement in knowledge on the key topics covered during the training. More than 90% of the participants of this workshop also reported feeling prepared to train others on the topics covered during the training workshop.
Based on assessments conducted with our Training of Trainers (ToT) programme participants at the beginning and end of the year, their position on specific advocacy issues changed from 84.37% choosing the appropriate response before participating in the ToT programme to 90.3% choosing the appropriate response after participating in the programme. The number of times participants chose the option of no position during the initial assessment (during the first workshop) reduced from 10.5% to 5.7%, which suggests that the majority of these had moved from no position during the initial assessment to the appropriate response during the final assessment.
“We learned a lot about people who use drugs and how to engage in advocacy for safe drug use. In fact, our organisation is about to launch a project to provide them with syringes and we also raise awareness about HIV and testing in their community. [Before I participated in the ToT] it was difficult to think about implementing such a project because of our government’s policy, which prohibits the use of drugs. We are now more equipped to scale up our advocacy work and to build a stronger movement from the local level up. We are also more involved in national CSO networks so that we can maximise our effectiveness and efficiency in delivering our work”.
Lalaina Razafimanantsoa (Gasy Youth Up) and Andrianadison Rafalimanana (PSI), Madagascar
"The ARASA ToT has indeed shaped my career for the better and I can’t stress how important this training is. One of the greatest impacts of the ARASA 2016 ToT was the fact that I was chosen by the director [of our organisation] to analyse the International HIV/AIDS Alliance gender framework to see if it speaks to the issues that are affecting women in our region and if those issues that differ from country to country are well articulated and how exactly would this gender framework be implemented. The ARASA ToT gave me the capacity to analyse the document with an open mind as I only had to recall what the other participants from different countries said about issues affecting women in their countries".
Unami Amantle Mashumba, Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA), Botswana
Country Programmes supported in 2016 were those in Mauritius1 and Tanzania2 as well as in Zimbabwe3 (the latter of which concluded at the end of May).
CHAs and other community members marching through the city demanding for the reduction of user fees and prioritisation of health care financing and infrastructure, including viral load testing machines, by the government.
In 2016, the City Council of Mutare in Manicaland unilaterally increased the consultation fees at local clinics from US$2 to US$9, and user fees for refill of antiretroviral drugs from US$2 to US$5.
Recognising that the vast majority of people living with HIV and other community members in the city were unable to afford health care services, Community Health Advocates (CHAs) supported by Country Programme hosts Zimbabwe National Network People of living with HIV (ZNNP+) and SAfAIDS, along with other civil society organisations, spearheaded advocacy efforts calling for the reduction of consultation and user fees at local clinics run by the City Council as well as ensuring that health care financing and infrastructure, including viral load and CD4 count machines are a priority for the government.
A request for permission to march was initially declined, but following the filing of an urgent court application challenging the decision by the police by the CHAs with support from ARASA partner Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, a ruling was made in favour of the CHAs. On the day of the march, people living with HIV and other activists carried placards with key messages through the city and delivered a petition to the Provincial Affairs Minister, the Provincial Medical Director, the Provincial AIDS Coordinator and the Mutare City Council. The march was covered extensively in the media.6
Subsequently, the City Council reduced user fees from US$5 to US$3, while the consultation fees were reduced from US$9 to US$5 per consultation. While these amounts are still high, advocacy by the CHAs continues with a view to having them reduced even more.
3. Hosted by Prévention Information et Lutte contre le Sida (PILS)
4. Hosted by Community Health Education Services and Advocacy (CHESA)
5. Hosted by SAfAIDS and Zimbabwe National Network of People Living with HIV (ZNPP+)
6. Media coverage included Diamond FM, a community radio station based in the city of Mutare, the Newsday, Daily News and New ZIANA, Studio 7, a global satellite/internet radio station based in Washington DC, which broadcasts on Zimbabwe.
In 2016, as in previous years, the ARASA small grants remained a key vehicle to strengthen the technical and financial capacity of civil society organisations to monitor and analyse efforts of national governments to protect, respect and uphold human rights in the context of national responses to HIV and TB and advocate for acceptable, accessible, affordable and quality SRHR, HIV and TB care and support services for people living with HIV and TB and key populations.
ARASA provided small grants to the value of US$ 318,499 to 27 national and community-based organisations, including eight organisations led by LGBTI, people who use drugs and sex workers.
The projects implemented during this period addressed a range of issues including providing accurate information on HIV prevention and treatment, advocating for increased investment in key population groups, addressing stigma in the faith community, ensuring that HIV and TB responses are meeting the needs of everyone, and promoting and enabling legal and policy environment.
With support from the Robert Carr civil society Networks Fund, ARASA and the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC) provided a grant of US$ 55,000 to a consortium of partners, including the Centre for the Development of People (CEDEP), in Malawi to strengthen advocacy for financing for HIV and TB interventions targeted at MSM, PLHIV, sex workers, and transgender persons in Malawi.
CEDEP Director, Gift Trapence
As part of their project, the consortium in Malawi sought to highlight challenges in regard to the ability of key population organisations to be considered eligible grant implementers and access to the Global Fund funds in their countries. The advocacy included signing on to a regional letter, which cited specific examples from Malawi, where CEDEP, a well- established organisation addressing the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people (LGBTI), applied to be a Sub-Recipient for the implementation of the “Prevention programmes for men who have sex with men and transgender people” module.
Two other organisations with no proven record in implementing prevention interventions for men who have sex with men or transgender people were awarded the grant. However, following a decision by the boards of these organisations not to implement the module, the Principal Recipient opened the process to select Sub-Recipients to implement this module.
As a result of the strong advocacy by CEDEP and its partners about the ability of key population organisations to implement activities to meet the needs of their communities, which was directly supported with a grant from ARASA/ITPC, CEDEP and the Southern Africa AIDS Trust (SAT) Malawi have been awarded US$ 1,2 million of the country Global Fund grant for key populations interventions.
According to Gift Trapence, Director of CEDEP: “In September 2016 the Principal Recipient invited applications from civil society organisations that are currently implementing prevention programmes for men who have sex with men and transgender people to implement the MSM component of the Global Fund Joint TB and HIV programme in eight districts in Malawi."
This call for expressions of interest was made after some organisations turned down the offer to implement the MSM module. CEDEP was not selected during the previous call for expressions of interest although the organisation had the expertise to implement the programme. The call for expressions of interest was also made after the advocacy around financing of key populations organisations with the Global Fund. The advocacy around the financing made sure that there was a transparent process that could make sure that the selection of organisations to implement the MSM module is based on capacity and experience in this field.
CEDEP, in partnership with SAT Malawi, submitted a joint proposal to Action Aid, the Principal Recipient (PR). The CEDEP and SAT proposal clearly demonstrated that the proposed activities were in line with CEDEP’s strategic plan and within the mandate and strategic objective of the organisation. CEDEP demonstrated that it was already implementing similar projects including the Linkages project funded by FHI 360 and that the proposed interventions for the Global Fund funded programme were not new to the organisation. Compared to the organisations who previously turned down the offer as well as all the new applicants, CEDEP proved that the organisation had the human resource and financial management capacity as well as experience in managing and implementing the MSM programme. CEDEP was selected to be a sub- sub recipient while SAT was chosen as a sub recipient.
CEDEP and SAT’s proposal was funded because of the support from ARASA regarding the advocacy to the Global Fund to allow key populations organisations to access funding. The advocacy led to the PR developing clear selection criteria for those organisations applying to implement MSM programming, including having a selection panel with expertise in HIV, key populations and specifically working with MSM and transgender people in Malawi.
ARASA is the only regional organisation that is structured in the form of a partnership of country-based civil society organisations working together to promote human rights and health in the context of HIV and TB in southern and east Africa.
From 27 to 28 April 2016, 113 representatives of ARASA partner organisations convened in Johannesburg, South Africa for the 2016 ARASA Annual Partnership Forum (APF). The meeting provided a platform for the staff and trustees of ARASA to update partners on the achievements of the organisation since the previous APF and for partners to network, share lessons learned and explore ways to address HIV and TB-related human rights challenges facing their countries. ARASA staff reported on the activities of the organisation, including the financials and programmatic progress achieved in 2015. The ARASA partners agreed on the following advocacy priorities for ARASA to focus on during the year: stigma and discrimination; TB, HIV and human rights in prisons; enabling policy and legal environments and the needs of migrants in the context of HIV and TB.
During a discussion on what it means to be an ARASA partner, representatives of partner organisations shared the following:
“ARASA is an inclusive network and partnership and is a true human rights organisation. It is unique in its symbiotic relationship. The partnership is based on equality, even though some people [and organisations] have more experience: we are a true family where we learn from each other. I see ARASA as a think tank and the secretariat is capable. Being a partner allows us to contribute to achieving collective goals, so that as a region we can make a concerted impact.”
“As an ARASA partner, we have benefitted enormously, as we tap into the expertise of the ARASA secretariat often. Our capacity has also been strengthened through the online and face-to-face training, so that we are now a force to be reckoned with nationally. ARASA has also allowed us to tap into a regional structure that as a national organisation we would not be able to access, such as SADC, the African Union and other structures."
“We have gained a lot in terms of visibility of our work and credibility of our organisation from being an ARASA partner. ARASA has been providing a platform where we can share experiences, we have received a number of opportunities, as well as a space for networking."
On 28 April, the Malawi Network of Religious Leaders living with and personally affected by HIV and AIDS (MANERELA+) was awarded the 2016 ARASA HIV, TB and Human Rights award, accompanied by a grant of US$ 10,000 at a ceremony held at the conclusion of the APF. The award was established in 2007 to recognise and support ARASA partner organisations who undertake ground-breaking work to protect human rights, often in extremely challenging political climates.
Bruce Tushabe, former Acting Executive Director of MANERELA+ and Reverend Mataka, vice-chair of the MANERELA+ Board received the 2016 ARASA HIV, TB and Human Rights Award from Michaela Clayton, Director of ARASA.
Compared to 2015 when no specific activities targeting service providers were implemented, ARASA significantly increased its outreach to service providers such as law enforcement and correctional services officials, national human rights institutions and health care providers in 2016. 122 service providers reported having acquired new skills and knowledge as a result of participation in an activity implemented by ARASA and its partners.
A regional meeting of national human rights institutions on the role of NHRIs in addressing legal and other barriers to access to HIV services for key populations was co-hosted by ARASA and the Network for African National Human Rights Institutions (NANRHI). During his closing remarks, Dr Martin Nsabirwa, Senior Manager: Executive Support at the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) stated: “This was a good convention and we have been opened up on the different issues. We talked about very difficult issues. This is work we have to carry forward in our countries. We look forward to sharing the documents with our colleagues and ensuring that we promote and protect the rights of all citizens without compromise or discrimination”.
As a result of this, the South African National Human Rights Commission and the Mozambican National Human Rights Commission both extended invitations to ARASA to provide capacity strengthening trainings on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity issues for their staff members in 2017. The training for Commissioners in South Africa was hosted in January 2017. According to Dr Nsabirwa: “I believe that my eyes were opened (during the November meeting). The meeting was powerful, especially the stories and experiences of the key populations themselves. Most of the time when we are at meetings discussing these issues, there is a lot of conflict because of colleagues’ personal belief, but this meeting was different, it was based on facts, evidence and human rights. I thought to myself that I cannot keep this knowledge to myself, I went back to the SAHRC and spoke with the head of research, I told him that we need a similar meeting for our colleagues at the Commission. We were able to mobilise about 35 colleagues to attend the workshop, which we call a seminar, held by ARASA at the SAHRC. The workshop was just as powerful, I believe that for a lot of us, our misconceptions and stereotypes regarding LGBTI persons were changed. Such meetings are needed to assist NHRIs in dealing with key population issues.”
As in previous years, ARASA continued to link partner organisations with potential influencers such as the media and religious leaders to ensure that they engage in legal, policy and social change that promotes access to acceptable, affordable, quality health services particularly for people living with HIV and TB and key populations.
In 2016, ARASA’s engagement with religious leaders focused on supporting the capacity of partners to engage the religious leaders and the faith community at the national and district levels in three countries.
In Kenya, ARASA supported the International Network of Religious Leaders living with or personally affected by HIV (INERELA+) to conduct a baseline survey with 45 religious leaders from four congregations in Kenya, which provided evidence for the need for training on HIV, TB and human rights amongst religious leaders. Human rights training, with a focus on sexuality and reduction of stigma of key populations, was conducted for 20 religious leaders. This resulted in faith leaders making a firm commitment to be agents of change and uphold the dignity and rights of people living with HIV by, amongst others, integrating human rights messages into sermons. The religious leaders developed work plans to further cascade their learning and INERELA+ referred them to other organisations and institutions where they can receive further support. A member of one congregation whose priest participated in the project shared the anecdote:“One Sunday I woke up and [decided to go] to church. [During his sermon] The priest touched on the need to support PLHIV and that by stigmatising PLHIV was a violation of human rights. After mass, I felt strong and I gained courage and decided to visit the hospital. Within time I was enrolled to be part of the care givers in the clinic. I now feel empowered and hold talks in various churches myself.”
As the winner of the 2016 ARASA HIV, TB and Human Rights Award, the Malawi Network of Religious Leaders living with and personally affected by HIV (MANERELA+) received a grant of US$ 10,000, which it used to implement a project to train 20 religious leaders as champions and advocates for increased access to sexual and reproductive health and rights services for LGBTI persons and sex workers in the Mangochi district. The religious leaders who attended the training in turn trained an additional 18 religious leaders who are members of the District Interfaith Committee. MANERELA+ also organised a dialogue between religious leaders and LGBTI persons in Mangochi to contribute to the creation of an enabling social environment for LGBTI persons in the district. During the dialogue, a young man told the gathering that he is gay, but he is also the son of a late Sheikh. After his testimony, the facilitator asked the Sheikhs how they felt, given what the Quran teaches about homosexuality. Although the Quran states that gay people should be stoned, the response from the Sheikhs was that ‘they can’t kill him because he is their son’.
In 2016, ARASA spearheaded and supported advocacy efforts, aimed at influencing HIV and TB law and policy at the regional and national levels on various thematic issues in 16 countries.7 ARASA provided financial and technical support for the implementation of advocacy interventions, thus contributing to an improved civil society role in governance, increased access to HIV, TB and SRHR services and commodities as well as the protection and promotion of the rights of women and people living with HIV.
ARASA significantly scaled up its work and support to partners in Botswana, Malawi, Kenya and Seychelles to address legal barriers through a grant through the Global Fund Regional Grant on HIV: Removing Legal Barriers administered by UNDP and implemented in collaboration with Enda Santé, the Southern Africa Litigation Centre, KELIN and UNDP.
7. Angola, Botswana, DRC, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe
In 2016, ARASA reached and engaged with significantly more members of Parliament (59), than in 2015 when ARASA laid the foundation for scaling up its engagement with Parliament through the co-hosting of two dialogues on SOGI and the criminalisation of HIV transmission, attended by 21 members of Parliament. ARASA’s collaboration with the Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum (SADC PF) in 2015 resulted in the adoption of a resolution during the 38th SADC PF Plenary Assembly in November 2015, in which SADC MPs rejected the use of HIV criminalisation as a tool for reducing HIV transmission. Building on this success achieved in 2015, the work undertaken in 2016 yielded concrete impact at the national level, including the emergence of champions amongst Speakers and members of Parliament who speak out nationally and at the regional level on the issues.
In April, ARASA collaborated with the Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum (SADC PF) to host a Speakers Colloquium8 in Mauritius attended by ten Speakers of Parliament from SADC countries. The Speakers of Parliament discussed violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity, based on Resolution 275 of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights. As a result of this discussion, sexual orientation and gender identify (SOGI) issues were included in the three-day Joint Session of SADC PF Standing Committees in May, hosted by ARASA and SADC PF in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Dr Herminie, Former Speaker of the Seychelles National Assembly
The Joint Session was hosted under the theme: “Criminalisation and Stigmatisation: Disincentives to the Realisation of Fundamental Human Rights” and was attended by 49 members of Parliament (MPs) from 14 SADC countries, newspaper editors, MPs’ support staff as well as seven resource persons from civil society and ARASA partners.
The outcomes of this meeting were tabled at the 39th Plenary Assembly Session of SADC PF, held on 3 June 2016 in Swaziland and resulted in the adoption of a resolution mandating the Secretariat of SADC PF to facilitate, through capacity building and support to national parliaments to address challenges related to criminalisation of HIV transmission; criminalisation of people who use drugs and LGBTI people; TB and Silicosis in the Mining Sector as well as intellectual property laws and access to medicines. The joint sessions received significant media coverage9 including an interview of ARASA’s Director and one of the Members of Parliament from Mauritius on SABC News.
A result of this engagement with MPs is that several MPs, including the former Speaker of Parliament of Seychelles, Honourable Dr Patrick Herminie, have emerged as champions of these issues including the decriminalisation of adult consensual same-sex sex as well as the decriminalisation of HIV transmission, exposure and/or non-disclosure. Dr Herminie was subsequently invited to deliver the keynote address at the Joint Session of the Standing Committees of SADC PF.
Also in May, the Parliament of Seychelles passed the Penal Code (Amendment) Bill, decriminalising same-sex intercourse between men in Seychelles following recommendations made in 2011, when the Penal Code was up for review at the United Nations Human Rights Council, and due to advocacy from regional and local organisations, including the work by ARASA, SADC PF and civil society in Seychelles. Until that time section 151 of the Penal Code cited a jail sentence of up to 14 years for “unnatural offences” when men had sex with men.
Dr Herminie also delivered the keynote address during the ‘Beyond Blame’ pre-conference on challenging HIV criminalisation ahead of the International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa in July 2016 where he stated that: “HIV criminalisation is a product of a rudimentary mind-set, an attitude born out of the stigma initially associated with HIV; a stigma born out of ignorance.”10
A 2016 external evaluation of the Dignity Diversity and Rights Programme, implemented by ARASA, Hivos, Positive Vibes and CoC found that LGBTI and non-LGBTI respondents highlighted the work ARASA has undertaken to bring activists together with SADC parliamentarians. A SADC PF respondent confirmed that the programme helped open dialogue spaces at a regional level at SADC PF and acknowledged that the integration of the discussion at a country level is not consistent. The respondent commented, “you see it here and there”, citing, for example, the changes in legislation in the Republic of Seychelles, where same-sex acts are no longer illegal. The respondent also indicated that knowledge sharing over the last years improved the quality of the debate around LGBTI issues at SADC PF level. Religious leaders also indicated that the SADF Parliamentary Forum has begun to engage with them as faith leaders to talk about LGBTI.
ARASA participates in first ever Partners Meeting for the Global Fund Africa Regional Grant on HIV: Removing Legal Barriers implemented by ARASA, ENDA-Sante, UNDP, KELIN and the Southern Africa Litigation Centre11.
ARASA convenes 36 participants from southern and east Africa for the first regional Training of Trainers (ToT) module of the year. In parallel a Pre-Implementation Workshop is hosted for the seven successful recipients of Small grants from the 2015 ToT cohort.
ARASA co-hosts and facilitates southern and east African as well as continental civil society consultations in preparation for the 2016 United Nations General Assembly High Level Meeting on ending AIDS.
During the Annual Partnership Forum12, ARASA partners select 1) stigma and discrimination; 2) TB, HIV and human rights in prisons; and 3) enabling policy and legal environments as well as migrants in the context of HIV and TB as advocacy priorities for ARASA in 2016.
ARASA and SADC PF convene Members of Parliament during a Joint Session of the Standing Committees of the SADC PF under the theme: “Criminalisation and Stigmatisation: Disincentives to the Realisation of Fundamental Human Rights.”
ARASA’s Director is interviewed on Al JaZeera’s “The Stream” about decriminalisation of HIV transmission, exposure and/or non-disclosure13.
ARASA serves as the Regional Community Partner on the Conference Organising Committee for the 2016 International AIDS Conference and co-hosts Human Rights and Drug User Networking Zones.
The Dignity Diversity and Rights Programme focused on HIV and Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity concludes after four years14.
ARASA and ITPC train 27 ARASA partners from Botswana and Malawi on using video for change. The participants received equipment and technical support to produce films that can be used to advocate for resources for interventions targeted at key populations.
ARASA attends 59th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, convened in Banjul, The Gambia.
Graduates of the 2016 ToT Programme receive certificates during a graduation ceremony hosted at the conclusion of the fourth ToT module.
ARASA Director co-chairs the UNAIDS Human Rights Reference Group meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.
“My highlight for 2016 was joining the ARASA team and facilitating Training of Trainers workshops on HIV, TB and human rights for participants from 18 different countries. This work resulted in increased knowledge and skills among participants, who subsequently trained 305 community members including LGBTI people, sex workers, people living with HIV, children, women, people who use drugs, prisoners, traditional leaders, policy makers, religious leaders, health workers and law enforcement officials in their countries.”
Bruce Tushabe, Regional Training and capacity strengthening Officer
“I am amazed at how after attending our ToT training programme, participants are willing to venture into new areas that would not necessary be part of their thematic areas. Not only did the training change their perceptions but they are able to change perceptions of the communities that they work with. According to one of the participants, during a training workshop in Malawi, a young man stood up and told the gathering that he is gay, but he is a son to a late Sheikh. After the testimony, the facilitator asked the Sheikhs how they feel about the testimony. The response from the Sheikh was they can’t kill him [for being gay] because he is their son.”
Soraya Matthews, Regional Grants and Capacity Strengthening Officer
“We are no longer Tripping on TRIPS and ARASA's work with members of Parliament seems to finally be paying off! It’s very exciting that a joint session of Standing Committees, which we hosted with SADC PF in May last year, resulted in the tabling of a Resolution focusing on "Harnessing the TRIPS Flexibilities to protect Access to Medicines" by the Standing Committee on Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment (TIFI) during the SADC Plenary Assembly. Recently, we have seen proof that the TRIPS-agenda is back on the agenda of most SADC parliaments. For example, in June 2016, the Ministry of Finance in Mauritius announced, in his 2017 budget speech, that the country would undertake an expedited review and amendment of Mauritius' Industrial Property Act to take into consideration the TRIPS-flexibilities by June 2017. More SADC countries, including Botswana, Malawi, Lesotho and Zimbabwe are moving in this direction.”
Lynette Mabote, Regional Programmes Lead
“Hosting the Africa Regional Capacity Strengthening Convening for National Human Rights Institutions, which has resulted in planned trainings on sexual orientation and gender identity and key population issues for the South African Human Rights Commission and the Human Rights Commission of Mozambique, as well as planned side events on SOGI and key population issues for NHRIs at the African Commission.”
Nthabiseng Mokoena, Regional Advocacy Officer
“I am really proud of the work we did to support stakeholders in Malawi and Seychelles to develop Action Plans to implement the recommendations of their Legal Environment Assessments. I am very excited to support the implementation of these Action Plans and to see the work of the Removing Legal Barriers Programme come to fruition.”
Felicita Hikuam, Deputy Director
“Hosting a workshop with journalists on sexual orientation and gender identities resulted in some individuals radically assessing their own prejudice against LGBTI people. After this, there was an increase in media reports on LGBTI rights by these journalists.”
Lesley Odendal, Communications Lead
“My highlight of 2016 was supporting key partners from South Africa and Namibia to prepare shadow reports and engage with the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights during the 58th Ordinary Session. The shadow reports raised key questions on key population issues, which were raised with country delegations by the Commissioners during the session, leading to face-to-face engagement and willingness from country delegations to engage further with representatives from key population organisations after the session.”
HeJin Kim, Regional Key Populations Programme Officer
ARASA’s advocacy efforts and work to strengthen the capacity of civil society are supported by the development and sharing of resource materials. To this end, ARASA has developed numerous resources during the period under review. ARASA partners consistently express an appreciation for ARASA’s publications.
Identifying Injustice: Laws and Policy on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and HIV in Southern Africa.
Issue Brief: Differentiated Models of Delivering HIV Care: Perspectives from people living with HIV and health care workers in 7 African countries
Poster: Differentiated Models of Delivering HIV Care: Perspectives from people living with HIV and health care workers in 7 African countries
Boosting parliamentary advocacy for the removal of health related criminal laws, South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) News,Watch the video
Boosting parliamentary advocacy for the removal of health related criminal laws, South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) News,Read the article
Speaker Herminie calls on SADC parliamentarians to help contain the epidemic of bad laws affecting public health in the region, The Nation, Seychelles,Read the article
Namibia: TB in Mines Remains a Health Disaster – ARASA, AllAfrica.com,Read the article
SADC MPs discuss drug use, HIV prevention, Zambia Daily MailRead the article
Criminalising HIV, Al JaZeera, The Stream,Watch the video
Activists call on leaders to protect human rights, Daily News, TanzaniaRead the article
Malawi human rights groups laud Zomba high court: Sex workers case, Maravi Post, MalawiRead the article
Towards removing legal barriers for HIV and AIDS, Seychelles NationsRead the article
SA joins the global fight to stop unnecessary genital surgery on intersex babies, Mail & GuardianRead the article
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