World AIDS Day
HIV/AIDS Prevention Among Women in Rural Ethiopia
When it comes to talking about HIV/AIDS in rural Ethiopian communities, one of the major difficulties is that most women will not talk about the problem willingly, out of shyness, and the fear of isolation and discrimination if it is known they, or their partner is HIV positive. But one exceptional woman is changing that.
In remote areas of Africa, how do you get the message out about HIV/AIDS prevention?
In rural Ethiopia, where the majority of livelihoods depend on agriculture, members of farming cooperatives are being trained as peer educators. They in turn teach other farm workers and their community about HIV/AIDS.
In a country where women make up nearly 60 per cent of the 890 000 adults infected with HIV, peer educator Shibre is making a difference.
Shibre Hirphe, Farmer and Peer Educator
Many women are ashamed of talking about HIV/AIDS because of the cultural constraint. We teach them about condoms and how to use them, but the fact that it is related to sexual intercourse, embarrasses them.
When she’s not working in the corn fields or looking after her large family, 35-year old Shibre talks to farm workers and at traditional and social gatherings.
Shibre’s confident approach and the fact that she is a trusted member of the community has helped get the HIV/AIDS message across.
Asfaw Temesgen, Head, East Wallagga Zone Cooperative Promotion Office
Right after she took the training and started educating her family and people in the area, it became a common practice for everyone to discuss it. Now it has even reached a stage where people are voluntarily going to counselling and taking HIV/AIDS tests.
Shibre is one of over 400 peer educators from agricultural cooperatives. Their training is part of a project run by the International Labour Organization with support from the Italian government. By communicating HIV/AIDS prevention through the workplace, the message is spreading to whole communities. In just three years the peer educators have educated 450 000 people about the disease.
Lelissa Chalchissa, National Project Coordinator, ILO Addis Ababa
What makes this project unique is the fact that it focuses on the farmers and even more specifically on the Agricultural Cooperatives over the last three years, give unions have been established and hold such cooperatives as the Chari Agricultural Cooperative. This project not only reaches the cooperative members but also all those that are in the surrounding area.
With committed people like Shibre spreading the message, even isolated communities like hers have the know-how to stop the threat of HIV/AIDS.