Celebrate Solutions: Addressing Gender-Based Violence to Decrease HIV rates in Uganda

By: Yousra Yusuf, Women Deliver

Gender-based violence (GBV) contributes significantly to HIV prevalence in the world, specifically in HIV endemic countries in sub-Saharan Africa. SASA!, a program run by Raising Voices, is a community mobilization program based in Uganda that works to raise community awareness of GBV, and in turn reduce rates of HIV.

GBV, also referred to as intimate partner violence, domestic violence, sexual violence or rape, includes non-sexual violence and can be committed by either strangers or relatives on women. Around the world, GBV is notoriously prevalent—1 in 3 women have been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in their lifetime. In Africa, the rates of gender-based physical violence ranged from 30% in Malawi, Rwanda and Zimbabwe to as high as 60% in Uganda. GBV contributes to HIV rates by increasing overall HIV risk behaviors, and increasing the risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, while decreasing implementation of prevention choices, testing behavior and condom use.

SASA! means “now” in Kiswahili. This name signifies there is no better time to address violence against women than the present. It uses four strategies, namely local activism, media and advocacy, communication materials, and training to reach a variety of people all across Uganda. SASA! engages with cultural and religious leaders, police, healthcare providers, and men, women and children from local communities to increase knowledge of GBV and challenge gender norms. It follows a community-based strategy, encouraging community members to provide solutions for GBV, instead of imposing external messages upon them.

The various strategies used in this program have proven to be successful. An annual evaluation of Raising Voices published in 2011 shows that SASA! has been instrumental in increasing awareness and action and inspiring discourse among Ugandan women about this violence. A qualitative evaluation of the program has shown decreased levels in reported physical, sexual, economic and emotional violence by both men and women. The evaluation also reported a shift in cultural perceptions of GBV and an increase in access to resources, such as the police, by women in abusive relationships.

The continued success of SASA! has resulted in Raising Voices increasing its operations by rolling-out national and regional programs based on SASA! throughout Africa. SASA! has also rolled out the Good School Toolkit which is a school-based educational campaign aimed to prevent future violence against women.

As an organization, SASA! has established itself as a beacon in decreasing GBV in Uganda and all around Africa. By continuing to change the language of violence and working on the four strategies of advocacy, capacity building, training, and communication, SASA! can work to help decrease rates of HIV and violence-related HIV prevalence in Africa.

To read more about SASA!, click here

Flickr photo via IICD.

Entry Comments

    • Dec 29
    • .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    its a great thing to celebrate solutions for the world most human rights violation.

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