Activist, writer, Founder of The Red Pump Project
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Earlier this year, a message came through from The Red Pump Project’s website. It was from a woman who was married with five kids. She had just found out that she was HIV-positive, and she hadn’t told anyone. In moments like those, I understand the purpose of my organization, The Red Pump Project, in a tangible way. We are the safe space and the haven, and our work tells women everywhere that we are with them as they are affected by this epidemic.
According to UNAIDS, there are almost 37 million people living with HIV around the world, and 2 million became newly-infected in 2014. That number sounds huge but what is more important are the people and the stories behind it. Their stories, their struggles and their triumphs are just as important as that large number. During World AIDS Day, where we honor those living with HIV and remember those who are no longer with us, we must also remain optimistic that we can beat this epidemic.
I came to care deeply about this topic is when I was in college. I met someone who had 20 cousins who were orphans because they lost their parents to AIDS-related complications. Those cousins were all living with her grandmother. It placed a face on the numbers I had heard, and I was gripped by a desire to care more, pay more attention and do what I can. That is why I am committed to being a part of this fight, and to lift up the women who are also in it.
We must address the stigma because people are suffering in silence. Our job is to start the conversation to help women by educating them on the facts, encouraging them to get tested and having sex that is safe. We need to remove barriers that prevent any access to contraceptives, and we have got to remove the taboo that comes with being sexual beings.
Today (and everyday), I am rocking some powerful red shoes with women everywhere to say “I am with you.” When women from South Africa, France, Barbados join us to do the same, it is because they recognize that this is not a personal problem but a global issue, and if HIV affects one of us, it affects all of us.
Every girl has a vision for her future and the world she lives in. In honor of International Day of theGirl, ONE Girls and Women is launching 31 girls in 31 days to share these hopes and dreams.
Click on the girl of the day's photo to read about her hopes for girls around the world.
Check ONE Girls and Women each day for #31hopes from girls, for girls around the world.
Be the Change
There’s no doubt that the world has made a lot of progress in the last several years, but for girls and women, there’s still work to do. Check out our great partners below who are doing important work on this issue.
6 out of 10
adults living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa are women
of cases where HIV transmits from mothers to their children can now be prevented
people died from AIDS in 2012
See who's making a difference
UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, is an innovative partnership that leads and inspires the world in achieving...
(RED) was founded in 2006 by Bono and Bobby Shriver to engage businesses and people in the fight against AIDS. ...
The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing pediatric HIV infection and eliminating pediatric...
#ONEderWoman of the Week: Sitawa Wafula
Sitawa is a blogger and activist tackling a highly stigmatized issue in her home country of Kenya: mental health. After being diagnosed with epilepsy and bipolar disorder as a teenager, she found it extremely difficult to manage her conditions due to the lack of resources. She decided to launch a blog where she shared her story of surviving sexual assault and experiences about living with mental health disorders.
After her blog gained a massive following, Sitawa launched a free SMS mental health help line to provide information and support for people living with mental health conditions in Kenya. This eventually evolved into My Mind, My Funk, a social enterprise consisting of counseling services, advocacy, and education forums on mental health awareness. She now sits on Kenya’s Mental Health Policy Review Committee and serves as Assistant Secretary in the National Epilepsy Coordination Committee.
Nominate Your Own #ONEderWoman
Mark International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women by learning about Safecity, an online platform that encourages anonymous reporting of sexual violence, both to collect data, and to give women a space to be heard.
Today alone, women and girls in Sub-Saharan Africa will waste 21 million hours fetching water for their families. However, when a clean water access point comes to a community, those women are given the most wonderful gift–the gift of time.
As more Africans move out of poverty, job creation is the necessary next step and having bright young women at the helm providing employment is a way of directly addressing and eradicating the adverse effects poverty has on women!
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