“Unheard Voices”: Radio and Digital Campaign Launches Across Southern Africa
HARARE, ZIMBABWE, 23 MAY 2018. A heart-warming radio and digital campaign, “Unheard Voices”, launched today on radio stations across six Southern African countries (Botswana, eSwatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa) to share real-life stories of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and sex workers across the region. The campaign features stories of how individuals in these key population groups have become accepted for who they are over time and aims to inspire greater human kindness and inclusion. These never-heard-before human stories show how for every act of intolerance, there is an act of compassion and acceptance.
“The lady next door knew nothing about my sexual orientation, or so I thought. The entire community avoided me but she had a warm greeting and a smile for me every day. I always felt good, safe and welcomed to walk pass her house. I met her again some years after relocating to a different city, and was so happy to respond with a smile, ‘she’s fine’, when she asked, ‘how is your partner’, said a lesbian from Malawi.
“I have joined a support group in my area and l am a peer educator and an advocacy officer in our district. I teach other HIV-positive youth prevention, care and support, and when l go to the clinic they treat me as an equal regardless that they see me as different,” said an HIV-positive Zimbabwean transwoman.
Unheard voices is an initiative of the regional Key Population Representation, Evidence, Advocacy for Change in Health (KP-REACH) project being implemented in the eight Southern African countries – Botswana, eSwatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Funded by the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria and managed by Hivos, KP-REACH is a consortium of four key population networks – the African Men for Sexual Health and Rights, the Coalition of African Lesbians, the Southern African Trans Forum and the African Sex Workers Alliance – and three technical partners – M&C Saatchi, SAfAIDS and Positive Vibes.
“Unheard Voices is important because the fear of being stigmatized and discriminated is a key barrier to accessing vital health services, including HIV prevention and treatment, for gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender people and sex workers. We cannot end HIV as an epidemic unless we address this,” said Kate Thomson, Head, Community Rights and Gender at the Global Fund.
KP-REACH is supporting initiatives to reduce stigma and discrimination thereby reducing HIV infections and HIV-related deaths among key populations in the Southern African region through improved access to HIV prevention, testing and treatment. The project has attracted a multi-sectoral group of champions across the region who are adding their voices to advocate for inclusive services and systems.
“We are in the hard-last mile towards achieving epidemic control of HIV and AIDS and this requires targeted interventions among populations that have until now been left behind. Universal access and leaving no one behind in the HIV and AIDS response is becoming a reality,” said Dr. Albert Mulingwa, Senior Bureaucrat in the Zimbabwe Health Sector.
The Programme Director
Hivos Regional Office for Southern Africa
20 Phillips Avenue, Belgravia
P.O. Box 2227, Harare, Zimbabwe
Tel: +263 (0) 4 706125, 706704, 250463