• Saturday, August 2, 2014
  • A program of IPS Inter Press Service supported by the Dutch MDG3 Fund

    No longer invisible: caregivers speak out

    04 Sep 2009


    Guest blogger: Glenda Muzenda, Care Work Manager at Gender and Media Southern Africa (GEMSA)

    I just attended the Grassroots Women’s International Academy on Home Based Care in Johannesburg, South Africa.

    It was a mixed bag of fun meeting women from all walks and works of life from Kenya, Cameroon, Uganda, Malawi, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Zambia, Ghana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa.

    Caregiving in Mozambique. Photo: Janine Morna

    Caregiving in Mozambique. Photo: Janine Morna

    The Huairou Commission and the Land Access Movement of South Africa brought us together to share experiences of home-based care.

    It is fascinating how in Malawi the care givers alliance has moved forward. Victoria Kalomba, of the Malawi Group of Women Living with HIV and AIDS told us that the ministry of health and social development had spearheaded a campaign to raise awareness about people infected and affected by HIV.

    The process had the ministry informing the support groups of individuals who had tested positive after visiting clinics so they could be reached and helped.

    I am worried about this way of outing positive people even in the aim of  mobilizing support groups. I feel that it is a human right violation to have to give information of someone’s HIV status.

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    Timeless wisdom: traditional healing in Africa

    31 Aug 2009


    Tall, thin and dreadlocked, Kwame Sousa is an artist, a documentary film producer, and an avid soccer player. Whenever he sprains a muscle, he visits his granny or the neighbourhood traditional healer for a rub with a homemade herbal potion.

    “It smells strongly of wine gone vinegary but it works ,” he says.

    The forest is their pharmacy. Photo: M. Sayagues

    The forest is their pharmacy. Photo: M. Sayagues

    Last year, when he was scratching madly with chickenpox, his  granny’s ointment of coconut oil and leaves relieved the itchiness.

    When his friend  Geane Castro  feels a cold coming, his grandmother makes him a hot bath with water infused with leaves and bark, then a special tea with plants she gathers in the forest. Presto, he recovers.

    I meet them at Teia D’Arte, an art gallery in Sao Tome, the capital of the tiny two-island nation of Sao Tome and Principe, off the coast of Gabon.

    With a rich biodiversity of 600 botanical species and 132 endemic plants, the islands’ rainforest is a well-stocked pharmacy for herbalists.

    Their knowledge is captured in a decade-long  ethno-pharmacological study published last year. Researchers worked with 40 traditional healers, midwives and grandmothers to identify and classify 325 medicinal plants, note 1,000 recipes and test 25 plants in the lab. Many look promising for developing new medicines. More »

    Runner Caster Semenya: gender, sex and discrimination

    26 Aug 2009


    Open letter by South African gender activists

    Courtesy of Zapiro, Mail & Guardian

    Courtesy of Zapiro, Mail & Guardian

    Some of those championing Caster Semenya’s cause accuse those wanting to sex-test Caster of imperialism and racism (as well as sexism). Others plead to wait before reaching a verdict, arguing that the realities of sex testing are enormously complex

    Firstly to address the issue of terminology, over which there seems to be confusion. Gender is the dominant society’s views on how women and men should look, behave, what roles they should play in society, how they should perform and frequently what rewards they receive – hence gender inequity. This has usually led to lower status and discrimination against girls/women but has increasingly been seen as limiting the options and potentially harming boys/men too.

    Gender is not a politically correct term for sex. Sex testing would be just that – establishing whether a person is biologically female or male. So gender testing is not the term that should be used this case, but sex testing. More »

    Soccer, xenophobia and masculinities

    13 Jul 2009


    go-home-or-die-psp When friends ask me about the World Soccer Cup in South Africa in June 2010, I say there is only one if, but a big if.

    What if another wave of xenophobic violence unfurled, like the one that shook South Africa to the core a year ago? It left 50 dead and about 150,000 displaced, terrified and destitute immigrants – black, African and foreign. (Click here to see a slideshow)

    The army stepped in and the violence subsided. But xenophobia still simmers. In June, IPS reported on yet more murders of Somalis in the Western Cape province. More »

    Women, justice and memory

    29 Jun 2009


    Remembering in Rwanda. Courtesy Anne Aghion

    Remembering in Rwanda. Courtesy Anne Aghion

    What happens when the relatives of the murdered confront their murderers? What happens if they have to live with the murderers?

    This is the theme of “My neighbour, my killer”, a film about Rwanda’s extraordinary attempt at reconciliation. This documentary by Anne Aghion, which premiered in New York two weeks ago at the Human Rights Watch film festival, follows a gacaca or community court during five years.

    Rwanda has set up some 12, 000 gacaca where killers face the relatives of those they killed during the genocide in 1994. (Read an interview with Aghion here).

    More »