Gender inequality contributes to the spread of HIV. According to the United Nations, lack of gender equality can increase the rates of infection and reduce the ability of women and girls to properly cope and protect themselves against the epidemic. Because of gender inequality, women often face barriers in their ability to negotiate for safer sex with men. Living with the stigma of HIV and exclusion that often results from their diagnosis, is further exacerbated by their lack of rights as women.
Watch one of our business financial seminars with the women
In Kisumu, Kenya where our Willow Tree Roots Kenya project is located HIV rates are over 18%, making it the second highest HIV prevalence in the country. Our Women’s Socioeconomic Empowerment Project endeavors to reduce the prevalence of HIV and the stigma that surrounds it by economically empowering effected women into entrepreneurship.
Before joining our Willow Tree Roots Kenya project, many of the women faced stigma and isolation in their community while living with a positive HIV diagnosis. Most of the women now feel comfortable talking freely about their status and freely share their stories amongst themselves. By coming together, the women have developed a sense of belonging and place in society and their community. The women have learned to appreciate themselves and have the confidence to know that they can learn the skills they need to become empowered entrepreneurs. Though our project, the women feel
like they have a place in their community as business women and HIV/AIDS educators.
Our recently conducted business financials seminar enabled the women to look beyond their present circumstance and plan for their successful financial futures. They learned how to price their products, calculate profits and invest back into their business. This knowledge has increased their motivation and determination for success. The business knowledge the women have gained from our program has brought them respect in their communities. They can financially contribute to their households and this has brought them greater respect in the home.
With these powerful entrepreneurial skills gained from our program the women can affect change in the reduction of the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Through their combined voices, the women in our Willow Tree Roots Kenya project have declared that:
“WOMEN MUST RISE UP AND SLOWLY BLOSSOM DEVELOPING INTO VALUABLE AND RESPECTED AGENTS OF ECONOMIC CHANGE GLOBALLY.WE HAVE THE POTENTIAL AND TOGETHER WE CAN WORK THIS OUT”