Magaya School Children, 2009
23 February 2011
Creating a Supportive and Enabling Learning Environment for Children, especially Girls Living with HIV in Fragile Settings
Rozaria Memorial Trust in partnership with Isis-WICCE convened a consultation on creating a supportive and enabling learning environment for womchildren living with HIV and especially in fragile settings, on 22 February 2011, on the margins of the 55th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. Over 60 participants attended from more than 15 countries, shared experiences, explored options and generated the following recommendations:
- The UN Commission on the Status of Women must include specific commitments and content on access to education and training for women and girls living with HIV through investing in supportive and enabling environment free of stigma an discrimination.
- The right to education for children and especially girls living with HIV in extreme resource poor communities and fragile contexts must not be compromised by the competing and urgent needs like access to health and nutritions. Government must take special measures to prioritise support and special initiatives for access to training and learning for women and girls living with HIV.
- Rights based approaches must be adopted to ensure that the interdependance of right to education; health, nutrition and protection are integrated in the decision of programmes and initiatives for women and girls living with HIV and particularly in conflict countries.
- A stable and empowering economic, social, political and security environment is critical to accelerating women and girls’ access to education and training as empowerment tools, and therefore peace building and democratic governance is an important aspect of creating an enabling environment.
- New methods of learning and sharing for women and girls experiencing sexual violence and abuse, and those living with HIV in crisis countries must have strong components of listening, trauma healing and psycho-social support.
The workshop recognised that the family, the school and the community are three important settings in which children learn, grow and are enabled for quality education and training. With a special focus on children living with HIV, the following were the main recommendations:
- Family environment for the children living with HIV must be loving, supportive and accepting.
- Education for children must be prioritised with the family, and the care-givers who are most women, must be equipped with skills for managing disclosure of HIV status of a child with the education officials.
- Families must prioritised nutrition and good diet as an important to enabling children living with HIV to have strong bodies for the medicine and for the routine of school and play.
- Care-givers must be equipped with social skills for counselling and sexuality education to adolescents and young people. Families must be safe spaces for HIV positive young people to seek information on sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Schools/Places of Learning
- Schools and learning centres/institutions must be safe places, of trust, respect and free of violence, stigma and discrimination especially for children living with HIV.
- Teachers and school counsellors must continue to be trained, to ensure that they demystify the HIV virus; contribute to prevention and are able to provide personal support and accompaniment to children living with HIV.
- Teachers, School administrators and others in position of trust with children must be equipped to handle confidential information related to HIV status of the children.
- Comprehensive sexuality and age appropriate sexuality education must be introduced in schools in order to equip teachers and children with critical information that empowers young people around issues of prevention, care and support.
- Special single gender clubs, like girl spaces are encouraged and recommended as ways of creating safe spaces for young people to dialogue around sensitive and personal issues.
- All communities must consider themselves either affected or infected and therefore continue to take collective action for HIV prevention, care and support including specially attention to the learning and training needs for children and especially girls living with HIV who are of school going age.
- Communities must actively contribute to reducing stigma and discrimination. This in itself is role modelling and positive learning for all members of the community who will learn and internalise respect for rights of all including people living with HIV.
- Communities must explore, understand and support the learning, education and training needs of women and girls, as a conscious way of empowerment and reduction of gender inequalities. Community actions plans for learning are possible tools.
- Women and girls must take leadership positions in the education health or nutrition committees at all levels and therefore contribute to shaping the priorities.
- Its crucial to engage with faith communities; religious and cultural leaders, since some of the norms on girls access to education, training and learning either facilitate or are a barriers.
The workshop agreed that this statement will be shared at government at the CSW, Ecumenical Women at the UN; Global Coalition on Women and AIDS and the various regional and thematic caucuses, organisations and networks.
About Rozaria Memorial Trust
RMT supports initiatives that promote education, health and entrepreneurship for women and children in resource-poor communities Based in Zimbabwe,. RMT was established in 2007 in memory of the late Mbuya Rozaria Dizha, a community woman leader whose life embodied the principles of caring, sharing and innovation
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