Monday, August 27, 2007

Empowering Women with HIV

In many affected countries, women with HIV are particularly prone to the detrimental economic and social effects of the debilitating disease. But as Mr. Mechai Viravaidya, Founder and Chairman of Thailand’s Population and Community Development Association (PDA), says of combating the disease:

We all must think out of the box.
It is with such innovation that UNDP and PDA have partnered to launch a “Women and Wealth Project (WWP)” in Cambodia, China and India. The project allows women living with HIV to become entrepreneurs in their own right, with not only technical and marketing support from PDA, UNDP, international agencies and the private sector, but also business management training. The women work together and are empowered to develop their own small social enterprises, in an effort to restore self-confidence and dignity to an often negatively-stigmatized disease. It also provides the women with sustainable economic stability and a sustainable socially-focused business.
When each business is generating sufficient revenue, the net profits will be pooled into initiating a micro-credit program specifically designed for people living with HIV and based on PDA’s “Positive Partnership Project (PPP)."
Ms. Caitlin Wiesen, Regional HIV/AIDS Team Leader and Programme Coordinator of UNDP Regional HIV and Development Programme, concludes:
In a rapidly feminizing epidemic, the socio-economic independence of women is essential – it enables women to cope with the devastating impact of the epidemic on their family life and sources of livelihood. Smart skills and regular incomes can reduce situations of HIV-vulnerability and helps positive women live with dignity and security.