I live in Lagos, Nigeria where I work as a Programme Associate for Positive Action for Treatment Access (PATA), a non governmental organisation working to ensure that every individual has access to treatment education and every HIV infected person can access quality, affordable, ethical and humane treatment which will empower them to take charge of their lives and health. At PATA I co-facilitate the only support group of young professionals living with HIV in Lagos. I also coordinate production of a weekly HIV education and treatment literacy programme called “In Moments Like These” which broadcasts on local television. With my team I conduct treatment literacy in a range of places including churches and schools.
I started working on HIV/AIDS and women issues in 2004 after testing positive for HIV in 2000 and surviving a rape experience in 1999 as an undergraduate. I started as a volunteer at a Nigerian HIV treatment centre and have since worked as a counselor providing group and individual counseling. I have been involved in providing home-based care and support services to women living with HIV. I have also participated in various print and electronic media programs advocating for the rights of women living with HIV in Nigeria. In my various talks and facilitations at training sessions for young women, I have spoken on the need for the provision of post exposure prophylaxis(PEP) and education of women on the availability of services for rape survivors. Since then I have been able to counsel women on how to take charge of their lives.
I call myself a feminist because I am of the strong belief that women should be given their rightful place in society, and not reduced to an object of ridicule. As a feminist I am motivated by stories of women who have excelled and have tried to make commendable impacts in their societies.
In the African context, we contend with unfair cultural beliefs that a woman has no say in what happens in her life. This has also made many women feel that they are powerless and that nothing can be done to salvage their situation. It is important for us to share and use our own life experiences to draw out cogent reasons why a wo- man should be given her rightful place and full respect in society.
I look forward to see women and women groups become strong advocates on gender-based violence, sexuality and reproductive health and rights of women living with HIV in Nigeria, and for women’s groups and networks to influence policies at local and national levels. This will make a big difference in my work because it will help demystify HIV/AIDS and strengthen the place of women in our communities