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Stigma and Discrimination kills

INA (Māori, Indigenous & South Pacific) HIV & AIDS Foundation

Stigma and Discrimination kills

“Māori and Pacific women living with HIV & AIDS are dying because of stigma and discrimination,” says Marama Pala. “Recognising International Women’s Day this week was a sobering reflection for us as Māori and Pacific women living with HIV & AIDS, the fear of people knowing they have HIV is stopping them from getting the treatment and care they need.” She could well be speaking of women from Sub Saharan Africa, but Marama is talking about her experience as a New Zealand Maori.

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day, Make it Happen: Encouraging Effective Action for Advancing and Recognizing Women, envisions a world where every woman and girl can exercise her choices, such as participating in politics, getting an education, having an income, to have children or not and living in societies free from violence and discrimination.
Marama was the first Maori woman to publicly disclose her HIV status, and her bravery has resulted in her becoming a powerful advocate for Maori and marginalized people. This week she will be attending the Commission on the Status of Women 59th Meeting at United Nations Headquarters in New York City.

“For change to happen for Māori and Pacific women it is critical that we must ensure the meaningful involvment of Māori and Pacific women living with HIV & AIDS within the decisions that affect our lives, ” she said. “To achieve this we must address the diverse and intersecting needs of women living with HIV & AIDS, by recognising the challenges such as stigma and discrimination, and continue to prioritize issues that impact us the most, including economic equality, sexual and reproductive rights, and violence against women. To do this we must continue to have Women and HIV & AIDS in the forefront of all mechanisms available to empower women. Māori and Pacific women continue to be hidden in the response to HIV & AIDS, as a minority, as an ethnicity, and it is a challenge raising HIV & AIDS as a health priority. However we are ‘KEY’ in raising awarenes that stigma and discrimination does kill!”

The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. A functional commission of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), it was established by Council resolution 11(II) of 21 June 1946.
The CSW is instrumental in promoting women’s rights, documenting the reality of women’s lives throughout the world, and shaping global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women.
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