Listening. And Then Listening Some More.

Adwoa Afreh (Twitter: @Afresh_handle); ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission Alumni – Southern Africa

Earlier this week, I arrived back in South Africa, a familiar place, a humbling place and forever a teaching place. Being in this space for the 21st International AIDS Conference is strengthening. The truth telling that I have witnessed has been the highlight of my time here. I applaud this conference for creating spaces for various organizations and movements to stand in their truth and call upon more allies to stand in solidarity with them. During my time here, many panelists and speakers have advocated for vulnerable and stigmatized groups like sex workers, young children, LGBTQI, gender based violence victims etc., to be invited at the conversation table regarding the eradication of HIV.

In these past days I’ve been spending time listening and listening and listening some more to sex workers, interfaith leaders, pharmaceutical representatives, activists, and conference goers. It seems like this 2030 goal is what most people have been speaking of the most. The goal being ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic by the year 2030. Realistic? Possibly. Is the work going to be difficult? Most definitely. Nonetheless, I will be honest and say that I have a few doubts about that goal date.

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He for She

he for she

For the 58th time The United Nations hosted one of its largest annual events, the Commission on the Status of Women. 5000+ feminists, womanists, mothers, daughters, and sisters, from all over the world gathered in solidarity to uplift critical issues regarding women and girl’s rights. And then there was me…a he.

As a male attendee I found myself in a unique position, and I had a few questions: What was my role at CSW? Moreover, what is my role as a man in the fight for women and girl’s rights? Do men even have a role? One week after the start of the 58th Commission on the Status of Women, I now have a few answers to accompany those questions, following careful thought and reflection.

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