SWHAP partners joined the rest of the world in commemorating World AIDS Day 2016 under the theme “Hands up for HIV prevention”. Various activities were held including, community outreach to vulnerable populations, commemorative marches and provision of voluntary HIV counselling and testing for employees and communities.
The SWHAP start-up process for new programmes includes sensitisation for management and staff on the benefits of a healthy workforce that knows its HIV status. This is an important step in getting the buy-in of all parties. In Zambia, the Eltel Transmission start-up kicked off with management sensitisation on 21 October. This was followed by awareness sessions for the company’s 350 employees and subcontractors that are spread out over several sites in Zambia’s north-west province. It is anticipated that the programme will have a significant impact on the health of the employees who, due to the transient nature of their work, are often separated from partners and families for long periods of time.
In Mozambique management and employee sensitisations were held in November for Verde Azul.
Worldwide cancer is on the increase and many deaths are occurring in low-and-middle income countries where cancer is often diagnosed late. During October Scania Botswana held campaigns to raise awareness on cancers (in particular AIDS defining cancers) for men and women. In partnership with the Cancer Association of Botswana, the company ran a Movember Run Ride Campaign promoting awareness on men’s health and testicular cancer in the community. Scania also provided free screening for the community. Early detection and lifestyle changes such as eating healthy, exercising and not smoking, are important considerations in addressing cancers.
On 25 November Sandvik Mining and Construction Zimbabwe hosted a breakfast meeting to interest their value chain in a supply chain mentorship programme for 2017. Ten managers attended the meeting where Sandvik Managing Director Ian Bagshaw explained the benefits Sandvik had realised from implementing a comprehensive HIV and wellness programme. During the meeting SWHAP Southern Africa Regional Coordinator gave an overview of the SWHAP Supply Chain Programme. Freda Rebecca Gold Mine, a customer of Sandvik, outlined how the mentorship process with Sandvik had enabled them to form partnerships to address HIV resulting in reduced absenteeism and increased efficiency at the mine.
Between September and December networking and training meetings took place in the DRC, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Over 120 Peer Educators and senior managers were trained.
Peer Educator Training
Following on from the gender and diversity training facilitated by the University of South Africa (UNISA) in June, SWHAP in the DRC held training for Peer Educators in October addressing gender inequalities and discrimination in the workplace. The training enabled Peer Educators to examine cultural norms relating to gender and to question the basis of homophobia. The training also emphasized the importance of respecting human rights and freedom of choice. Peer Educators were empowered with skills to begin conversations around gender and discrimination within workplaces and communities.
In Zambia, Peer Educators from Sandvik, Atlas Copco, Scania, Stanbic, Mulonga Water, ORICA, Bayport Financial Services and SKF shared their experiences from the last quarter and discussed the negative impact the economic and post-election environment was having on both internal and community outreach programmes. They worked to identifying mitigating factors for the challenges cited.
Meetings in Zimbabwe focused on the roles and responsibilities of wellness committees and built capacity in the development of workplace HIV and wellness strategies and work plans.
Spouse Peer Educator Training
In related news on Peer Educator training, the Zambia Spousal Network Meeting took place on 9 September at Sandvik with 34 Spouse Peer Educators from Sandvik, Atlas Copco and SKF attending the training. During the meeting the spouses shared how they had used information gained during the February gender mainstreaming workshop to speak to their families and communities about gender and health related matters.
CEO Network Meeting
SWHAP, in collaboration with the Health Communications Consult Trust, conducted a CEO and senior management meeting for partners in the Copperbelt. The meeting, which took place on 5 October in Kitwe, was held under the theme “Managing Gender and Social Diversity in the Workplace”. Twenty one CEOs and senior management personnel from SKF, Sandvik, Atlas Copco, ABB, Bayport Financial Services, Orica, the National Union of Building, Engineering, and General Workers (NUBEGW) and Atlas Copco supply chain partners participated in the meeting.
Ahead of World AIDS Day, UNAIDS have released a report called “Get on the Fast Track – The life-cycle approach to HIV”. Using the dynamics of the human life cycle, the report details the importance of finding HIV prevention and treatment options “for everyone at every stage of life” (unaids.org).
One statistic highlighted by the report concerns the number of new infections amongst adults – the figure has remained virtually the same since 2010. The slow progress in reducing new infections in the 25-49 age group is attributed to lack of comprehensive HIV prevention efforts and inadequate strategies for removing structural barriers to testing and treatment.
A key challenge cited in the report is the failure of HIV programmes to engage men. Harmful gender norms are resulting in men having poorer health seeking behaviours compared to women. These gender norms put men at increased risk of HIV infection and decrease their likelihood of getting tested. Indeed, the report data shows a large gender gap in HIV status awareness with 59% of men compared to 72% of women testing and knowing their HIV results.
Workplaces in sub-Saharan Africa (where the majority of the workforce in formal employment is male) have an easily accessible population of men and a captive audience to promote HIV testing and prevention programmes. Amongst the SWHAP partners, workplace programmes do more than increase testing opportunities for men (and women), they also provide information and counselling on; general health, sexual reproductive health, couple communication, gender stereotypes that put the health of partners and children at risk, and gender based violence – showing its link to HIV transmission. Employee Support Programmes help to make treatment more accessible and support adherence to treatment regimens. This is not limited to HIV but includes other communicable and non-communicable diseases of concern to employees. Peer Education programmes empower men and women to be change agents in their communities advocating for testing and challenging risky masculinities. Over time these initiatives should translate to increased uptake of HIV testing and prevention services at workplace and community level and have a positive impact on the health of women and children.
More broadly, companies in the partnership are also involved in gender mainstreaming and diversity management to promote gender equality in the workplace. All these efforts are in collaboration with service providers, national AIDS councils and other organisations working in the HIV response.
This year SWHAP and its partners are joining UNAIDS and other actors in observing World AIDS Day through community outreach to vulnerable populations and provision of confidential HIV counselling and testing at workplaces for employees and their families.
To read the report follow the link Get on the Fast Track – The life-cycle approach to HIV
This Friday is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and the beginning of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence. Violence against women and girls is a human rights violation and an impediment in the achievement of gender equality. Gender Based Violence (GBV) has also been identified as one of the significant drivers of HIV infection, making the elimination of violence against women an important factor in addressing HIV.
The figures on GBV are alarming. According to the World Health Organization 35% of women “experience physical and/ or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence over their lifetime” (WHO 2013). Survivors of violence often experience physical, emotional and psychological trauma. The impact of this violence extends to families and communities and has a negative impact on social and economic development.
Companies in the SWHAP network proactively work with service providers to address the underlying social and cultural issues related to GBV. While most GBV perpetrators are male, the number of men who do not condone violence towards women and girls is higher. Workplace programmes are providing platforms for these men to add their voice in support against GBV and learn ways in which they can become advocates for change in their workplaces, families and communities. Gender dialogues at the workplaces are creating understanding on the far-reaching consequences of GBV and are also allowing men who have been at the receiving end to get support. During dialogues men, freely and safely explore the foundations of their sexual behaviour, harmful gender norms and the importance of men and women as partners in reproductive health. This involvement of men (and boys) is critical as they play a vital role in the process of promoting, responsible sexual behaviour and reproductive health rights, and in the elimination of violence against women. Moreover as the majority of employees in the SWHAP network are male, workplace programmes are creating more opportunities to engage men in the response to GBV.
Complementary strategies also include; the SWHAP Gender Mainstreaming and Diversity Management Strategy which seeks to effectively address gender inequalities and issues related to sexual harassment and sexual diversity in the workplace, and the employee spouse clubs which are improving the spouses (predominantly female) access to economic activities.
This year’s theme “Orange the World: Raise Money to End Violence against Women and Girls” highlights the need for greater resource mobilisation. According to UN Women “One of the major challenges to efforts to prevent and end violence against women and girls worldwide is a huge funding shortfall”. For ideas on how you can raise funds for the cause or participate in the campaign please follow the link.
Over 160 delegates from 11 countries attended the annual SWHAP Conference held in Johannesburg South Africa. The conference provided an opportunity to discuss and exchange experiences under the theme “A partnership approach for sustainable workplace programmes”. Conference participants celebrated achievements in workplace programme implementation and looked at how partnerships enhance the viability and sustainability of programmes.
The opening keynote address was made by His Excellency the former President of South Africa, Kgalema Motlanthe. In his address Mr Motlanthe commended the delegates for their “consistent determination” in addressing HIV issues. He also spoke of how The National Strategic Plan (NSP) 2017-2022 – currently under development – will emphasize partnerships between different sectors to reach more people with testing and treatment, and the ways in which partnerships contribute to sustainable responses for HIV and other diseases.
Presentations by the SWHAP Chair and Director of Operations at NIR, Sofia Birkestad Svingby and IF Metall Union Secretary, Anna Jensen Naatika set the tone for the conference describing how the partnership between IF Metall and NIR resulted in the co-founding of the SWHAP programme.
The first day of the conference revisited the SWHAP Gender Mainstreaming and Diversity Management Strategy, introduced last year, with presentations from four companies discussing the progress they had made in assessing the gaps in their workplace programmes and identifying suitable strategies to deal with the issues. All the presentations highlighted the business case for gender mainstreaming and diversity management with benefits such as; increased performance, innovation and customer and employee attraction and retention being noted. The day ended with an industrial theatre production addressing gender and sexual harassment in the workplace.
Day two of the conference started with a panel discussion on partnerships which included perspectives from SWHAP, Atlas Copco South Africa, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa and the South African National AIDS Council. Panellists discussed how the partnership approach brings value and sustainability to workplace programmes and the importance of creating strategic partnerships at external and internal levels. A practical exercise during the breakaway sessions allowed participants to begin mapping external and internal partnerships that would add value to their workplace HIV and wellness programmes.
SWHAP Achievement Award nominees showcased programmes addressing HIV and other health issues affecting employees in the workplace. Presentations from Babcock Ntuthuko, Freda Rebecca and Sandvik Tanzania highlighted comprehensive approaches to addressing HIV and ill health for both men and women in the workplace and the value companies placed in creating partnerships with employees, unions, service providers and national governments. In their presentations Sodeico Manpower, Sandvik Zambia and Scania Botswana described innovative approaches that are increasing employee engagement in programmes, reducing the impact of malaria on business operations and promoting testing and safer driving in the community, respectively.
Achievement Awards were presented at a gala dinner held on 28 October where the guest speakers were the Swedish Ambassador to South Africa Ms Cecilia Julin and motivational speaker Dr. Mbulelo Dyasi. Read more on the awards here.
The Swedish Workplace HIV and AIDS Programme represents progressive and practical thinking about how to factor in the phenomenon of HIV in the 35 workplaces of Swedish companies in South Africa and the 12 wholly owned South African companies that are key suppliers to these companies. – H.E. Kgalema Molanthe
We are stronger together. No-one can do everything, but everyone can do something and in partnership with others we can do so much more. – Sofia Birkestad Svingby, SWHAP
Partnership is the best way to be successful. – Anna Jensen Naatika, IF Metall
Share your expertise on how you are responding to HIV. You have more to offer than you think. – Dr Fareed Abdullah, South African National AIDS Council (SANAC)
The workplace in the whole social ecology is critical – through the workplace we can reach individuals, communities and new markets that can transform our society – Leon Roets, UNISA
Our partnership with SWHAP helps to build sustainable programmes in the workplace. – Christine Olivier, NUMSA
We believe that diversity management and gender mainstreaming is beyond compliance – it is a business imperative. – Gary Whalley, Babcock Ntuthuko
Congratulations to the 2016 SWHAP Achievement Award winners. The awards were presented at a gala dinner on 28 October in Johannesburg South Africa.
The winner of the Award for Most Comprehensive Workplace Programme 2016 was Babcock Ntuthuko, South Africa. Ericsson, DRC won the Award for Best Progress in Workplace Programmes and Sandvik, Zambia, won the award for Most Innovative Intervention.
Runner-up prizes were also awarded to: Freda Rebecca Gold Mine, Zimbabwe and Sandvik, Tanzania in the Most Comprehensive category; Hazida Motors, Zambia and Lincoln Lubrication, South Africa in the Best Progress category; and to Scania, Botswana and Sodeico Manpower, DRC in the Most Innovative category.
Peer Educator Achievement awards were also given to: Tellmore Chiramba, Ericom Communications, Zimbabwe; Arlindo Mário Cumbi, Auto Sueco, Mozambique; Laban Mahindu, Tamarind Translations, Kenya; Maurine Chirwa, ABB, South Africa and Nzovwa Mulaisho, Bayport Financial Services, Zambia.
Sodeico Manpower, winner of the SWHAP achievement award for Most Innovative Programme in 2015, held a football tournament in July. During matches the company’s employees and SWHAP partners in the DRC were offered HIV counselling and Testing services while male and female condoms were handed out. The aim of the initiative was to motivate the Sodeico agents to engage in active lifestyles and to promote the prevention of non-communicable diseases such as obesity and diabetes.
In related news Bayport Financial Services and Scania Hazida in Zambia held their own football tournament on 23 July and raised awareness on HIV and wellness. The tournament provided an opportunity for Peer Educators to network and conduct joint sensitisation for the 300 supporters that watched the match. The outreach offered opportunity for testing, counselling and referral through a local service provider.