Be Bold for Change – International Women’s Day Commemorations

The 2017 theme for International Women’s Day “Be Bold For Change” was chosen to inspire drastic action for gender equality. SWHAP and its partners held various events to commemorate the day and ramp up support for the cause.

Peer Educators from the Atlas Copco office in Dar es Salaam Tanzania visited a local orphanage to conduct an awareness talk on menstrual hygiene for the young women there. They also donated sanitary wear and money raised by their colleagues. UNESCO estimates that one in ten adolescent girls in Africa miss school and eventually drop out due to menstruation-related issues (www.theguardian.com).

At the Mwanza offices awareness sessions were conducted for 33 members of staff on raising children and offering them equal opportunities in terms of access to education. The predominantly male audience was encouraged to embrace their responsibilities regarding parenting and to be supportive partners.

More than 200 workplace and Spouse Peer Educators from Botswana, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe joined the call to be “Bold For Change”. During gender dialogues held in the four countries Peer Educators were challenged to declare the bold actions that they would take to help close the gender gap and to identify potential risks and their mitigation.

In Zimbabwe Anna Sofia Erasmie, Counsellor Political and Commercial Affairs was at the event sharing on the great progress Sweden has made towards gender equality. Divine Ndhlukula Managing Director of Securico and Tendayi Kateketa Coordinator at the Pan African Positive Women’s Coalition gave rousing talks on the events that lead them to make bold changes that improved not only their own circumstances but those of other women as well.

The dialogues in Botswana focused on identifying the key issues affecting women in Botswana and the involvement of men in meaningful action aimed at promoting gender equality. The participants also examined current programmes and policies to see whether they encouraged male engagement and how these services could be made more relevant and accessible. This was in recognition of the generally poorer health seeking behaviours exhibited by men and the impact this has on the health of their partners. The dialogue was held in collaboration with Gender Links, Bonela, Men and Boys for Gender Equality, Young Women’s Christian Association, Kagisano Women’s Shelter and the Botswana Business Coalition on AIDS.

In Zambia, participants shared what they had been doing to address gender in the workplace and community. Encouragingly most companies in Zambia were already creating spaces for dialogue on gender with one company having created a workplace gender committee.

In general, the dialogues provided a good platform for focused and systematic interaction on the issue of gender parity. This this should raise the profile of the subject at the respective workplaces.

SWHAP in South Africa participated in a workshop with the National Institute for Occupational Health promoting partnerships amongst employers, trade unions and government departments involved in the workplace response to gender.

 

In the DRC, the SWHAP Country Coordinator raised the profile of gender sensitive workplace programmes during an interview on national television and the union La Confédération Syndicale du Congo (CSC) held a gender sensitisation event for its members in Lubumbashi. SWHAP is supporting the Union to set up HIV and wellness workplace programmes in 29 companies where the organisation has representation.

Companies in the SWHAP network also showed their appreciation for the women in their workforce. For example, SKF Zambia gave their Spouse Peer Educators and female employees fabric to make matching outfits for the national commemorative march. UD Trucks in South Africa encouraged its workforce to wear bold colours on the day: a symbolic gesture of the bold actions they would take for gender parity.

Related article

International Women’s Day 2017 – Be Bold For Change

Union Mentorship Programmes

SWHAP often partners with unions and employers’ organisations to build capacity for HIV and wellness programmes in the workplace. These programmes often result in improved relations between management and unions. In Tanzania, the Trade Union Congress of Tanzania (TUCTA) and the Association of Tanzania Employers (ATE) are working with ten companies to encourage investment into workplace programmes with support from SWHAP. HIV testing and health screening was conducted at Interchick and Hill Packaging Company in January.  279 employees established their HIV status and health risk profiles. The steering committees trained last year were instrumental in mobilising workers for testing resulting in high uptake.

Testing at Hill Packaging Company

SWHAP in the DRC has partnered with CSC to support the union in addressing HIV and wellness in 29 companies where the organisation has representation. In January, 43 Peer Educators from the Katanga province were trained on; sexual reproductive health, gender equality, behaviour change communication and advocacy for workplace programmes. The training was held over three days in Lubumbashi and included role play and group discussion after which, 6 192 male condoms, 127 female condoms and 200 information posters were handed out to the participants. Peer Educators from Atlas Copco were also present during the training providing invaluable support and insight about workplace peer education programmes.  Following the Peer Educators training, employee awareness sessions were held at BIAC (one of the companies participating in the mentorship programme) on 23 February for over 200 employees.

Newly trained CSC Peer Educators

On Friday 3 February, the National Union of Building, Engineering and General Workers Union (NUBEGW) mentorship programme was launched in Kitwe Zambia with management sensitisation for management and union representatives from the five companies participating in the programme. This was followed up with employee sensitisation at Zambia Metal Fabrication, one of the five companies under the mentorship: 150 employees attended the meeting. NUBEGW anticipate that the programme will help strengthen its comparative advantage in collective bargaining agreements, while promoting productive and sustainable workplaces.

NUBEGW was previously supported by SWHAP in 2012 to develop collective bargaining agreement tools that integrated HIV, AIDS, health and wellness.  SWHAP also shared international, regional and best practice bargaining tools with the Union’s bargainers. The Union has been engaged in addressing HIV and AIDS amongst its members at various levels and has also drafted an HIV and AIDS Policy for the sector which is yet to be disseminated.

NUBEGW is an affiliate of the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and represents building, engineering and general workers. It has a membership of 15 463 including Atlas Copco and Sandvik employees.

World TB Day 2017

Although tuberculosis (TB) deaths fell by 22% between 2000-2015, TB remains one of the top ten leading causes of death worldwide. In 2015 1.8 million people died from TB including 400 000 people with TB and HIV co-infection (WHO).  The disease is the major cause of death among people living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa.

The 2016 Global Tuberculosis Report notes that while there have been significant achievements in addressing TB, important diagnostic and treatment gaps persist. Workplace HIV and AIDS programmes can make a difference in accelerating the impact of the global TB response. This can be through; ensuring healthy well ventilated work spaces, providing screening and treatment for employees and their families, educating workers and communities on modifiable risk factors and offering disease management and support programmes for those affected with TB in the workplace.

SWHAP joins the rest of the world in commemorating World TB day under the theme “Unite to end TB”.  Ending TB by 2035 is everyone’s responsibility. As the example from one of our partner’s in South Africa shows this is not just a job for management, we can all do something.

Peer Educators addressing TB stigma

South Africa is one of six countries in the world with the highest TB burden. The country also has the highest HIV burden in the world, and over 70% of people living with HIV there are co-infected with TB. HIV fuels the TB epidemic as a weakened immune system allows for the development of TB. This association with HIV often results in stigma towards people suspected of having TB. A situation that Tarryn, a Peer Educator from Babcock was confronted with.

Last year we had a case of an employee who was suspected of having TB by colleagues. The colleagues had subsequently reported their “concerns of being coughed on” to their line manager. Understandably the employee was very distressed when she discovered what was happening and approached me as a Peer Educator for help.

With the help of the company service provider I organised an awareness session on TB and HIV at the workplace. Over several sessions we managed to speak to 170 employees explaining that TB is not HIV, that it is curable, and that the stigma around TB and HIV can be detrimental to people infected or affected by the diseases.

A few weeks after the awareness session the employee reported back to me that people were treating her so much better and that she felt that Babcock really cared about her as an individual.

In the two years since we started implementing a holistic wellness programme I have seen positive growth in the programme and realise how important the programme is for both the company and the employees. I have observed more employees testing, participating in the programme and giving feedback. Employee morale and productivity have increased and this has had a positive impact in our workplace.

Download a printable TB fact sheet

TB Facts

Related articles:

Managing TB in the workplace

Drug resistant TB on the rise

 

International Women’s Day 2017 – Be Bold For Change

The 2017 theme for International Women’s Day “Be Bold for Change” was chosen to inspire drastic action in light of a report from the World Economic Forum predicting that it could be another 169 years before the gender gap is closed.

Can this timeline be accelerated?

The private sector can play a more prominent role in improving the lives of women and girls. In the workplace, companies can; eliminate gender pay gaps, increase women’s roles in decision making at middle and upper management levels, implement work-life balance policies, address sexual harassment, improve access to healthcare, and hire and advance women in non-traditional fields. In the communities they can; ensure that women and girls have equal access to education and healthcare through corporate social responsibility programmes, raise awareness on gender based violence, and advocate for women’s representation in economic and political decision making processes.

For SWHAP and its partners promoting gender equality and parity is important because:

  • It is the right thing to do: the rights to equality and non-discrimination are fundamental principles to human rights.
  • Gender inequality makes women more vulnerable to HIV infection and is a key driver of the epidemic.
  • It makes economic sense. According to the Harvard Business Review gender parity in the workplace is associated with improved profitability and has been found to correlate with increased sales revenue, more customers, and greater relative profits (hbr.org/2016/12).
  • Complacency is not an option especially in sub-Saharan Africa where a 2016 UNDP report estimates that gender inequality is costing the region on average US$95 billion a year.

In the last 12 months SWHAP and its partners have stepped-up efforts to promote gender sensitive workplaces through a gender mainstreaming and diversity management strategy. Within wellness programmes, gender mainstreaming and diversity management are recognised as effective ways for the needs of men and women in relation to HIV (and other health issues) to be addressed. They also allow organisations to better plan and respond to gender and diversity issues in the workplace. So far, during pilot in-company social dialogues, 182 HIV and wellness steering committee members, trade union representatives and management from 19 companies in the DRC, Kenya, South Africa and Zimbabwe received basic training on how to; conduct gender analysis, develop gender objectives and indicators, and to identify areas of improvement relating to diversity management. The objective is to ensure that gender is a consideration and an application in all business decisions, management, operations and sustainability strategies.

The gender mainstreaming process is also helping the companies conduct gender focused community outreach initiatives in a more strategic manner: going beyond corporate social responsibility. One example among many is Ericsson who are partnering with local schools to encourage young women to take up telecommunication subjects at tertiary level – addressing a need the company has for employing more women. Additionally in the DRC Ericsson has trained spouses of employees on the rapid diagnosis of malaria so they can ensure quicker access to treatment for their families; potentially reducing the disease burden of the company.

This International Women’s Day SWHAP partners in East Africa will raise awareness on gender equality and equity while in the DRC SWHAP will attend a commemorative event hosted by the Association of Female Entrepreneurs of the DRC. SWHAP South Africa will participate in a gender workshop with the National Institute for Occupational Health promoting partnerships amongst employers, trade unions and relevant government departments. In Botswana, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe gender dialogues will be held creating safe spaces to challenge gender bias and inequality.

How will you #BeBoldForChange?

World AIDS Day Commemorations

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.

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Management and Employee Sensitisation

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.

Awareness session at Eltel In Zambia

Awareness session at Eltel In Zambia

In Mozambique management and employee sensitisations were held in November for Verde Azul.

Cancer Awareness at Scania Botswana

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.

Scania Botswana Cycling Team.

Scania Botswana Cycling Team.

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Female colleagues from Scania Botswana supporting the Movember Movement where men grow moustaches to raise the profile on men’s health and cancers affecting men.

Sandvik Supply Chain Breakfast Meeting

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.

Patience Mukotsanjera from Freda Rebecca Gold Mine speaking on the benefits of mentorship

Patience Mukotsanjera from Freda Rebecca Gold Mine speaking on the benefits of mentorship

Networking and Training

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.

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Zimbabwe Peer Educator Network Meeting

Peer Educators from Atlas Copco, Auto Sueco and Tecnel Mozambique participated in training in November

In Mozambique Peer Educators from Atlas Copco, Auto Sueco and Tecnel participated in training in November.

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.

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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.

World AIDS Day 2016 – Hands up for prevention programmes that engage men

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.

Blood pressure screening and HIV testing at a company participating in the Ericsson Uganda Supply Chain Proramme in Uganda – Companies are extending programmes to their value chain through mentorship and Supply Chain Programme

Blood pressure screening and HIV testing at a company participating in the Ericsson Uganda Supply Chain Proramme in Uganda – Companies are extending programmes to their value chain through mentorship and Supply Chain Programmes

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.

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Community outreach programmes raising awareness on wellness and HIV are engaging men in the formal and informal sectors

Community outreach programmes raising awareness on wellness and HIV are engaging men in the formal and informal employment

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.

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Peer Educators promoting HIV and wellness testing in their communities

To read the report follow the link Get on the Fast Track – The life-cycle approach to HIV