Earning Their Way to Healthier Lives

Article Date

08 February 2012

Media Contact

Anne McPherson

Vice President, Global Communications email [email protected]

In Zambezia Province’s remote villages—often hours from urban areas down bumpy dirt roads—women toil in their homes and gardens just as they might have done hundreds of years ago. Strict male and female roles keep women digging on the land by day, cleaning and cooking by night, and supervising their children in between chores. They have little free time, little access to the outside world—even the radio is a rare treat—and basic household products are many miles away in the nearest trading center. They also have little help. Men are responsible for earning income for the family, but in an area with few employment opportunities, many cope through excessive drinking and risky sex. As women try to protect themselves from illness and manage their households, they do not have the money, time or information to make even small changes to improve their lives.

This stark reality has presented unique challenges in rural swathes of Mozambique where there are few opportunities, economic or otherwise, for women. Yet in a country where 85 babies are infected with the virus by their mothers every day and 22 percent of women between the ages of 20 and 24 are living with HIV; as compared to 7 percent of men the same age; it is critical that effective interventions are put into place.

The Women First program has sought to combine HIV prevention education with income generating projects to ensure that a maximum number of women are reached. Women participants are supplied with basic household products like soap, cooking oil, sugar and candles which they sell door-to-door, “Avon Lady” style, in their own and nearby villages. In exchange, not only do they earn an income, but they also receive critical information about protecting themselves against infection. 

Read the full case study to find out how this innovative program has employed creativity, resiliency and targeted gender approaches in the fight against HIV and AIDS in Mozambique.