Full Length Research Paper
HIV Aids has had a major impact on resource-limited African rural Sub-Saharan communities, especially upon women who typically experience greater gender inequity, have fewer assets and greater food insecurity and vulnerability. Coordinated interventions in crop productivity, nutrition, AIDS treatment, and livelihood security can have significant positive impacts on individuals and households; however their impact upon gender relations and social equity is unclear. Qualitative interviews and an integrative model of factors influencing women’s empowerment are used to examine this issue in four villages of the Miracle Project in Zambia and Malawi. Although some local agency and NGO programs existed in these villages prior to project inception, female respondents reported improvements in crop productivity and income, some initiation of new enterprises, improvement in ownership of assets and housing quality and access or re- access to kinship or community based mutual assistance networks from which they had been excluded. Consumption of the introduced quality protein maize and products from home processing of soyabeans were cited as improving household nutrition. Together with increased accessibility to retroviral drugs, women’s health has improved; levels of poverty and stigmatisation have reduced and allowed many to display an improved degree of empowerment.
Key words: HIV/AIDS; nutrition; agriculture; gender; social inclusion; empowerment.
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