National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
“There is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women and girls,” Kofi Annan, Former Secretary – General of the United Nations
Given cultural, social and institutional norms, the fact that women and young girls are at greater risk for HIV is not surprising. Gender power dynamics, a lack of autonomy, poor access to knowledge, finance and care, as well as the inability to exercise basic freedoms and rights put them in vulnerable positions around the world. Biologically too, females are more susceptible. Health research suggests that receptive sex is riskier than insertive sex. Incidences of intimate partner violence is alarmingly high, particularly for women living with HIV whose diagnosis significantly heightens their risk. Trauma and abuse further affects access to care and the ability to manage illness. The likelihood of disease is significantly compounded for females who are located in regions marked with poverty and crisis. Young girls are often forced out of school, into early marriages and are subject to genital mutilation and abuse. On account of their gender and their unfortunate epidemiological and social susceptibilities, women and young girls need to be actively empowered and protected. National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is observed every year on March 10 to raise awareness about the ways in which females can prevent HIV through protection and treatment.
Young women and adolescent girls may not receive facts and answers that are presented in an easily digestible way. Moreover, stigmatized women who reside in rural areas lack access to knowledge due to their societal position, but also because the various snippets of information that they do receive are often fragmented or presented in unfamiliar dialects. Communicating complex scientific information, particularly concerning health is more nuanced than merely presenting facts and suggesting a list of action points. Education must be mindfully designed so that it informs but more importantly, resonates and generates lasting impact. A consciousness of local context, culture and community while disseminating knowledge can help to increase awareness, as well as reduce stigma among the general population.
For more than a decade now, TeachAids has recognized the unique need for targeted education of at-risk populations. The TeachAids research methodologies are based on the need for gender concordance in education, and as such, has incorporated this into discussion of sensitive health topics by including well-known female leads. Research shows that when females talk to females, it strikes a chord and the reception is proven to be better. Avatars that are similar to an audience resonate strongly since they are considered more credible, trustworthy, and friendly. The foundational work by Dr. Clifford Nass on voice properties also play a vital role in communicating information effectively – those speaking similar accents, pronunciation, dialects are not only able to capture the audience’s attention but make a stronger, sustainable impact. Employing these evidence-based methods, TeachAids reached out to celebrities of a similar gender with relatable voice properties and the results were hugely encouraging. With products in numerous languages and with female representation, TeachAids has been able to create targeted animated educational tools. On National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, here are some examples of our animated content to share with loved ones:
TeachAids Assamese Female Animation (starring: Malaya Goswami and Zerifa Wahid)
TeachAids English-African Animation (starring: Jazelle and Tref)
TeachAids English-Indian Female Animation (starring: Shabana Azmi and Shruti Haasan)
TeachAids English-Indian Animation (starring: Generic female voices)
TeachAids Hindi Female Animation (starring: Shabana Azmi and Shruti Haasan)
TeachAids Setswana Animation (starring: Jazelle and Tref)
TeachAids Tamil Female Animation (starring: Anushka Shetty and Shruti Haasan)
TeachAids Telugu Female Animation (starring: Anushka Shetty and Swati)
By including powerful women such as Shabana Azmi, Suhasini Maniratnam, Oratile Jazzelle Kebakile, Shruti Haasan and Thato Tref Maruping and many more in conversations around HIV prevention, the message resonates more deeply. Each project is a step forward in creating an infrastructure that enables inclusive, equitable knowledge dissemination. Every girl who is educated begins a cycle of change and the TeachAids team believe that this is an opportunity for an investment that will impact many generations and entire nations.