World AIDS Day comes at a critical moment in the history of the AIDS crisis. Reversing this epidemic depends on how our policymakers use three powerful forces: science, political will and money.
Why Science? The annual UNAIDS World AIDS day Report for 2011 shows that in 2010 alone, more than 700,000 AIDS deaths were averted and more than 2.5 million deaths have been averted since the introduction of anti-retrovirals (ARVs) in 1995.
Investments in fighting HIV/AIDS save lives. In the past year, new research revealed that treatment can also be prevention and that ARVs can also reduce the likelihood of one partner passing HIV to another by 96%. Read More
This AJWS series on storytelling and justice is guest edited by Deji Olukotun.
AJWS’s Washington-based advocacy department seeks to influence decision-makers to support policies and laws that advance AJWS’s mission to empower the world’s marginalized people. Working primarily with members of the U.S. Congress and the executive branch, the advocacy department develops an ‘ask’—or specific demand—that a decision maker is capable of actualizing. Asking and influencing both relate to the power of persuasion, making our advocacy work ripe for storytelling. In this piece in our storytelling blog series, policy associate Amanda Cary describes the complex ways in which storytelling is used by the advocacy department.
It’s been nearly 30 years since Lawrence Altman wrote The New York Times’ first article about AIDS, a disease unknown and unnamed back in July of 1981. This week, after 30 years and 60 million infections, Altman chronicles the progress, the failures and the future challenges in the fight against HIV/AIDS. He writes:
As AIDS has become entrenched in the United States and elsewhere, a new generation has grown up with little if any knowledge of those dark early days. But they are worth recalling, as a cautionary tale about the effects of the bafflement and fear that can surround an unknown disease and as a reminder of the sweeping changes in medical practice that the epidemic has brought about.
We are happy to report good news from Uganda today. The Ugandan parliament ended its session without considering the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Adrian Jjuuko of our partner, the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law, explained:
“The Ugandan parliament has closed today. There was no agreed business to discuss today and thus the Speaker adjourned the session. Thus the Anti-Homosexuality Bill has to be reintroduced in the new parliament and the whole process to begin all over again. Thank you all for the efforts and solidarity in fighting this ominous bill. The struggle may have to begin all over again, but for now, the process is over.”
It is unclear what the future holds for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in the next parliament, but this victory today is a testament to the power of advocacy.
We want to thank our Ugandan partners for their tireless efforts, as well as the entire AJWS community and our allies in Congress and the Obama Administration for their work to support human rights activists in Uganda. We especially want to thank Senator Chris Coons for releasing a statement yesterday rejecting the bill and affirming that “equality and human rights are intrinsic values that matter in America, in Uganda, and around the world.”
The fight to stop Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill continues. We thought the bill would be voted on in Parliament today, but it wasn’t. An unrelated issue derailed debates and several members of Parliament walked out. Parliament will reconvene for the last time this Friday, May 13th, at which point the bill could still be voted on and passed.
AJWS has been reaching out to our allies in Congress and in the State Department to ensure continued U.S. engagement at this critical time. The State Department released a statement on Box Turtle Bulletin here explaining its full commitment to stopping this bill from passing. We thank them for their work to support the Ugandan LGBTI community and all Ugandans as they fight an environment of broad human rights abuses in their country. AJWS will continue to be in close contact with our allies in Uganda and in the U.S. to ensure that the U.S. government does not miss an opportunity to condemn the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.
As our colleagues at the Civil Society for Human Rights and Constitutional Law have said, “Friday is now the day to watch for. Let the action and statements continue.”
If you haven’t yet called your Senator and Representative asking them to speak out against this draconian bill, you can do so by contacting their offices through the Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121.
Since the earthquake, the international community has rallied around Haiti with aid, relief and reconstruction operations, not to mention plenty of good will. But some of this good will has proven to be misguided, especially as it relates to food aid.
Emerging reports are verifying what civil society groups have been saying for years: the influx of cheap U.S. rice as food aid is disrupting local agricultural markets. In many rural areas in Haiti, farmland remained intact after the earthquake. But the well-intentioned introduction of free U.S. rice now threatens to undercut the ability of local farmers to sell their crops, depriving them of their livelihoods at a time when strengthening the country’s agricultural sector is key to overall recovery. Read More