Recently, the Higherlife Foundation participated at ICASA 2015 in panel discussions on how we can maintain the momentum gained in the fight against HIV/AIDS. On day 3 Dr. Kennedy Mubaiwa represented the Foundation in a discussion on how sustainable leadership can be used to end HIV/AIDS by 2030 and on day 4 Mrs. Masiyiwa took to the stage to discuss how Private and public organisations can work together to tackle HIV/AIDS. The panel discussing how sustainable leadership can be used to end HIV/AIDS by 2030 was made up of high profile individuals who included the Vice president of Zambia, Mrs. Inonge Wina, the Senior advisor of the global fund, Hon Minister David Parirenyatwa to mention but a few. In this session, panel members discussed how Africa’s leadership can sustain the fight against HIV/AIDS to ensure we meet 2030 objectives. To give the problem at hand some context the Global Fund Senior advisor ran through some figures in which she stated that 17 million lives have been saved to date and we are on track to save 22 million by 2016 if we manage to maintain the momentum gained. The global fund is currently distributing 6 million ARV’s to Africa and African countries have committed 5.9 billion to fight against AIDS. However this is not enough as 97 billion is required to sustain current momentum.
We cannot talk about HIV and AIDS without mentioning some of the social factors that influence the spreading of the virus to today’s children. Poverty, Culture and tradition and Child marriage are major contributors. The ICASA conference dedicated a session to discuss Child marriages and HIV/AIDS where HLF actively took part in. Child marriage is one of the biggest contributors to the spread of HIV/AIDS and 7 of the top 10 countries with highest child marriage rates are in Africa and it is being fuelled by poverty, lack of education and abuse of religious cultures. Mr Innocent Gonese strongly spoke against child marriages and expressed concern about boys and girls being husbands and wives instead of being in school. HLF work with children to bring generational transformation and it is our extended responsibility to educate parents and guardians on the negative impact of marrying off children. Child marriages is deemed ‘a solution’ in Poverty stricken communities and this is the misconception that HLF and other development agents fight in order to give children the chance to go to school to fulfill their God given purpose. Education is the only means to end poverty and not child marriages.
Nyaradzai Gumbonzvanda CEO – World YWCA & African Union Goodwill Ambassador to End Child Marriage, also added her remarks saying that its important for us to protect our future generations and lets not destroy their future through child marriages. She then urged government officials and the civil society to create safe space for dialogue with young people to listen to what they have to say as educating the girl child will drastically minimize
child marriages and the spread of HIV/AIDS.
On day 4, Our Co Chair – Mrs. Masiyiwa took the stage to represent HLF in a session on Private, Public Partnerships in which industry leaders who included the CEO of Tongaat Hueletts Sydney Mtsambiwa and Dr. Bernard Haufiku from Namibia, DR. M Mugabe from UNAIDS and Carl Manian discussed how private sector organisations can work with the public sector organisations to fight the HIV/AIDS so as to meet the 2030 goals. In this session Mrs. Masiyiwa took the opportunity to give clarity about HLF as a Social Impact Investor, investing in high impact, community-changing
initiatives and not a charity organization. She reiterated that the Private sector needs to play a different role in communities than they have previously did. Moving from CSR to building knowledge economies and use technology and social media to help spread information on HIV/AIDS. She also stated that Higherlife Foundation has shared interest and a common platform with Government and other organisations fighting HIV/AIDS as we all have compelling ideas to solve social problems and we should all come together through private, public partnerships to meet 2030 targets.
A critical point to note that is key to assisting Development Agents and Philanthropic organization make headway in tackling societal challenges, is the statement made by HLF CO Chair that the Private sector needs to play a different role in communities than they have previously done. This is a loaded statement that calls for a paradigm
shift in our approach to business as this will help tackle public health threats such as HIV/AIDS and other factors that influence the spread of deadly diseases and viruses. Progress made thus far has yielded positive results
over the past decade as a result of more countries and private sectors joining in the fight against HIV/ AIDS. HLF, in effort to be more effective in bringing transformation and awareness to African communities, has prioritized providing access to Education for children while making available platforms and support pillars that enable
empowerment through life skills training. Health and Crisis Response and Pastoral Care offer this kind of support. Education is not education if people continue to live with the same mindset and expecting different results.