Courage and Commitment: Chief Encourages Men to Step Up
Chief Chiveso, a traditional leader in Zimbabwe, is a strong advocate for male involvement in prevention of mother-to-child-transmission (PMTCT) of HIV services. He works with the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) to encourage men to prioritize their family’s health and to play a more active role in family planning. He made the following remarks on championing women’s rights during a World AIDS Day address to his community in Dec. 2013:
“It is up to me to help my people in the right way so that they continue to have children who live and are there tomorrow and in future generations. Children are our future. They are our future leaders, doctors, and teachers. We simply cannot allow a child to risk being born HIV-positive because the mother fears being bewitched if she goes to the clinic early to tell them that she is pregnant—or because a father does not want to go and get an HIV test with his wife. No, No, No!
“Men should go the clinic with their partners and should be involved in programs such as PMTCT.
“It is neither [a] cultural nor [a] traditional belief of ours that we should not support our partners during pregnancy [and] delivery and throughout the time the baby is breastfeeding. I used to carry my wife’s bag myself and take her to the clinic. I did not go in, fine… but I waited outside until she was finished and would walk back home with her. That was over 65 years ago! And if it were today, of course I would proudly go inside the clinic with her and get an HIV test together.
“So where did this come from that so few of our men don’t want to be with their wives during this important time? It’s not our culture; it’s not our tradition. So as the custodians of our culture and tradition, we must defend its virtues, but ensure we are embracing knowledge and advancements that give us a hope for tomorrow—children [are] our tomorrow.”