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Feminisms, HIV and AIDS : addressing power to reduce women's vulnerability.

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Thesis (Ph.D.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, 2008.
Women globally, and especially in sub Saharan Africa, are disproportionately affected by HIV and AIDS. Factors driving the HIV and AIDS pandemics include the oppression of women and gender inequality. Despite an intensified focus on women and girls in an attempt to reduce vulnerability to HIV little real progress has been made. This is in part because the sophisticated analysis of risk, vulnerability and our understanding of the pandemics is not match by equally sophisticated responses to prevention, care, treatment and support. Power over / male domination, evident at every level of society, fuels the pandemics, and makes women vulnerable. Using feminist understandings of power and domination this thesis explores the notion of subverting power. Through a series of case studies the notion of negative and positive power is explored; positive power includes power with, power to and power within. Examples of women’s resistance individually and collectively using the different types of power are highlighted. The thesis demonstrates that that women are not powerless and can and do affect change in their lives in all sites of struggle, that is can increase bodily autonomy, improve intimate relationships and challenge inequality in the households and community. Based on the learnings from the case study a theoretical model that addressed power as problem and solution in the context of HIV and AIDS is presented.


AIDS (Disease) in women--Social aspects., HIV-positive women--Social aspects., Theses--Development studies.