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Healthy Woman, Healthy Man, Health Family toolkit

Andrea van der Merwe (2010); Uitgever: Stop Aids Now! Text by Pascaline Kang'ethe & Andrea van der Merwe. Photography by Adriaan Backer


HIV rates are often higher among women and girls, and women and girls living with HIV tend to bear a heavier burden. This increased vulnerability is largely due to gender-based discrimination. To be effective, HIV prevention, care and support must contribute to transforming gender based attitudes, behaviours, and norms.


This toolkit contains guidelines and exercises for working on HIV, while promoting gender equality and women’s rights. Its conceptual approach is to support users through a learning journey leading to an empowered life in relation to HIV.  It uses a strengthbased approach to frame a journey which aims to change behaviour towards a healthy future. 


At a 116 pages, the toolkit contains seven sections with 31 activities and case studies.  Each is detailed with steps, materials, facilitators guidelines and handouts.  There are sections with additional reading, a glossary and additional information on the art of facilitation.


The target audience is community educators working on health and life-skills with groups of various levels of education and understanding. While designed for women and girls and their empowerment, the Toolkit can be readily used with men and boys. The Toolkit contains additional information for facilitators’ own education and empowerment. Created for use in Kenya, it can be easily adapted for further use in sub-Saharan Africa and beyond.


An overview of some of the sections:


Section 1: Guidelines & Starting Activities
In this section you will find guidelines for ways of working with participants and groups that will support you to achieve results and help prepare you as a facilitator. The section also details ways to work with community leaders and activities. Here, you can also find starting activities, which you can use the first time when working with specific groups, and regular activities that you can use every time you meet.


Section 2: Helping Participants to Connect with their Values and Identity
In this section you will find activities to work with participants and groups in ways that help them think through what is important for them in their lives—what kind of people they are, what are important values for them and where they are going as a community. This is an important part of the learning journey as it stimu- lates people to think about their life journey and what is good about it. It helps people think about what they want, and empowers them to feel in charge of their lives, rather than deciding and telling them what others think is good for them.


Section 3: Supporting Participants to be Empowered
In this section, a number of different routes are available for you to support people to empower themselves. This can be done through providing knowledge on HIV, through creating awareness of their gender rights or status, or facilitating activities to support economic empowerment.
This section recognises that you, as facilitator, might be using one or more of these starting points to work with groups, either focusing on HIV knowledge, or focusing on economic empowerment, etc. So, to enable you to start from the most appropriate starting point for your work, the following sub-sections can be used as starting points:

  • HIV Knowledge and Awareness;
  • Awareness of Human Rights;
  • Gender Awareness;
  • Awareness of Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Rights; and
  • Economic Empowerment.


Even though you can use any or all of these as starting points, and work through the section in any order, it is important to remember tha,t for best results, all work with participants should have a component of gender, rights and HIV awareness built into it. In this section you will be supporting participants to build awareness, provide them with knowledge and exercise empowering activities. This is in preparation for the next section, where actions and behaviour can start to change.

Section 4: Supporting Participants to Move Forward and Use Their Power
This last section in the participants’ learning journey focuses on how you can support participants and groups to take action and take responsibility for a life that works for them. They have decided what is important for them, what kind of people they are, and have been empowered with awareness and knowledge in the previous sections. This section gives them the opportunity to build and practice skills that can be used to negotiate safer practices and have better communication in their relationships and communities. In this way, you can support them to take action and use their power for their own futures.

Section 5: The Art of Facilitation
This section includes additional information and activities to help you, the facilitator, to grow in your own journey of becoming the best facilitator you can be. It includes principles on good facilitation, asking good ques- tions, and activities to enhance your participatory facilitation and adult learning skills. You can use this at any time as a resource.

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