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Gender, HIV/AIDS and Rural Livelihoods in Southern Africa: Addressing the Challenges

Gladys B. Mutangadura


The HIV/AIDS epidemic in sub Saharan Africa is increasingly becoming one of the major impediments to sustainable development. The increased mortality and morbidity of prime-age adults caused by the HIV/AIDS pandemic has brought wide ranging socio-economic impacts on all aspects of rural livelihoods that includes erosion of food security and the livelihood asset base, decreased access to education and other productive assets thereby exacerbating poverty. It is widely acknowledged that the impacts of HIV/AIDS on rural livelihoods are not gender neutral, they deepen and widen existing gender inequalities. This paper examines how the socio-economic impacts of HIV/AIDS on rural livelihoods have aggravated gender inequalities resulting in the increased vulnerability of women to poverty and HIV infection. Yet women play a crucial role in agriculture and household food security. The paper suggests policy response options that can promote equal opportunities for women and men within the context of HIV/AIDS particularly in access to food and resources such as assets, capital, technology, agriculture and rural development services, as well as to employment opportunities and decision-making processes.

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JENdA: A Journal of Culture and African Women Studies. ISSN: 1530-5686 (online).
Editors: Nkiru Nzegwu; Book Editor: Mary Dillard.

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