08.06.2011 - UNESCO Office in Kathmandu

Campaign launched to protect illiterate women from HIV/AIDS

©UNESCO/Manoj Bhatt -Spouses of migrant workers from Far Western Nepal

A pioneering project to educate illiterate women about HIV/AIDS and reduce their vulnerability to the epidemic has been launched in mid and far western Nepal.

This group is obviously at high risk of infection because they cannot read preventative health care information like most sectors of the population.

The project targets mainly the spouses of migrant workers, who are at particularly risk as they are often unknowingly infected by their husbands who have had sexual relations with sex workers while working away from the marital home.   

Many of the women are illiterate, which requires a very specific approach to the preparation of learning material in the Nepali, Doteli and Tharu languages.  

This learning information will be made available through classes held in community learning centres. 

Regionally, the female literacy rate is very low (27.4 per cent) and they often have poor knowledge about HIV and AIDS. 

Tap Raj Pant from the UNESCO Office in Kathmandu said: “The project aims primarily at improving the women’s knowledge of HIV and AIDS and of safer sex practices to protect themselves.  

“But it will also contribute to make those affected by HIV and AIDS to be better accepted in their families and communities.” 

One of the main features of the project is the training of literacy facilitators from community learning centers on HIV and AIDS. 

UNAIDS Country Coordinator for Nepal and Bhutan Dr. Marlyn Borromeo said: “We are pleased that we can provide catalytic resources for this innovative UNESCO project. 

“It has all the potential to advance the scope, scale and effectiveness of Nepal’s response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.” 

The project is funded by the UNAIDS Programme Acceleration Funds (PAF).

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