Brothers for Life – ignites a movement of men across South Africa
A new fire was ignited in Kwamashu, Durban, today that is spreading across the country as South African leaders and men from all walks of life are standing up, speaking out and doing the right by becoming Brothers for Life.
Brothers for Life is a joint effort by the South African National AIDS Council, the Department of Health, USAID/PEPFAR, Johns Hopkins Health and Education in South Africa (JHHESA), Sonke Gender Justice and the United Nations System in South Africa.
In a message of support, Deputy President and Chairperson of the South African National AIDS Council, Kgalema Motlanthe, expressed his unreserved support for the campaign. Deputy President Motlanthe said that “Government supports all initiatives to minimize HIV infections, strengthen family values and contribute towards the rebuilding of the moral fabric of society. The Deputy President said that "governments key approach to dealing with HIV remains prevention, treatment care and support, which requires invigorated social partnerships."
Brothers for Life is the first large scale national effort that is focusing on the role that men have to play in a world with AIDS. Men have largely been excluded from previous HIV prevention efforts and where men have been included this has often blamed or marginalised men. Brothers for life seeks to mobilize men as improving the health and social outcomes for men directly improve the health and wellbeing of women and children – so the campaign has direct benefit for the entire society.
The campaign is sponsored by USAID/PEPFAR that provide financial and technical support to improve the lives of South Africans affected by HIV/AIDS. Representing the US Government, Jill Deriderian, US Consular General, said that "Brothers for Life is sounding a call to men, to become involved, to take responsibility, to become active partners, and to lead — in their families, and in their communities" She said that the "U.S. government strongly supports and commends the Brothers for Life initiative. We believe that working together, in partnership, YES WE CAN make a difference and improve lives of women and men in South Africa".
Over the coming months South Africans will see the Brothers for Life Manifesto advertisement that will be broadcast on all television stations, on radio and in the print media.
In making the manifesto advertisement, advertising agency Joe Public traveled across the country asking women to nominate men from their communities who best exemplified the manifesto advertisement. These men are the voices and faces of the campaign who join the Deputy President and celebrity actor John Kani and comedian Trevor Noah calling on men to stand up, speak out and do the right thing.
"I think for me the Brothers for Life campaign was something that I always believed in and when it came along it was easy to jump on board and support it,” says comedian Trevor Noah. “Because I grew up in a community where we were a generation of men raised by women. Single mothers were the order of the day in the household we grew up, in a world where we had no male role models to look up at. Brothers for Life is a great focus. It is something to aspire to. To be a man who takes responsibility, a man who is accountable. To be somebody who people look up to."
The manifesto calls upon South Africa men to take responsibility for their actions, men who choose to have one partner over multiple chances with HIV, men whose self worth is not determined by the number of partners he can have, men who make no excuses for unprotected sex even after drinking, men who support their partners and protect their children, men who respect their women and never lift a hand to them, men who know that the choices they make today will determine their future.
Nhlanhla Vesi, a community facilitator and Brothers for Life Ambassador who works with men for the Valley Trust in KwaZulu-Natal, says that men really want to take care of their families by protecting them from HIV/AIDS. "The only thing men need is support and love from their families and communities. They need to be affirmed, not always labelled as perpetrators of violence. This will enable them to truly show that they are caring for their families and other vulnerable people." Vesi adds that his message to women, children, communities and the media is: "Give men the opportunity to demonstrate their positive side as caring fathers of the nation."
Ms Nomfundo Eland of the SANAC Women’s Sector said that the sector supports the Brother for Life Campaign. "It is important that men actively take up the battle in curbing the rate of new HIV infections firstly understanding their own bodies, having safe sex, treating STIs, testing for HIV, planning pregnancy, getting involved and supporting their partner through pregnancy and being responsible parents." Nomfundo adds that, "working with men as partners is very important in changing gender norms that perpetuate the spreads of AIDS and in broader sexual and reproductive health."
Refilwe Lesabane / Ronelle Mossop
Marcus Brewster Publicity
082 552 1547 / 011 783 8222
On behalf of:
Johns Hopkins Health and Education in South Africa