Female counselor in MSM/MSW/TG project is not a gender barrier

Published: August 1, 2008

Female counselor in MSM/MSW/TG project is not a gender barrier rather a breakthrough in the traditional framework of gender sensitivity in HIV prevention
Issues: Participation of female staff in STI/HIV/AIDS prevention among different high risk population is important as globally half of positives are women. 

Description: Light House is implementing MSM/MSW/TG project with 4000 individuals. As these target population bears female traits, we got some enthusiastic female applicants who knowing the nature of project activities wanted to be counselor to encounter challenges that might arise. In the era of gender equality, despite uncertainties, the management of Light House offered equal opportunity to all applicants. After intensive orientation/ training, three female staff were grounded in the field. Female counselors are now working with satisfactory performance. MSM/MSW/TG reported their satisfaction in terms of openness and comfortable proposition of the female counselors at the DIC. The MSM/MSW/TG reported their concerns and problems without any hesitation, rather with comfort and satisfaction. They appreciated the non-judgmental, sympathetic and knowledgeable interaction of the female counselor. They learned issues relating to their own sexuality, transmission and prevention of STI including HIV/AIDS. 

Lessons learned: Although we had a pre-conceived idea that MSM/MSW/TG population may not accept any female staff in this project, the acceptance of female counselors among the community has proved our notion inappropriate, thus created a new dialogue in the traditional framework of gender sensitivity in HIV intervention. Gender is not a rigid concept, rather more a relation. 

Next steps: MSM/MSW/TG populations quite often have feminine notions and feeling in their ways of life and thought. Therefore, they feel more comfortable with female gender. So NGO/CBOs working with MSM/MSW/TG may have to consider recruiting female staff members in some position based on the emerging needs of the project. We need to bring more female soldiers in the fight against HIV/AIDS not only because they suffer most in the epidemic but also for their efficient and dedicated work. 

-Abstract can be found at link below-

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