UN Women, National AIDS Council collaborate in offering HIV Response training to partners implementing SASA! Together Methodology


UN Women in partnership with National AIDS Council of Zimbabwe (NAC-Zimbabwe) conducted a five-day national SASA! Together Support Phase Training of Trainers (ToT) in Kwekwe on 18-22 July.  The ToT was made possible through the support from the Spotlight Initiative, funded by European Union, targeting organisations already implementing the SASA! Together Start and Awareness phases in various provinces in Zimbabwe. The training aimed to build participants’ skills and encourage community members to join power with women experiencing violence and men who are potential allies in preventing violence against women and girls and reducing the risks of HIV infections.

SASA! Together is a programme methodology with four phases (Start, Awareness, Support, Action) developed by Raising Voices to address the links between violence against women and HIV/AIDS. The methodology, based the stages of change theoretical model, is meant to inspire, enable and structure effective community mobilization to prevent violence against women and HIV/AIDS.

SAYWHAT Community Activists :  Photo Credit: SAYWHAT Zimbabwe
SAYWHAT Community Activists : Photo Credit: SAYWHAT Zimbabwe

Thirty-eight participants drawn from various organisations including Katswe Sistahood, National AIDS Council, Zimbabwe Association of Church-related Hospitals (ZACH), Hope for a Child in Christ (HOCIC), Students and Youth Working on reproductive Health Action Team (SAYWHAT) and Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprise Development participated in the training, and they will go on and train SASA! Together Community Activists on how to implement the Support Phase at community level in their respective programme districts across the country.  

The Support Phase TOT capacitated trainers with skills on how to move beyond shame and stigma on women experiencing Gender Based Violence, how to hold Gender Based Violence perpetrators accountable and how to support couples transforming.  As organisations prepare to move from Awareness to Support Phase, they cross-shared information on good practices drawn from their Start and Awareness phases’ experiences and achievements.

Katswe Sistahood is successfully implementing SASA! Together methodology in Mbire and Guruve district in Mashonaland Central province supported by UN Women under the European Union funded Spotlight Initiative, and the Unified Budget, Results and Accountability Framework (UBRAF). Katswe Sistahood trained fifty community activists using the HeForShe dialogue model in beerhalls and at sports activities, engaging men and boys to discuss issues of power imbalance and toxic masculinity. In some instances, drama scenes have been used at monthly community gatherings to convey messages and raise awareness on GBV. The main aim of these efforts is to achieve positive behaviour change that eliminates GBV, gender inequalities and HIV/AIDS.

Katswe Sistahood also supported the Doma girls in Mbire district with dignity packages, 32 Gender Based Violence cases were reported and survivors were supported with women economic empowerment start-ups of either goat or piggery projects and sewing clubs.
Through the support from UN Women under Spotlight Initiative, fifty community activists received bicycles to address mobility challenges.

“One of the biggest challenge we faced during the Start and Awareness Phases  in Mbire and Guruve was transport services to travel for outreach and awareness raising. However, UN Women under Spotlight Initiative supported fifty trained Community Activists in Mbire and Guruve with bicycles to address this transport challenge”, said  Fadziso Maunganidze, Katswe Sistahood Programme Officer.

SAYWHAT is also implementing the SASA! Together in Hopley district, Harare Province through the support of UN Women targeting youth. Significant positive changes have been achieved in the district. The number of reported cases has risen demonstrating increase in knowledge of the referral pathways and support systems available for residence in the community.

SAYWHAT Provincial Programs Officer, Ms Rumbidzai Mabuto said, “Through SASA! Together programming, there has been a positive change of behaviour and social norms in Hopley, the number of GBV cases has significantly gone down, and there has been an improved uptake in GBV services during the awareness phase due to the provision clear referral pathways and support systems for GBV survivors”.

Speaking at the training, UN Women HIV and Gender Specialist, Mrs Redah Manga highlighted that the training came at a crucial time when we are recovering from COVID-19 distresses that hindered the progress made in the start and awareness phases.

“We needed to move to the support phase after being stuck in the Awareness Phase for the past two years, mainly because of COVID-19. The training will support organisations towards the full cycle  of the SASA! Together methodology    so as to effectively support women experiencing GBV and men who want to positively change”, she said.

Participants during the SASA! Together Support Phase Training of Trainers.  Photo Credit: UN Women/Getrude Chigerwe
Participants during the SASA! Together Support Phase Training of Trainers. Photo Credit: UN Women/Getrude Chigerwe

UN Women has been leading the SASA! Together Methodology in Zimbabwe in partnership with its various implementing partners and the Ministry of Women Affairs as an effort to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls and mitigating HIV infections driven by violence against women, power imbalance and gender inequalities in Zimbabwe.

UN Women is currently providing technical and financial support to SAYWHAT, Katswe Sistahood and HOCIC and technical support to ZACH and the National AIDS Council - that are piloting SASA! Together across Zimbabwe under the Global Fund.

To date the organizations have implemented the Start and Awareness phases in 2018 and 2019 and are now moving on to Support Phase.