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SAfAIDS & K4Health Traditional Leaders eForum Discussion Summary

eForum Discussion Summary

The role of Traditional Leaders in the prevention of HIV and Gender-based Violence

14-18 May




Traditional leaders, as custodians of culture, and role models for their communities, are in a strong position to be able to address harmful cultural practices in order to promote the prevention of HIV and gender-based violence (GBV) within their communities. Supporting and empowering traditional leaders with the knowledge and skills to assist their communities to address HIV and GBV through redressing harmful cultural practices, and promoting positive ones, will have a substantial impact in mitigating these twin epidemics ravaging communities in southern Africa.


This 5 day moderated discussion, run by the Southern Africa HIV and AIDS Information Dissemination Service (SAfAIDS), in partnership with the Knowledge for Health (K4Health) project, focused on the role of traditional leaders as champions in the prevention of HIV and GBV in eastern and southern Africa.  The discussion aimed to consider cultural and cultural practices and its role in the HIV and GBV epidemics, and to share information, resources, and examples of good practices on how traditional leaders can be empowered to support their communities to prevent HIV and GBV.


Discussion statistics

Number of participants: 137

Number of countries represented by participants: 7

Number of contributions: 22

% of contributions from developing countries:  86%

Contributing countries: Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Zambia, Zimbabwe, USA


Key themes emerging from the discussion

  • The need to truly understand culture and cultural practices
  • The need to involve all community stakeholders and make changes from within
  • Acknowledgement of the importance of traditional leaders in addressing harmful cultural practices to mitigate HIV and GBV in communities  
  • Challenges in addressing cultural barriers to HIV and GBV prevention programmes
  • The importance of gender dynamics
  • The need to document and share promising practices, success stories, and resources

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