|Gender Aware HIV and AIDS policy for Catholic Radio FM
The aim of Catholic Radio FM’s gender aware HIV and AIDS policy is to make a contribution to the efforts being made by government and other sectors in mitigating the spread and impact of HV and AIDS in Lesotho through broadcasting appropriate messages to it employees and audiences.
The policy also seeks to ensure a work place and society that is free of stigma and discrimination against those infected or affected by HIV as well as to ensure an increase in the quantity and quality of coverage on HIV and AIDS and its gender dimensions.
HIV and AIDS is one of the greatest challenges to the development of Lesotho, the SADC region and beyond. According to the Government of Lesotho National HV and AIDS Policy, at the prevalence rate of 23.2%1 and a tiny population the country has among the highest HIV infection and prevalence rates in the SADC region and in the world. It was because of this realisation that His majesty King Letsie III declared HIV and AIDS a national disaster in 2000.
The major drivers of the pandemic are factors that increase the vulnerability of the population resulting in involvement in risky behaviour. Among other drivers of the pandemic in Lesotho, the following are prominent in Lesotho:
Poverty and food insecurity
Unemployment; alcohol and drug abuse
Multiple concurrent sexual relationships
Migrant labour into South Africa and intergenerational sex
Another very significant driver of the pandemic is the unequal relations between women and men and gender based violence. Women in Lesotho have a very low socio economic standing because of traditional and legal systems that restrict them to minority legal and cultural status below men (either as husbands, fathers or first born sons).
Since the declaration by King Letsie III, the government has put in place various strategies including the Know Your Status Campaign (2005); the “Three ones” principle of the United Nations etc in an effort to reverse the spread of the HIV. It is under this background that Catholic Radio FM seeks to play its part in mitigating the impact of HIV and AIDS.
2.1 Role of Catholic Radio FM
Catholic Radio FM and the media sector in general occupies a very strategic position in Lesotho society. First, Catholic Radio FM carries the moral weight of the Catholic Church. Secondly, the media whether backed by the church or not, occupies a strategic position in society as it is a powerful instrument of social transformation that influences and shapes society’s perceptions about social issues including issues on sex and sexuality which are associated with the spread of HIV.
However, the HIV and AIDS and Gender Baseline conducted as part of the Media Action Plan (MAP) on HIV and AIDS and Gender found that in Lesotho HIV coverage constituted 19% percent of total coverage. People living with HIV constituted a mere 2% of sources which was less than the regional average of 4%. Despite the disproportionate burden shouldered by women, they constituted 44% of the sources compared to 56% for men in Lesotho. The report also found that the gender dynamics of the pandemic are not well understood. In the stories on prevention, the role of men and boys, sex work and cross generational sex which are some of the issues identified in the Lesotho National HIV and AIDS policy document as drivers of the pandemic, received little or no coverage.
Catholic Radio FM has a duty not only to its employees but to the society as a whole, to participate in preventive campaigns; and help those who need to access treatment and care; as well as help mitigate the effects of the pandemic on women.
It is against this background that Catholic Radio FM seeks to put in place this policy so that it can play its role in mitigating the spread and impact of HV and AIDS.
The Catholic Radio FM policy which will be adopted by the Board of Directors in accordance with the Lesotho Catholic Radio and Television is the result of the Media Action Plan (MAP) on HIV and AIDS and Gender led by Media Institute of Southern Africa, facilitated by Gender Links involving extensive consultations with the CRFM Station Manager, Newsroom Editors, Marketing Manager and Reporters including those who interned at the Station. There was a Policy Seminar where a Task Team was established and the draft refined in order to be signed by the Lesotho Catholic Bishops Conference and attached to the Constitution as a Policy Document. The policy is accompanied by an Action Plan which will be used to monitor the policy implementation.
2.3 Policy framework
The guiding frameworks for this policy are the Government of Lesotho National HIV and AIDS Policy (2006); International Labour Organisation (ILO) III Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Code of Conduct on HIV/AIDS and Employment, the SADC Declaration on HIV/AIDS, the Abuja Declaration, the Declaration of the UN General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS, the National AIDS policy and SEAF ethical principles.
2.3.1 In the workplace:
Recognition of HIV and AIDS as a workplace issue.
Healthy work environment.
Continuation of employment relationship.
Prevention measures in the workplace.
Treatment: Increasing access to affordable essential medicines; including ARVs and related technologies, through regional initiatives for joint purchasing of drugs; investing in nutrition programmes (SADC)
Care and support.
2.3.2 In editorial content:
The need to debunk misconceptions.
Being prepared to discuss sex, cultural practices and other sensitive issues respectfully but openly.
Holding decision-makers to account.
Ensuring that the voices and images of people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS are heard and seen.
Respecting the rights of people with HIV and AIDS.
Being aware of and seeking out the gender dimensions of all aspects of the pandemic.
Taking particular care in dealing with children.
Avoid fuelling discrimination, prejudice and stigma.)
3.1 Rights of employees with HIV
3.1.1 Catholic Radio FM will ensure that there is no discrimination or harassment directed at employees who are infected or are living with HIV at the work place regardless of their sex.
3.1.2 HIV testing shall not be a requirement for a job application at Catholic Radio FM.
3.1.3 No employee will be allowed to refuse to work with someone who is living with HIV and AIDS. Any employee who engages in such discriminatory behaviour will be committing a disciplinary offense.
3.1.4 No employee will be forced to declare their HIV status although the company will encourage employees to be open about it and discuss the issues freely.
3.1.5 Catholic Radio FM shall not dismiss or deny an employee access to training and or promotion on the basis of their HIV status.
3.1.6 Catholic FM Radio relies on volunteers, mainly youths, working on a non contractual basis. However, the station shall at all times respect the volunteers’ human rights and pay for their access to counseling whenever the need arises.
4.1 Catholic Radio FM recognises the sensitive nature of HIV and AIDS and shall undertake to ensure that all employees’ rights to privacy and dignity are respected, especially where employees do not choose to disclose their HIV status.
4.2 Where an employee elects to reveal his or her HIV status to a manager or supervisor, the Company will ensure that this information remains confidential.
5.1 As a Catholic radio station, Catholic Radio FM’s duty is to encourage the youth to choose celibacy or abstinence over the use of condoms and to delay sexual activity before marriage.
6.0 Voluntary Counseling and testing (VCT)
6.1 In line with the national policy, catholic Radio FM shall encourage all employees to join the Know Your Status Campaign (KYS) to ensure access medication provided for according to The Employment Act (as amended) if they are HIV positive.
6.2 In encouraging employees to join the Know Your Status campaign, Catholic Radio FM acknowledges and respects the right of individual employees to their privacy and shall not force any of them to participate.
7.0 Awareness raising and education
7.1 Catholic Radio FM will carry out awareness campaigns targeted at its employees to ensure they have accurate and appropriate information on HIV and AIDS.
7.2 Such awareness and education campaigns will carry components relating to the link between gender relations and the HIV and AIDS that have been identified as a major driver of the pandemic.
7.3 Catholic Radio FM shall facilitate training and capacity building on HIV and AIDS to ensure accurate, balanced and professional coverage on the pandemic.
7.4 Catholic Radio FM will create a workplace HIV and AIDS task force to serve as the planning and implementing agency for the workplace policy.
7.5 Members of the taskforce will receive training on HIV and AIDS to ensure effective implementation of the workplace policy.
8.1 General programming
8.1.1 Catholic Radio FM shall, in light of this policy, realign its programming to ensure that it openly but respectfully discusses sex so as to capture sexual problems of youth and respond to them with knowledge and research from experts.
8.1.2 To that effect to sponsor a talk show targeted at the youth where they will write in to the station on problems they have and their letters are responded to on air during a call-in programme.
8.1.3 In line with its values and practice, Catholic Radio FM shall seek to maintain her identity as a Catholic Christian Radio and Television Station, i.e., to encourage its employees and listeners alike to adhere to high levels of morality by avoiding drugs, alcohol abuse and premarital sex which are some of the major drivers of HIV transmission.
8.1.4 Catholic Radio FM shall ensure that it is at the center of messaging that assists youth to cope in compliance with Catholic Christian principles that prevent young people from the sin of multiple sexual partnerships and not to feel ashamed to voice these expectations and ideals for present day youth.
8.1.5 Catholic Radio FM shall also aim, through its programming and outreach programmes, to contribute to the creation of a Young Christian Movement for both men and women.
8.2 Quantity of coverage
8.2.1 Catholic Radio FM shall aim to produce at least one gender aware HIV and AIDS news item daily.
8.2.2 In view of the findings of the HIV and AIDS and Gender Baseline Study (2005), indicating that there was low and shallow coverage of HIV and AIDS and its gender dimensions, Catholic Radio FM shall seek to increase the quantity and quality of stories on HIV and AIDS by:
8.2.3 At least once every month, Catholic Radio FM will select a theme for a day’s programming on an HIV and AIDS issue.
8.2.4 Catholic Radio FM will ensure that all members of staff have experience in covering HIV and AIDS by rotating them in producing stories on the pandemic every three months.
8.3 Topic treatment
8.3.1 Catholic Radio FM will ensure equitable distribution of HIV and AIDS topics from prevention, treatment, treatment and care in its coverage.
8.3.2 In light of the findings of the ender and Media Baseline Study, Catholic Radio FM will ensure that the gender dimensions underpinning the HV and AIDS pandemic with respect to treatment, prevention and care and how they affect women and men differently are given qualitative attention.
8.4.1 The radio station shall ensure equal access for both women and men to ensure balance in sourcing patterns for its news stories and current affairs programming.
8.4.2 Catholic Radio FM will ensure that women and men, and especially women caring for the sick are given a voice in its news stories and current affairs programmes.
8.4.3 Catholic Radio FM will build a database of contacts for women living positively such as the International Community of HIV positive women (ICW) to be used in accessing sources of PLWA.
8.4.4 Catholic Radio FM will create an atmosphere of openness at the station by encouraging and inviting women and men to feel free to come to the station and tell their own story in order to give hope to others.
8.5.1 Catholic Radio FM shall use friendly, non-threatening and non-discriminatory language in order to avoid stereotyping on the basis of one’s serostatus or gender.
8.5.2 Catholic Radio FM’s language policy will aim to ensure that the radio station does not sensationalise HIV and AIDS but also shows how serious the pandemic is to its workers and audiences.
8.5.3 Catholic Radio FM will generate programme producers’ manuals to promote the use of appropriate language when reporting HIV and AIDS and its gender dimensions.
9.0 Management system
9.1 The Catholic Radio FM station manager shall be the point person for the implementation of all aspects of the policy.
9.2 The manager shall also be responsible for tabling the policy before the board and oversee its incorporation into the Constitution of the Station.
9.3 The task team that facilitated the drafting of the policy shall be responsible for the monitoring and evaluation of the policy and ensure that resources are provided for its implementation.
9.4 The training of the station manager and the news editor shall be prioritised to ensure that they are able to oversee the implementation of the action plan.
10.0 Monitoring and evaluation:
10.1 Every three months, there will be a quarterly review of the policy that will, wherever possible include the MAP facilitator for Lesotho.
10.2 This policy shall be reviewed at the end of each year or as and when it is necessary.