FIDA-Ghana, under its access to property and inheritance rights project, would provide legal aid to 100 HIV positive women, mostly members of the Association of Persons Living with HIV and AIDS.
The Projects Manager of FIDA-Ghana, Mr. Bawa Faisal, who announced this at a day's refresher training workshop for their partners in Sunyani, added that 800 community members in target areas would be well informed on the legal rights of women infected and affected with HIV and AIDS, in order to enhance their understanding, and called for support from all stakeholders to make the project a success.
It has been observed that a large number of women living with HIV and AIDS have no access to their property and heritance owing to stigma and discrimination, as well as illiteracy and poverty.
Women living with HIV and AIDS lack secure rights, and this has grave implications, not only on their own safety and treatment, but also on their families.
In order to reverse the situation, FIDA-Ghana, with funding from UN Women, is currently implementing a project aimed at Increasing Access to Property and Inheritance rights of women living with HIV and AIDS in Ghana.
The overall objective of the one year project is to address the structural inequalities that make it difficult for HIV positive women to access their property and inheritance rights.
The towns benefiting from the project are Sunyani and Wenchi in the Brong-Ahafo Region, Agormanya in the Eastern Region, and Ho in the Volta Region.
The Projects Assistant of FIDA-Ghana, Benedicta Laryea, noted that loss of shelter and livelihoods experienced by women living with HIV and AIDS could push them into a vortex of destitution and marginalisation, intensified vulnerability to HIV and AIDS, while enhancing intergenerational poverty.
According to her, during the dissemination of the findings of an earlier research by her outfit in 2007 on legal challenges of women infected or affected by HIV and AIDS, some of the emerging issues were ignorance of basic laws concerning marriage and property rights.
Ms. Laryea continued that even though there existed in law protection for women's property and inheritance rights under the PNDC Law 111, in practice, women and girls were still discriminated against, explaining that upon the death of the male spouse, the women and their families are discriminated against in the distribution of property.
She pointed out that although Ghana had reaffirmed its commitment to a comprehensive HIV and AIDS response that includes protecting People Living with HIV and AIDS, and signatory to a number of international and regional conventions, as well as declaration on HIV and AIDS, there were several policy concerns that needed to be considered at the national level, regarding the protection of property and inheritance rights of women with HIV and AIDS.
Ms. Laryea said FIDA-Ghana recognised that property-related conflicts were fuelled by a mixture of several forces such as patriarchal attitudes, biased gender norms, and unequal power relations.
FIDA-Ghana, she noted, was seeking support to build on existing works and continue to provide support to infected and affected women, whilst expanding its work on policy makers and gender experts to tackle the gender inequities in a coordinated manner.