Initiated by the National Network of Women Living with HIV — also known as the Femfatales — the National Day of Women Living with HIV Australia, first held in 2016, is purposely placed on the calendar to coincide with International Women’s Day on 8 March.
“We felt it important to have a connection with the existing events and activities surrounding International Women's Day,” said Femfatales chair, Kath Leane. “This long-established event acts as an opportunity to increase both the visibility and the profile of HIV for women and girls worldwide.”
The idea of a domestic awareness day was flagged due to concerns that Australian women are often unaware or uneducated about the realities of HIV. “While in Australia women represent approximately 10 percent of the positive population, we did not want to witness this number increase in any way,” said Leane. “Femfatales want to open doors and start conversations so that all women have an opportunity to increase their knowledge and awareness about HIV.
The initial aim of an Australian day for positive women was to recognise the diversity of those who live with HIV: mothers, daughters, sisters, friends, work colleagues. The hope is that the event will continue to increase the visibility of all women living with HIV in Australia —women who often live in silence or secrecy due to HIV-related stigma and discrimination.
This 9 March, the Femfatales encourage positive women across Australia to hold an awareness event to mark the National Day of Women Living with HIV Australia; it could be a breakfast, a brunch, a morning or afternoon tea, a picnic, lunch or dinner. “Whatever the occasion,” said Leane, “use it to celebrate, advocate, inspire and empower.”