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In her PhD project Johanna Debora Imelda examines the strategy of mobilizing motherhood through two Indonesian women’s organizations – the Pembinaan Kesejahteraan Keluarga (Family Welfare Movement, or PKK) and Tim ODHA Perempuan (Seropositive Women’s Team, or TOP Support) – in the attempt to make prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) programs more socially acceptable.

Detail Summary
Date 17 October 2011
Time 16:00 - 17:00

In her PhD project Johanna Debora Imelda examines the strategy of mobilizing motherhood through two Indonesian women’s organizations – the Pembinaan Kesejahteraan Keluarga (Family Welfare Movement, or PKK) and Tim ODHA Perempuan (Seropositive Women’s Team, or TOP Support) – in the attempt to make prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) programs more socially acceptable.

Motherhood and HIV/AIDS are in fact seen as contradictory concepts. However, at a time when PMTCT programs are being promoted, the image of HIV is changing from the disease of ‘women without morals’ to a disease of devoted housewives, which has resulted in the better acceptance of HIV prevention programs in society.

The PKK is a formal government led community organization which is socially and politically structured from the very lowest level in the community up to the national level. The involvement of the PKK in maternal and child health programs has contributed to their image of being good housewives and responsible mothers, which has enabled the cadres to gain trust, especially from husbands, to allow them to bring pregnant women to participate in the mobile VCT service.

Unfortunately, PMTCT project is not considered of prime importance for the PKK cadres. The notion of ‘sacred motherhood’ enables TOP Support members to project an image of being devoted wives and mothers who were infected by their badly behaved husbands, and who therefore unfortunately (and unknowingly) transmitted the disease to their children. They rework their identity from one of sinful and immoral women to innocent and devoted mothers, and thus generate trust between other seropositive mothers and within the community.

The general lack of experience of severe symptoms and ease of access to medical care explains why TOP Support members do not actively champion PMTCT as part of the women’s reproductive health movement. In their involvement in the PMTCT pilot project, the PKK cadres and TOP Support members are able to convert the social capital derived from respected motherhood into social benefits and opportunities to access economic capital. These economic benefits lead the PKK cadres and TOP Support members to regard PMTCT more as an income generating activity rather than a part of the women’s reproductive health movement.

There are significant challenges to the promotion of programs such as PMTCT for women through motherist organizations as experienced by the Indonesian government. Firstly, what should be done to champion PMTCT effectively to be a program to fight HIV/AIDS instead of income generating program for mothers. Secondly, what should we do to include women such as teenagers, young and unmarried women, and women who are not pregnant; who are also the target of PMTCT. Thirdly, what strategy should be applied to address the role of men in transmitting the disease in order to prevent HIV transmission to babies and protect women from infection. Finally, what approach we have to do to attract Government’s support and commitment to maintain the sustainability of the program.


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