The organization was started by a handful of women who were infected and affected with HIV, most of whom were widows. The changing political context, the emergence of HIV/AIDS and persistent poverty led to circumstances which drove this group of women to begin meeting rotationally at each other’s homes in Chirimba, Blantyre.
Prior to 1994, when Malawi was under a one-party system, individuals could not demonstrate personal accumulation of wealth without arousing suspicion among government officials. Consequently, immense restrictions were placed on building homes and purchasing personal property. Once the multi-party system was introduced in 1994, people began exercising their freedom to build larger homes and amass personal property. However, during this period, men began dying in large numbers for reasons that were unknown at the time. Many women became widows, lost their source of economic support and were accused of killing their husbands as a means of accumulating their wealth. This was a difficult time for women as they fell victim to verbal attacks, property grabbing and violence from family and community members. Women began meeting regularly to support one another through the psychological, social and economic hardships they were facing. With time, the concerned women decided to establish Women for Fair Development (WOFAD) on Juy 18th, 2005 in order to begin improve their own lives.
Since its inception in 2005, WOFAD has grown considerably and services a range of needs among WLHIV in the surrounding communities.
Goals of WOFAD
The two main goals of WOFAD are to:
- Work towards ending discrimination based on gender and HIV status
- Empower women by strengthening their socioeconomic status and providing them with the knowledge and skills needed to live a sustainable and healthy life.
Objectives of WOFAD
- Advocate for women and children’s rights
- Improve the living standards of women and girls infected and affected by HIV and AIDS through social and economic empowerment
- Reduce stigma and discrimination faced by women and girls living with HIV and AIDS (WLHIV)
- Engage in behavior change and communication efforts that will help reduce HIV infections
- Work towards environmental regeneration, conserving clean water and promoting sanitation through promoting permaculture knowledge and skills
- To build institutional capacity of WOFAD
- To provide education and support to marginalized children and orphans through Community Based Child Care Centres