August 20, 2012

Press Release

Women’s rights activists and researchers meet Minister of Health to discuss crisis in women’s health

The Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, has accepted an invitation to join women’s health researchers and activists to discuss the crisis in women’s health in South Africa (SA). The Minister, researchers and activists will outline possible policy solutions to address the crisis.

Agenda, the feminist journal based in Durban, celebrating its 25th year, will be holding a feminist dialogue to launch issue 92 “The politics of women’s health in South Africa”.  The journal will hold a video conference on August 22nd inPretoria,Durban andCape Town jointly with the Human Sciences Research Council to discuss  the issue.  The special issue of the journal has been guest edited by Mandisa Mbali and Sethembiso Mthembu.

Research published in the Agenda issue highlights critical women’s health issues, including:


  • The high incidence and prevalence of HIV and cervical cancer in women;
  • Forced and coerced sterilisation of HIV-positive women;
  • High rates of maternal mortality in SA.


Speaking on behalf of both guest editors Sethembiso Mthembu says that ‘At the launch we will argue that the National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme represents a critical opportunity to improve women’s health in SA – provided that the specific health needs of women are thoroughly considered by the government when it designs the scheme’.  They will also call for the Department of Health to develop a gender-progressive, comprehensive sexual and reproductive health policy.

The editors urge the Department of Health to address the high rates of cervical cancer among HIV-positive women in SA and for policy on the issue to be aligned with internationally accepted approaches endorsed by the World Health Organisation and Centers for Disease Control.

Other invited speakers to the launch of the special issue will include:  Barbara Klugman and Kathathso Makoetle who will describe the formation of a national organisation Sexual and Health Rights Initiative (SHARISA); and, Marlise Richter and Pamela Chakuvinga who will discuss evidence-based advocacy for the decriminalisation of sex work.

The media are invited to attend. Please see venue details in the Invitation (below).


For comment please contact:

Sethembiso Mthembu (082 628 2746); Mandisa Mbali (071 953 0149); Lou Haysom (031) 304 7001/2.



Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi

Janine Hicks, Agenda and the Commission for Gender Equality

Vasu Reddy, HSRC and Agenda

Sethembiso Mthembu (Her Rights Initiative) and Mandisa Mbali (UniversityofStellenbosch) (Guest Editors)

Marlise Richter and Pamela Chakuvinga, Barbara Klugman and Khatatso Makoetle (contributors in Agenda journal)


Venues in Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town (Videoconferencing facilities: see below)

Date: 22 August 2012

Time: 11H45 – 14H00


In celebrating 25 years of Feminist Publishing as a leading continental and internationally accredited journal, Agenda spotlights ‘Women’s Health’ in Women’s Month. There is a wide chasm between many women’s experiences of public sector health services which are of poor quality, inaccessible, provided in an unprofessional manner and the rights enshrined in our country’s constitution. HIV/AIDS and concomitant rises in maternal mortality are also at the centre of the crises in women’s health in South Africa. These crises are inspiring a new feminist scholarship and advocacy projects which shed light on the changing nature of the state and development policy in South Africa, as they affect women in our country. This seminar focuses on Agenda’s latest journal on Women’s Health to deepen and widen scholarly and activist conversations on women’s health issues in this country. Speakers will provide analysis and commentary in relation to well-documented issues such as maternal mortality and domestic violence, sex work and also bring to the fore new work on underexamined issues such as cervical cancer and coercive sterilization, especially as these affect women living with HIV.


Venue: HSRC Buildings Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban:

Cape Town : HSRC, 12th Floor, Plein Park Building (Opposite Revenue Office), Plein Street, Cape Town. Contact Jean Witten, Tel (021) 4668004, Fax (021) 461 0299, e-mail

Durban : First floor HSRC board room, 750 Francois Road, Ntuthuko Junction, Pods 5 and 6, Cato Manor, Contact Ridhwaan Khan, Tel (031) 242 5400, cell: 083 788 2786 e-mail

Pretoria : HSRC Video Conference, 1st floor HSRC Library Human Sciences Research Council, 134 Pretorius Street, Pretoria. Arlene Grossberg, Tel: (012) 302 2811, e-mail:

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