New award honours women working for gender and reproductive justice

Sunday, 22 July 2018 (Amsterdam, the Netherlands)  — The International AIDS Society (IAS) will present the premiere Prudence Mabele Prize to Duduzile (Dudu) Dlamini at the 22nd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2018) in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Dlamini, a long-time advocate for the rights and health of sex workers, is the founder of Mothers for the Future (M4F), a network striving to reverse the factors that make sex workers and their families particularly vulnerable to stigma, discrimination and HIV. She is also an ambassador for The Coalition for Children Affected by AIDS.

The Prudence Mabele Prize aims to promote global attention to the remarkable work of gender justice and health equity activists. The $25,000 cash award, endowed by the Ford Foundation and the Open Society Foundations in partnership with the Positive Women’s Network of South Africa, is the largest monetary prize ever given at an International AIDS Conference.

“Duduzile (Dudu) Dlamini is helping change the future for sex workers in South Africa,” IAS President Linda-Gail Bekker said. “Her work truly embodies the values, spirit and activism of Prudence Mabele.”

As part of the Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Task Force (SWEAT), Dlamini has worked tirelessly to protect the health and human rights of the often abused and overlooked sex worker’s community. With her vision and leadership, M4F has grown from an informal support network into a powerful social welfare system for mothers who are sex workers throughout South Africa.

In 1992, Prudence Mabele became the first black woman in South Africa to publicly reveal her HIV-positive status. A trailblazer for the rights of women and people living with HIV, Mabele helped found the Treatment Action Campaign and the Positive Women’s Network before her death in 2017. The new prize, endowed in her honour, recognizes and celebrates those who carry on the fight in her name.

Duduzile Dlamini said, “I am honoured to receive this recognition, named for a great South African activist who spoke truth to power, on behalf of all of the women and families we serve at M4F.

“I know their struggles first-hand, and have seen how abuse of sex workers by governments, police, health systems and other institutions has made sex workers and their children exceptionally vulnerable to HIV, poverty and exploitation. We also know that sex workers united are a powerful force for health and social justice. This recognition advances that march toward justice for all the women and children we serve.”

The Prudence Mabele Prize will be awarded a high-level special session honouring the life and work of the award’s namesake in the Amsterdam RAI Exhibition and Convention Centre on Thursday, 26 July, at 13:00.