Realising Rights

© Gemma Taylor for Frontline AIDS

Realising Rights existed to connect people who are typically marginalised and stigmatised in Namibia, to health services.

In Namibia, hostility – in many forms – makes it difficult for men who have sex with men (MSM) and sex workers to access health services. A consequence of this is that more and more people who are part of these marginalised groups are being diagnosed with HIV.

‘Realising Rights: connecting key populations to health services and their communities’ began by asking MSM and sex workers to identify what changes they think were needed to make accessing health services easier. Such changes included:

  • Access to HIV information so that MSM and sex workers can protect themselves.
  • Access to services so that MSM and sex workers can prevent and treat HIV.
  • Access to knowledge and support so that MSM and sex workers can overcome internalised stigma.
  • Access to knowledge for communities to create a supportive environment for marginalised people.

Creating sustained change requires people at all levels of society to be reached so that it’s a collective effort. That’s why Realising Rights worked with three society groups: individuals themselves, the organisations that exist to provide support, and healthcare workers and local leaders.

Each of these groups were reached by activities that were based on the ‘Looking In Looking out” approach. This methodology guides individuals and groups through a process of personalisation and increased self-agency, leading to common voice and action so that participants feel, and are, part of the change that is needed.

A key highlight of Realising Rights was the learning and exchange visit that took place between the sex worker and MSM groups in Namibia, SWEAT in South Africa, and the involvement of the sex worker and MSM group in Namibia in the We Are ONE campaign.

Why we did it

We implemented Realising Rights because marginalised people in Namibia can truly benefit from increased connections to their communities and health care.

Where we did it

Realising Rights was implemented in Namibia, where we worked with MSM in Windhoek, Walvis Bay and Oshakati, and sex workers in Windhoek, Walvis Bay and Oshikango.


Realising Rights has:

  • Reached over 3,000 people of which nearly 1,500 have increased their knowledge and awareness on HIV and know how to protect themselves and their partners.
  • Referred 300 MSM and sex workers to HIV core services.
  • Reduced stigma in 138 leaders and front line workers against marginalised groups.
  • Reduced stigma in 1,500 family and friends of sex workers and MSM.

Realising Rights was implemented by our partner in Namibia, Positive Vibes, and funded by Comic Relief.

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