2001• Journalism & Activism Award

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Charlene Smith, the recipient of this year’s Journalism and Activism Award, has won much acclaim as a freelance journalist who specializes in politics, economics and human rights issues. She has expertise in television, radio and print and has authored four books.

Charlene became well-known as a journalist, beginning at the age of 17 when she reported on the 1976 Soweto uprising, the dead bodies and the intense emotions it stirred. “It instilled in me an anger so acute against apartheid that I never stopped going into townships and writing about injustice,” she wrote recently.

Charlene became famous as an activist in the fight against sexual violence and HIV. “I didn’t keep quiet under apartheid and I won’t be silent now” she says of her campaign to make drugs and support available to AIDS victims, especially pregnant or young mothers. Charlene works voluntarily with rape survivors and people with HIV.

She initiated a website for rape survivors, those with HIV and for legal and medical practitioners in those fields (www.speakout. org.za).

A speaker at the Durban World AIDS conference (2000) Charlene has also influenced changes to guidelines, activism, research, counselling and laws concerning sexual violence and HIV in countries as diverse as South Africa, Namibia, Singapore, USA, Canada , France, Kenya and Britain, among others.

Her work has influenced access to anti-retrovirals for rape survivors in South Africa, Namibia and the USA; her work influenced changes in the guidelines issued by the Center for Disease Control in the USA; it has influenced the development of the Bristol Meyer Secure the Future programme around sexual violence and HIV in five southern African countries.

Her work has led to the establishment of rape insurance policies that focus not on monetary payouts but on the healing of the rape survivor (and her family) and access to anti-retrovirlas after the rape and managed HIV care if necessary.

Her work now is focussed on changing attitudes towards women, on educating South African society and doing away with the myths and ignorance that propagate disease, violence and crime.

South African Women for Women is proud to recognize Charlene Smith’s efforts in making her much-loved country safer and healthier for women and children and a better, more civilized, place for all.