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&Me: Spotlighting Gina Brown

April 20, 2018

Inspired by our “Feminists&Me” tee, the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) continues its “Spotlight on Feminists” series by highlighting and honoring individuals who work to make a difference every day through our “&Me” series of interviews. NNEDV previously honored the women featured in this design: Sojourner Truth & Susan B. Anthony bell hooks Gloria Steinem & Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Read the rest of our &Me series here.

NNEDV: First, tell us about yourself – who are you and what do you do? 

Gina Brown: My name is Gina Brown; I am a mother, grandmother, and Woman living with HIV for the last 24 years. I am a Community Organizer with the Southern AIDS Coalition. I provide trainings through our Leadership, Education, and Advocacy Development Academy (LEAD Academy) to Women LEADers (a play on our academy) in a three-part training. I am also a Community Advisory Board Member at The Well Project.

NNEDV: What are you currently working on related to nonviolence and/or gender equality? 

GB: I am working on bringing the issue of violence into the HIV conversation by telling my story. In telling my story I give other women the courage to tell their stories. I am trying to remove the stigma that keeps so many of us in unhealthy, violent relationships. When I speak on my HIV, I also speak about the abuse I endured at the hands of my children’s father.

I am a member of a workgroup called Women’s Research Initiative on HIV/AIDS, where I advocate the inclusion of women in research. In the HIV community, women are almost 30 percent of the HIV epidemic, yet, we account for a very small sample size. Women who are living with HIV must take the same medications that in some cases have only been studied on men (or in some cases a few women). I look around the HIV community and I see very few women in leadership positions.

NNEDV: What inspired you to do this work? What inspires you to continue it? 

GB: I’ve always had a desire to help others. Growing up I was the girl who was friends with EVERYONE; I’ve rarely met a stranger, and most people I meet become friends. Early in my HIV journey I met three women, all Peer Advocates at the non-profit for women, infants, children, and youth. They were always at the clinic; they babysat the kids while we were being seen by our doctors, advocated for us, and taught us about HIV. I vowed after my first encounter with them that, if ever given an opportunity, I would use my voice to help others. I continue doing this work because Women of Color are still contracting HIV. I continue doing this work because there are not enough of us (women) at decision-making tables. I continue doing this work because I love the community of beautiful people that I’m blessed to work for and with!

NNEDV: Let’s say you woke up this morning and gender-based violence had been completely eradicated. What are you going to do now? 

GB: Now I dig in and fight for the end to income inequalities. Women still make less than men; for every $1.00 a man makes, a woman makes $0.70. My life would be all about ensuring that two people of different genders receive the same pay for doing the same job. I am a Feminist; my job will not be done until there’s equality across the board and in all aspects of life!

NNEDV: If you could sit down over your beverage of choice with any person – living or dead – who would it be and why?

GB: I would sit down with Harriet Tubman, over a glass of iced tea. I think Ms. Tubman was the most fearless woman to ever live. She not only escaped slavery, but she returned numerous times to lead her family and friends to freedom. She had amazing strength and courage!

To learn more about the intersection of domestic violence and HIV/AIDS, visit NNEDV’s Positively Safe project and download free resources from the Positively Safe DV & HIV/AIDS Toolkit.