Home / News / Alicia Keys Launches South African HIV Program and Empowers Women: ”Until We’re in Those Rooms as Equally as Men Are, it Can’t Shift.”

Alicia Keys Launches South African HIV Program and Empowers Women: ”Until We’re in Those Rooms as Equally as Men Are, it Can’t Shift.”

—blogged by @lovelikejhoney

About 16 years ago, singer and songwriter #AliciaKeys took her first trip to South Africa as part of her participation in MTV’s HIV prevention and awareness charity concert. However, by the time she left, Keys felt an urge to do more for the country and gave new purpose for her life. “I really believe in a good humanity,” she continued. “The amount of people in this world who are here to do something great far outweighs the rest.”

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By 2003, the Grammy award-winning artist co-founded Keep A Child Alive—six charity centers throughout Africa that address the socioeconomic struggles of residents as well as the HIV epidemic. The charity serves 70,000 people annually. The programs focus on getting generic, affordable AIDS medications to needy populations while serving its mission to ensure “No new infections. No barriers to treatment. No discrimination.”

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Where the centers are located, young women are five times more likely to have HIV than young men. AIDS is the leading cause of death of women of reproductive age; a young woman becomes infected with HIV every minute. Keys wants to give these individuals control over their lives. “We know that when we empower women,” she said, “the entire community will change.”

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In 2012, Keys released “Girl on Fire” a single which turned out to symbolized women empowerment globally. Since then, the platinum-selling singer has vowed to stand against the social norms for women— i.e. a woman’s weight, shape, hair, and makeup. “..If you go to work without makeup, it’s like, Are you tired? You look tired. And it’s like, I’m not f—ing tired!” Keys exclaimed as she described her all natural transition. “That was one of the hardest things for me, in the beginning. I’d literally look at myself in the mirror like Yeah! That’s me! OK. Hi!” she laughed.

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However, physical appearance is just ONE of the many obstacles women bare. More recently is the uncovering of inequality within women working in the entertainment industry, also known as the #MeToo movement. Keys compared the movement to the women suffrage era in the late 1800s and expressed frustration to only have gotten so far. Harmony between genders matter to Keys:

“Until we’re in those rooms as equally as men are, it can’t shift,” she said passionately. “We have to infiltrate our industries. Period. We have to. That alone will shift the power balance.”

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And although Keys has no daughters of her own, she is instilling the importance of equality while raising her two sons Egypt and Genesis.

“I want [my sons] to grow up in a world where they’d never think boys are better than girls — or that black is better than white,” she reflected.

She wants them to grow up in a world where it doesn’t take “100 years” to effect important change.

About MsJennyb

Jen is a Writer and Content Curator for Baller Alert, who writes under the alias “MsJennyb.” In this role, Jen develops and contributes relevant special-themed content to attract readers. Before joining the Entertainment Industry via Baller Alert, Jen spent one year as a Freelance Writer and two years as a Human Resources assistant in a corporate office. Jen has a degree in Criminal Justice from Rutgers University with a concentration in Africana Studies. To contact Jen please email [email protected]

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