Liyema Somnono

- Fellow

Liyema is a gender and human rights activist involved in the Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored and Safe (DREAMS) Partnership and other programs seeking to empower women and girls in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. Liyema is a member of the Eastern Cape Aids Council Women’s Sector and is a Bachelor of Law (LLB) graduate from Nelson Mandela University.

In Their Own Words

My advocacy project aims to promote access to HIV prevention services for adolescent girls and young women living in hard-to-reach rural areas in the Eastern Cape. This includes access to information about new developments in HIV prevention such as injectable PrEP and the dapivirine vaginal ring (DVR). To achieve this, I recruited and trained 10 young women (HIV Prevention Ambassadors) to conduct community-led monitoring (CLM) of HIV prevention and family planning services in Alfred Nzo. In addition, my project has focused on addressing structural barriers such as the criminalization of sex work in South Africa. Through the CLM I managed to collect and analyze valuable data on challenges in accessing services from over 820 young people and 60 female sex workers living in rural areas. I have used this to inform advocacy on oral PrEP injectable PrEP and the DVR at the provincial and national levels. In advancing the efforts to decriminalize sex work, I had a successful consultation on the importance of decriminalizing sex work with the commissioner of the Commission for Gender Equality and her delegates. Decriminalization is a long game so this advocacy journey has just begun.



Get in Touch

If you have any questions about the Fellows Program, or would like to reach out to a Fellow (current or alumni), e-mail us at