“It (Gender Based Violence – GBV) is a social issue that must engage, involve and mobilise the whole of society. We must be prepared, as government, to acknowledge where we have failed our people. Where we have made mistakes, we will correct them.” With this quote of President Cyril Ramaphosa about GBV, Amy Green closes her article about the She Conquers and DREAMS projects.
Amy’s article is a good read.
It left me with a question: Will a focus on this most vulnerable segment of our communities on its own lead to a decrease of HIV infections and teen pregnancies?
A visit to the She Conquers website gave a few answers. Yes, there is indeed much that can be done to support young girls and women. The information made available through this website is commendable. I applaud every effort to help girls to stay in school and to find a job!
However, will this effort in itself be a game-changer in the HIV epidemic?
Can the trajectory of the HIV epidemic be changed through a focus on young women and girls alone?
Just as the whole of society needs to be mobilised to change the situation of Gender Based Violence, the whole of society needs to be part of the solution to the HIV epidemic.
The statement, “young women aged 12 to 24 bear the burden of the current HIV epidemic”, has a logical counterpart: Men take advantage of the vulnerability of young women aged 12 to 24.
If we want to change the fact that there are still 2 000 new HIV infections every week amongst young women and girls in South Africa, we need to also engage men.
Follow these links to read more about how CHABAHIVA Trust engages with women as well as men: https://www.chabahiva.org/hiv-youth-peer-educators-project/ and https://www.chabahiva.org/boland-farms-hiv-peer-educators/.
You are welcome to respond on the CHABAHIVA Trust Facebook page.