DREAMS Innovation Challenge
In July 2016, ACWICT was announced as a winner of the DREAMS Innovation Challenge, which is funded by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR); the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Girl Effect, Johnson & Johnson, Gilead Sciences, and ViiV Healthcare. DREAMS stands for Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored, and Safe. The focus of DREAMS is working together for an AIDS-free future for girls and women. The award is managed by JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc.
“When a young woman is socially and economically empowered, she is safe from HIV infections!”
About Vusha Girls Employability Program
The ‘Vusha Girls Employability Program is a workforce development program that seeks to improve employment prospects and income generating capacities of 1,000 high potential but disadvantaged young women aged 19-24 years from low-income house-holds in Kisumu and Nairobi counties of Kenya, and decrease their risk for transactional sex work and HIV infection.
This is achieved through equipping the young women participating in the program with ICT (digital literacy, coding skills); online work (Micro Work); Life skills (for day-to-day life, for the workplace and healthcare planning); entrepreneurship and financial literacy skills and one vocational skill/trade of their choice selected from 8 vocational skills/trades customized for the program. In addition, the young women will be trained on HIV transmission and associated risk factors as well as voluntary counselling and testing methods.
Towards the end of their training, participants are required to form groups and brainstorm on business case solutions they would develop in their respective groups including identifying a business/company name, developing presentation for companies in readiness for presentation before judges in a plenary session. Based on their business/company solution, the participants will be required to develop a mobile/web based application to support their business idea. The group work and business case solution development will enhance their foundational problem-solving, creativity, and teamwork skills that will help them succeed and stay competitive as they strive to achieve their life goals and advance in different career pathways to become problem solvers and decision makers of our next generation.
Upon completion of training, the young women will undergo a mandatory two weeks practical training in VCT centers to gain real life experience in Voluntary Counselling and Testing services before being placed in jobs/internship/apprenticeship and/or entrepreneurship opportunities. It is expected that at least 80% of the young women trained will be placed into jobs/internships/apprenticeship/entrepreneurship/online work upon completion of training.
The project targets young women living and working on the fishing bays of Lake Victoria in Kisumu and those from the informal settlements of Nairobi. The young women will be at their transition point from high school/vocational/tertiary education to the world of work.
According to the National Aids Control Council (NACC), 88,620 new HIV infections occurred among adults in 2013. Of the new adult HIV infections, 21% occur among young women aged 15-24 every year. Prevalence estimates by county show that Kisumu and Nairobi counties in which the Vusha Girls Employability program will be implemented are among the ten counties in Kenya with the highest prevalence rates. The study also shows that the burden of HIV is higher on women than on men in both counties. In Kisumu County for instance, the report indicates that women account for 20.6% HIV infection while men account for only17.8%. For Nairobi County, the report indicates that women account for 8.4% prevalence rate while men account for only 5.3%. Extreme house-hold poverty and lack of economic livelihoods, deprivation of material resources such as housing, food and healthcare and a desire for fashionable goods, high unemployment rates and lack of employable skills coupled with lack of information /knowledge on HIV transmission and associated risk factors are the main causes to the souring HIV prevalence rate among young women in Kisumu and Nairobi counties. The Vusha Girls Employability solution is designed to provide a bridge to employment to these young women. It is a demand-driven skills building program that builds the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that young women need to obtain and participate in productive work. The innovation recognizes that availability and accessibility to employment opportunities, whether formal or informal can be critical factors in deterring young women from transactional sex work and significantly decrease their exposure risk to HIV. Indeed employment is the surest way for the young women to achieve their financial independence and shun away from using sex as currency or tolerate sexual infidelity all together and gain pathways out of poverty.
- Young women aged 19 -24yrs
- Out of school for at least 1yr, and currently unemployed.
- Living in the informal settlements of Nairobi, Kisumu & L. Victoria shores areas.
The program fast tracks young women career goals by providing:
- Digital literacy,
- Coding skills
- Online work skills
- Financial literacy and Entrepreneurship,
- Life skills (including HIV education) and
- 1 Vocational course.
Our training cycles last for only 3 months, equipping target beneficiaries with the 21st century skills highly relevant for them to succeed in both business and world of work which keeping them safe from HIV infections.
“When a young woman is social and economically empowered, she is safe from HIV infections!”
What next after training?
Vusha Girls provides its beneficiaries with job placement support so that they continue to enjoy skill empowerment, and take pride in becoming part of the workforce.
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