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
Our DREAMS Innovative Challenge solution is known as the Vusha Girls Employability Program.
The program provides a bridge to employment to the young women residing in the informal settlements of Kisumu and Nairobi counties and fishing areas in Kisumu.
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 soaring HIV prevalence rate among young women in Kisumu and Nairobi counties.
In Kenya, it is estimated that 750,000 young people enter the labor market annually yet only 15% get absorbed into formal employment sector leaving the rest of the youth cohorts (85%) to take up informal work and/or face the brunt of poverty. Further, of the 15% of the young people that get absorbed into the formal labor market, only 29% (32,625) are young women. This indicates that in Kenya unemployment is a youth challenge. Prolonged periods of unemployment expose young women to long lasting repercussions which affects their desire to lead a healthy and productive life. This is because to make ends meet many are pushed to indulge in societal ills and risky sexual behavior such as transactional sex which exposes them to HIV infections.
Reducing HIV infection through girls empowerment
- 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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