Required Investment: $13,200

Project Description:  Given the high rate of new HIV infections among girls and young women, Global Camps Africa believes that educating girls and young women on their rights, providing them a safe place to discuss their challenges, and educating them about how to protect themselves from HIV infection or care for themselves if they are HIV-positive empowers them to make smart choices about their bodies and ultimately their futures. Bringing girls and young women together also encourages them to become agents of change as advocates for women’s rights within their communities.

The Imbokodo Program was successfully piloted between June 2016 and November 2016. The curriculum was implemented over 16 lessons, consisting of the following themes: Consent, Gender Norms, Negotiating Condom Use and Identifying Abuse in Relationships.  Program participants were also provided access to basic financial literacy and entrepreneurship training. Imbokodo club members were engaged in small groups of 20 by 2 young female facilitators.

To positively impact a larger number of girls and women most vulnerable HIV infection, GCA requires an investment of $13,200. This investment amount will ensure that additional facilitators receive appropriate training and the Imbokodo program is scaled up and rolled out at all 7 current Youth Clubs locations, thus empowering 300 young girls and women a year.

Project Goals:  Our Young Women’s Empowerment Program is called “Imbokodo,” a term that means “to strike a woman is to strike a rock.”  The name calls back to the anti-apartheid movement, when women mobilized to gain their rights. Our program aims to provide a safe space for girls and young women to learn about their rights and discuss the challenges they face in their communities as a result of discriminatory gender norms.  From those facilitated discussions come innovating solutions, and members of the Imbokodo Clubs are empowered to work together in their communities to bring change that will result in better access to healthcare, protection from gender-based violence, and improved educational and financial opportunities.

Duration of Project:  6 months (weekly sessions each Saturday for 6 months, including a pre-intervention and post-intervention evaluation)

Target Population Group:  Girls and young women (12-18 years old). Adolescent girls are up to eight times more likely to be infected with HIV than their male counterparts.   Young women are also less likely to be included in the formal financial sector, more likely to be the victims of gender-based violence, and less likely to complete their high-school education than their male counterparts.

Project Locations:   Our Imbokodo Clubs are located in township communities surrounding Johannesburg, South Africa, where the second highest number of AIDS orphans and people with AIDS defining conditions in South Africa reside.

Drivers of HIV infection Target Population Group:   Preventing HIV infection in children and youth is one of the key goals of Camp Sizanani and Youth Clubs.  In the target population reached by this project, five key drivers of HIV infection have been identified:

(1) being forced into sex;

(2) the low status of women and gender-based violence;

(3) having sex in exchange for financial and other material support (driven by poverty);

(4) intergenerational relationships - between older men and younger women; and

(5) inaccurate knowledge about HIV/AIDS.

Addressing the drivers of HIV among young women and girls is a major hurdle in the battle against HIV/AIDS around the world.  Young women are consistently left behind in the progress the global community has made against the spread of HIV. In sub-Saharan Africa, this has resulted in three out of four new HIV infections occurring in girls aged 15-19.  Young women aged 15-24 in sub-Saharan Africa are twice as likely to be living with HIV compared to men.  Global Camps Africa’s Imbokodo program takes on that challenge directly, providing safe spaces, evidence-based reproductive health and HIV/AIDS education, facilitated problem-solving discussions, access to financial literacy training, and structures to support community-based approaches, led by young women, to overcome institutional barriers to women’s health and success.

Impact to date: In 2017, 98 girls and young women completed the Imbokodo program.

Project Impact (projection):  Our goal is to scale this program up to reach 300 girls and young women in 2018-2019.