BACKGROUND: Persistent socio-economic vulnerabilities predispose adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) to acquire HIV, early pregnancy, early marriage, and gender-based violence (GBV) with AGYW 5 to 14 times more likely to be infected with HIV than their male peers in Sub-Saharan Africa (Pachena & Musekiwa, 2022). Among the 47% of young people reported to be unemployed in Zimbabwe, 56% are females disproportionately affected by a lack of education and technical training (ILO, 2019). To address these disparities, Family AIDS Caring Trust (FACT) adopted the Siyakha work-readiness model in Manicaland Province, Zimbabwe by layering onto the HIV prevention and sexual violence primary package curricula, linkages to clinical services (HTS, STI screening, family planning) and gender-based violence response.
DESCRIPTION: FACT Zimbabwe implemented the PEPFAR/USAID funded Support Maintain Advocate reduce Risk and Transform (SMART) Girls Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored, and Safe (DREAMS) program in Chipinge, Makoni and Mutare districts from COP21-COP22. During the two-year period of intervention, 1022 AGYW with limited- to- no formal education underwent comprehensive technical skills trainings, job-preparedness, social asset building, prevention of sexual abuse in the workplace, financial literacy, and entrepreneurship trainings. All AGYW were supported with start-up kits and safety equipment relevant to their trade of choice; and 75% of the AGYW took up trades in the typically male dominated fields of auto-electrics, motor mechanics, computer maintenance building, welding, solar & electrical installations, plumbing, tiling, carpentry, and horticulture and 866/1022 (80%) accessed formal internships.
LESSONS LEARNED: An outcome survey conducted in COP22 on the COP21 cohort indicated that 82% of the AGYW were able to establish viable group and individual enterprises , average income increased from USD $30.00 to $67.87, ranging from $15-$200 per month. A decrease in reliance on transactional sex, increased self-awareness and decision-making power in relationships were noted. Mentored vulnerable AGYW in Zimbabwe can break into male dominated fields of their choice in high potential growing sectors of the economy.
CONCLUSIONS: FACT will further include neo-business opportunities like digital marketing and drone flying. FACT will further scale-up and integrate the Siyakha model with community apprenticeship to ensure young mothers can access the services within proximity of their homes.