That first job?
The excitement of matriculating out of high school can soon become a “what next?” dilemma for many young women. This is even more difficult for those who were not successful in their examinations. The DTHF in collaboration with the Department of Health and the Global Fund have sought to address this, through theRise Economic Strengthening Programme, whichwas initiatedin 2018. The aim of the programme was to provide a platform where young women 18-24 yrs could receive training tailored to their needs for that next step. Would confidence in their ability to provide for themselves be a game changer in the number of young people contracting HIV? We hoped so.
The programme offered a standard training package of twelve sessions in which all participants had to engage. One of these specifically dealt with sexual and reproductive health issues and HIV. On successful completion candidates were offereda choice of four training streams:
- Basic Education
- Further Education
416 young women enrolled into the programme in 2018, of which 181 went on to complete the additional training streams. We are proud to report that through this programme to date 51 young women are now in employment, 15 have enrolled for matric support and will rewrite matric examinations in November 2019, 8 enrolled for a literary and numeracy course, 2 for finishing school, 30 were awarded bursaries for higher education, and 7 participants have approved business plans and were awarded seed funding to start small businesses. All seven businesses are now active.
In addition many were assisted in obtaining IDs and opening a savings account. Responses from participants has been encouraging. One participant said, “The ESP has changed my life and gave me hope and confidence. I am now employed in a job which I love.” Another one reported that“My journey with ESP has been amazing. I never thought I would be the woman I am today. Joining ESP was the best choice I have made.”
If this is to be the generation that ends HIV, then we need HIV prevention strategies that are aimed at empowering young women to become financially independent and able to negotiate their lives on their own terms.