US, Germany partner to empower young women in Zambia

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The U.S. government’s Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored and Safe (DREAMS) initiative has produced 20,000 face masks, more than 4,400 packets of reusable sanitary napkins and 4,000 cloth bags on demand and for purchase by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.

GIZ placed the order through the Strengthening Girls’ Rights! A German-funded program, which aims to ensure that young people in Zambia are better able to protect themselves against HIV, teenage pregnancy and gender-based violence. Produced by the young women of the DREAMS initiative, the nearly 30,000 fabric products were distributed along with COVID-19 support kits for adolescents and young people, which also contained disinfectants, soap and information. about health.

Supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the DREAMS initiative serves as a model for sustainable programs by focusing on focus on financial literacy and economic empowerment of Zambia’s most vulnerable adolescent girls. and young women. DREAMS also addresses the widespread challenge of female students missing school due to the lack of affordable menstrual hygiene products.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. government equipped 40 DREAMS centers in five provinces with sewing machines and supplies and trained young women in the program to make and sell reusable and affordable sanitary napkins in their communities. In response to COVID-19, women have adapted their sewing skills to make and sell the sheet masks both within their communities and to others.

A total of 4,450 support kits were handed over to the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health for distribution to schools and youth-friendly health facilities in six districts. Sixty schools and 62 health facilities were also supported with PPE, hygiene products and health information materials. On November 18, 250 adolescent girls and young women registered with the DREAMS initiative completed delivery of this order, while the first kits were delivered on December 1 in commemoration of World AIDS Day.

When the German government provided additional funds to GIZ for strengthening girls’ rights! COVID-19 control program, the program decided to use the funds to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on young people’s access to information and services on HIV and sexual and reproductive health. In addition, GIZ wanted to ensure that the funds would flow back to the community and contribute to the economic empowerment of young women in Zambia. In the cooperatives initiated by the DREAMS initiative, they found the right partner. The GIZ shipment generated a turnover of over 850,000 ZMW, all of which went directly to the young women hired through DREAMS. Among other things, this income has strengthened their ability to invest in savings groups, pay school fees, provide for basic needs for themselves and their families and to supplement income lost due to the pandemic. .

The DREAMS initiative is active in 14 districts in seven provinces in Zambia, and in 2021, the US government invested more than $ 30 million in DREAMS programs across the country. To learn more, visit https://zm.usembassy.gov/our-relationship/pepfar/dreams-zambia and USAID.gov/global-health-dreams.

GIZ strengthens the rights of girls! The program is active in 6 districts of three provinces in Zambia. To find out more visit: Responding to the ‘triple threat’ of HIV, teenage pregnancy and gender-based violence (giz.de).

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of the United States Embassy in Zambia.

Mara R. Wilmoth