Supporting Girls to Fulfill their DREAMS
Cross-posted from U.S. Department of State
On the International Day of the Girl Child (October 11), the United States President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) stands beside girls to ensure that they reach their greatest potential.
Through the DREAMS public-private partnership, PEPFAR is committed to supporting girls to grow into Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored, and Safe young women. By meaningfully engaging and partnering with adolescent girls, their families, and communities, PEPFAR helps set the stage for brighter futures.
To date, DREAMS has supported 2.5 million adolescent girls and young women with critical comprehensive HIV prevention interventions. In 10 African countries, over 60 percent of the highest-HIV-burden communities or districts implementing DREAMS achieved a greater than 25 percent decline in new HIV diagnoses among young women from 2015-2017.
In line with this year's International Day of the Girl Child theme – "With Her: A Skilled GirlForceExit Disclaimer" – a critical component of DREAMS is ensuring that girls are placed on a trajectory of economic independence through education, financial literacy, preparation for the job market, and entrepreneurship. DREAMS provides girls with education subsidies to support their transition to secondary school and graduation, which both increases their chances of pursuing advanced education and/or gainful employment, while also protecting them from HIV.
DREAMS beneficiaries are collaborating in savings groups and entrepreneurial activities to develop new skills and earn incomes to save and invest in their families and communities. Ideally, the layering of interventions supports girls in charting their own paths with positive health outcomes and increased self-efficacy. Girls are also linked to sustainable employment opportunities through the DREAMS Innovation Challenge.
Kenya is one of the 15 countries where DREAMS now works. In Kenya, the African Centre for Women, Information & Communications Technology is implementing a demand-driven, skills-building employability program aimed at improving employment prospects and income-generating capacities of disadvantaged girls ages 19-24 from low-income households. The young women are equipped with technical, life and business skills, online work, financial literacy and coding skills, and HIV education, coupled with job placements support. More than half of the beneficiaries have been placed into jobs or entrepreneurship ventures.
DREAMS is supporting millions of girls to write their own stories. In Kenya, several DREAMS girls got together to tell theirs, creating a video that shows what DREAMS is all about.
About the Author: Ambassador Deborah L. Birx, M.D. is U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and U.S. Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy.