What does it take to improve health for women and girls?

We can improve the health and well-being
of women and girls by including sexual and reproductive health and rights advocacy
or comprehensive sexuality education in the curriculum of schools. So, it has to
be primary school, junior high school or senior high school, but we just need to
include it in our curriculum. We can improve health and well-being for girls,
if we can address it with education. And I’m not just talking about
education for girls it’s about education for everyone. Because part of the issue
is stigma around HIV, and the best way to combat stigma is making sure that people
who are stigmatizing are educated around it, because that is where stigma comes
from. It’s a place of ignorance. For girls and women’s health, we need safe space for
them. We need education, because through education, they understand the importance of
nutrition, vaccination, testing, and not being ashamed or have any disease that
they can’t talk about. We have to empower them in the way that they know that their health is their responsibility. They are agents of change. It really is important that we offer women more options to prevent HIV. And what it
boils down to, is that we need to give women choice. Because when we give people
choice, they have freedom, and they have power. And when we give a woman something
like oral PrEP, which is completely within her control, then we know she has
the power to protect herself. So DREAMS just stands for determined,
resilient, empowered, aids-free, mentored and safe young women. And in order to do
that we really realized we had to listen to the lives and address the issues that
young women were facing, and then create mentorships. Mentorships with adults,
mentorships with family, mentorships with the community, but critically, peer-to-peer led mentorships, and I think that’s been the real breakthrough in DREAMS is
having DREAMS ambassadors that are really leading the work and really
providing that glue in their community, and advocating for young women and
changing their lives and their health. Mentoring is very, very important to the
health of adolescent girls and young women, especially in humanitarian
settings. When people that design programs engage with the adolescent girls
themselves, to ask them what their needs are, and how
they want that need met, and lastly why do they need to be mentored.

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