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What we do > MADaboutART > What we do > Taking back the Power

Taking back the Power

In South Africa, many cultural and social norms limit hopes and aspirations for girls and increase their vulnerability to HIV. This project reduces HIV risk through knowledge and financial empowerment

In South Africa girls and young women aged 15 to 24 are increasingly at risk of HIV infection. More than 2 000 girls contract HIV every week, with girls being four times more likely to contract HIV than their male counterparts. In MADaboutART's South African home town Knysna, around one in four young women attending antenatal services test HIV-positive

In South Africa, many cultural, behavioural and social practices limit hopes and aspirations for girls and lead to increasing vulnerability to HIV infection from early adolescence including:

•   low self-esteem, peer pressure and a sense of wanting to belong, which affect young people’s decision-making capacity

•   girls and young women tolerate risk and become involved in multiple and concurrent partnerships, use intoxicating substances and find       themselves victims of gender-based violence

•   usual for girls to be sexually active by age 11, risking infections and pregnancy as most debut without protection

•   inter-generational, transactional relationships driven by need (poverty) and consumerism (desire) are tolerated and frequently                 encouraged by peers and family

'Taking back the Power' creates a safe space for girls to explore sexual identity and risk-taking and identify ways to reduce vulnerability to HIV. The project is linked to MADaboutART’s social enterprise and under-pinned by a belief that young women have greater social and sexual choice when they are economically independent

Girls learn to make beaded bracelets which are sold to benefit MADaboutART. Girls receive a fee for each bracelet which provides income and builds self-worth and independence. Girls also participate in Hero Booking workshops, a process of personal story-telling that builds self-esteem, self-awareness and self-identity; ultimately improving decision-making and reducing vulnerability to HIV

‘Taking back the Power’ improved/enhanced the situation of women in our community by drawing attention to gender inequality and the vulnerability of women and girls in terms of sexual heath and HIV in particular. This is a tangible step towards tackling culturally-accepted norms and practices (including transactional relationships, gender-related violence and abuse, inter-generational sex) that propagate HIV risk and gender inequality and prevent girls and women from reaching their potential

The project builds self-esteem and fosters ambition that girls can rise above ‘role model’ domestic work and achieve professional career equality. Through making beaded bracelets girls learn about entrepreneurship, develop work ethic and experience earning and using money. Girls gain skills and experience of working and being paid and connect working hard with financial reward. Many girls use their income to buy items for school or make a contribution to their family's household expenses

Findings from the pilot project (2016) were presented at the 13th International AIDS Impact Conference in Cape Town, November 2017
 

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