Launched in May 2014 and led by the Soul City Institute for Health and Development Communication (SCI), the RISE Young Women's Clubs initiative seeks to reduce new HIV infections among young women in South Africa. The initiative supports the establishment of women's clubs, which are designed to mobilise and empower young women to advocate for their rights and to become active in uplifting themselves and their communities. SCI supports the clubs through the development of a themed curriculum looking at addressing issues affecting young women, providing the clubs with starter packs and toolkits, and by providing trained mentors through a leadership development mentorship programme. The clubs will also be supported by club magazines, a television show, and social media. The initiative is being funded largely by a grant awarded to SCI by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
The objective of the RISE Young Women's Clubs are to build social cohesion amongst young women to ultimately prevent HIV and enable safer choices by:
- encouraging women to work as a group to do community projects (taking from the Soul Buddyz Club model - see related summary below);
- encouraging young women to work together and support each other; and
- building self-efficacy and resilience.
According to SCI, the clubs will provide much needed positive peer interaction and platforms from which young women can share and grow. These young women will not only be able to empower themselves but can also educate their families, and strengthen family and community structures thereby creating communities that enable young women to make healthy life choices, ie. communities that support gender equality, socio-economic development, and human rights.
The issues dealt with in clubs are based on a combination prevention approach that considers biomedical, behavioural, and structural interventions. Key themes will include:
- female and male condom use;
- enhancing risk perception of transactional and inter-generational sex;
- increasing access to HCT and contraceptive services;
- tackling alcohol misuse;
- addressing gender-based violence;
- supporting career-and enterprise development; and
- promoting school retention and completion.
The primary target audience is vulnerable young women aged between 15-24 years who are in or out of school, especially those residing in high risk areas like informal settlements. They will need to be willing to attend meetings regularly, and be willing to undertake activities based on the curriculum.
Members manage their own clubs with the back-up of trained mentors. Each club has a leadership structure including a chairperson, secretary, and treasurer. A club starter pack and toolkit are provided which contain information and resource tools dealing with the themes outlined above - all aimed at HIV prevention, building self and collective efficacy, and promoting sexual health and rights.
In the later part of 2014, the RISE clubs will also be supported by a club magazine which will be published every 2 months. It will be theme based and contain a mix of content, activities, and ideas for collective community actions.
The clubs will also be supported by a national television show which will feature some of the most active clubs. A MIXIT Reach application is being planned which will profile and support the clubs. There will also be other supporting social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, and Youtube.
Incentives to encourage active and vibrant clubs will include: being featured on the television show, competitions and prizes for clubs and individual members, being able to attend provincial meetings and get an opportunity to network with and learn from other clubs, and being profiled by local media. In addition, clubs who raise funds for specific projects will have their funds matched by an equal contribution from Soul City.
The initiative is being rolled out in 6 provinces in South Africa: Gauteng, Free State, Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape, Kwa Zulu Natal, and the North West Province. The plan is to have over 19,500 women active in the clubs across these provinces, with 975 clubs being planned over the following two years.
HIV/AIDS, youth, gender
The RISE Young Women's Club programme is responding to the fact that young South African women are one of the most vulnerable sectors of the population, with HIV prevalence being much higher among women (23%) in South Africa than in men (13%). The National Strategic Plan on HIV /AIDS and TB also identifies young women aged 15-24 to be a key population who are more likely to be exposed to, or to transmit, HIV infections.
Soul City Institute for Health and Development Communication (SCI) and Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
SCI website and email from Pulane Baloyi from the SCI on July 21 2014.