These two materials have been developed to help community leaders in Swaziland to support adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) in their communities and to advocate for modification of harmful cultural norms and practices that place AGYW at risk of HIV infection. The materials are designed to strengthen the capacity of community leaders to engage and mobilise their communities to take action to create a protective environment that reduces the vulnerability of AGYW.
The materials were developed as part of the DREAMS initiative, a partnership developed between the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Girl Effect, which seeks to reduce HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women in 10 sub-Saharan African countries. DREAMS seeks to work with community leaders to engage (mobilise) communities to reduce vulnerabilities and increase safety of AGYW in Swaziland. The programme is designed to do this by changing norms, preventing community-based violence, and linking them to care and prevention services.
As explained in the guides, community leaders include chiefs, inner council, Inkhundla council, traditional leaders, church leaders, health leaders, and education leaders. Community leaders are an intended group for this intervention, as they can play a key role in advocating and driving social mobilisation initiatives that address HIV and AIDS and gender-based violence (GBV). "[C]ommunity leaders have unparalleled authority and influence. They preside over the customary law courts that exercise legislative powers that maintain law and order in communities." They can therefore play a central role in addressing harmful practices in the context of HIV while also preserving core values and culture.
The two materials to support community leaders in this role are:
The Training the Trainers Guide
The guide is intended to guide a workshop for community leaders, which is designed to take place over four days, with at least three to four hours of instruction per day. The first two days include training participants to learn about gender issues and to understand girls’ vulnerability to HIV, as well as to develop action plans for participants to share with their community. This is intended to be a two-day residential training for the chiefs and a community-based workshop for the inner council and general community leaders. The third day is intended to be held the following quarter. It focuses on stigma and its role in the community, as well as an action plan review. The last day, intended to be held in the quarter following the third, covers GBV, advocacy for change, and what each person can do with their knowledge and skills. The workshop format is interactive with lots of discussion and activities to support adult learning styles and increase understanding of the issues.
A Tool for Facilitating Dialogue
This tool is designed for programme staff to guide dialogues with community leaders. The guide is composed of four modules:
- Gender and HIV
- AGYW Vulnerability to HIV
- Gender-Based Violence
- Stigma and Activism
Each section is to be presented on separate days to a group of community leaders pre-selected by a trained facilitator. The first two modules are meant to be done on two consecutive days, followed by Module 3 a few months later, and Module 4 a few months after that. However, this can be modified to fit programme needs.