Campaign to address challenges facing girls

Friday, June 24, 2016

Pretoria – Government has launched a campaign to build the confidence of women, build their resilience and unlock their strength and worth.

Speaking at the launch of the National Campaign for Girls and Young Women at the Royal Showgrounds in Pietermaritzburg, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said the innovative campaign aims to mobilise all sections of society to address five critical challenges facing young people.

“These challenges include the high number of new HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women, high rates of teenage pregnancy, poor retention of learners in high schools, high rates of sexual and gender-based violence, and high rates of youth employment,” he said.

He said the campaign deliberately aims to increase economic opportunities for young people, particularly young women.

“We urge young women and girls to be part of decision-making in their schools, clinics and communities. This campaign will encourage greater use of services provided by government and other stakeholders,” said the Deputy President.

Girls and boys, women and men, need to assume responsibility for preventing teenage pregnancy, which reduces the life opportunities for young women.

“Young people, with the support of their parents, caregivers, communities and government, will be at centre of national efforts to keep girls in school until matric.

“That is because education provides an opportunity to overcome the impediments to a successful, fulfilling life.”

Despite remarkable success in saving lives through the provision of free treatment for people living with HIV and Aids, it is estimated that nearly 2 000 girls and young women between the ages of 15 and 24 get infected by HIV in this country each week.

The Deputy President said this was highest rate of new HIV infections in any age or gender category.

“This is one of the highest rates in the world and is the reason that we are launching an ambitious and innovative campaign targeting this group of highly vulnerable young people.

“This campaign is informed by the knowledge that HIV thrives on ignorance, in conditions of poverty and in situations of unequal gender relations. It thrives on unsafe sex, destructive behaviour and the abuse of alcohol and drugs.”

The National Campaign for Girls and Young Women will further reach out to men and encourage them to use condoms, stick to one sexual partner and not to prey on younger girls and women.

It will also encourage men to play a central role in promoting safer sexual behaviour and in bringing an end to violence and abuse.

“Only a comprehensive multi-sectoral campaign at the level of the community will bring about this change.

“All government departments will work with NGOs in the communities through our national, provincial and local Aids councils to ensure this campaign succeeds,” said the Deputy President. –

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