Between 2-7 December 2019 our Trainers4Life Sherifa Awudu and Evelyn Odhiambo attended the 20th International Conference on AIDS and STIs (ICASA) held in Kigali, Rwanda. They presented findings from the Dance4Life pilots in Ghana and Tanzania showcasing how the Empowerment Model increases gender equality and fosters positive sexual behaviors.
Our work for gender equality
Lifting girls up is one of the main focus of our Empowerment Model. Gender inequalities, gender-based violence and other harmful socio-cultural practices continue to make adolescent girls and young women more vulnerable to HIV (UNAIDS, 2019); complications during pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death for 15 to 19 year-old girls globally (WHO, 2018); approximately 15 million adolescent girls worldwide have experienced forced sex, often within child marriage (UN Women, 2019). This is why we tirelessly work to reduce HIV, unwanted pregnancies and gender based violence among adolescents. Our sexuality education curriculum, the Journey4Life, targets both boys and girls in 14 countries.
We believe that including boys is key to ensure that in the future men and women will work hand in hand to promote gender equality.
Through the creative and playful activities of the Journey4Life, boys and girls reflect on gender stereotypes, explore typical assumptions about different genders, and become aware of their own gender biases. More generally, they develop social awareness and relationship skills leading them to be more empathetic and therefore respectful towards others.
Our results at ICASA
At ICASA, our young Trainers4Life Sherifa and Evelyn presented “Tackling gender inequality to reduce HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections. Results from the evaluation of the Dance4Life sexuality education programme in Ghana and Tanzania” (see photo). The presentation was based on the evaluation of the Empowerment Model in Ghana and Tanzania. It showcased how the model is effective to increase gender equality and foster positive behaviors. This confirms milestone research stating that sexuality education programmes with strong a focus on gender and power have higher impact (Haberland, 2015).
The evaluation demonstrated that gender equality increases among young people exposed to the Journey4Life.
In Ghana, the percentage of young people disagreeing with common unequal gender beliefs raised from 60% to 71%, while the percentage of those disagreeing with unequal gender expectations around SRH choices and responsibilities increased from 61% to 83%. In Tanzania, this aforementioned indicator increased from 49% to 98%, while the percentage of young people disagreeing with gender stereotypes increased from 35% to 58%. The increase in gender equality is associated with other outcomes indicating positive sexuality.
In Ghana more young people reported to be confident to carry condoms if sex may happen (from 48% to 62%); to discuss STIs status with the partner (from 64% to 71%); and to ask the partner to use condoms (from 58% to 73%). In Tanzania the percentage of young people reporting confidence in getting condoms in a pharmacy/clinic increased from 5% to 14%. In terms of behaviors, in Ghana more young people got tested for STIs (from 16 to 21%). In Tanzania, percentages of young people getting tested increased from 6% to 38% for HIV, and from 23% to 32% for STIs – excluding HIV.
Feel free to download the poster here!