International Day of the Girl Child (IDGC) is observed globally on 11 October. The theme of 2018 is ‘With Her: A Skilled GirlForce’ and the United Nations (UN) will be advocating for equal rights for girls and a chance for a better education. In recognition of the day, the largest non-profit HIV/AIDS health provider globally, AIDS HEALTHCARE FOUNDATION (AHF) proudly premiered their moving documentary Girls ACT at the Bioscope in Johannesburg with both adolescent girls and the media in attendance.
The documentary is the latest is a series of films by highlighting key obstacles to HIV prevention and treatment. This film showcases the impact AHF have made through their work with adolescent girls and the Girls ACT initiative in five developing countries. Now in its third year, the Girls ACT programme addresses the high rate of new HIV infections in adolescent girls and young women by sharing information with both boys and girls about safer-sex practices, the importance of staying in school, health and hygiene, self-esteem and sexual and reproductive health and rights.
“School attendance for adolescent girls is low in developing countries and one contributing factor is that girls can’t afford sanitary towels, resulting in them missing out on school. By distributing sanitary towels we keep the girls in school and this is vital because research shows us that an educated girl is less vulnerable and less likely to be infected with HIV,” comments Hilary Thulare, AHF South Africa Country Programme Director. 68% of adolescent girls want a good education, 54% want better health care and 47% want better job opportunities.
1 The desire from young girls to enrich their lives is noticeably present and when a helping hand is given a positive outcome is realised. Larissa Klazinga, Regional Policy and Advocacy Manager, AHF South Africa says, “We have seen girls aged between 15 and 24 uplifting themselves and their community through Girls ACT. We are building self-esteem and confidence and ensuring they know the facts that will keep them safe from HIV, STIs and unplanned pregnancy and that is vital to winning the war on AIDS. We also invite boys into the conversation, recognising that their support is critical to the work we do. We encourage the boys to protect their health with voluntary medical male circumcision and condom use and to reject toxic masculinity and violence. We help them to become role models”.
For more information on AHF and Girls ACT, visit either www.aidshealth.org or www.facebook.com/aidshealth.org