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DREAMS, Gender Innovations, and Results

Date & Time

Jan. 31, 2018
10:00am – 11:30am ET


6th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center
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“There is no healthcare delivery system for non-pregnant 15- to 24-year olds,” said the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, Ambassador Deborah Birx, at a recent Wilson Center event on efforts to reduce the prevalence of HIV/AIDS among adolescent girls in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2014, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) established the DREAMS program, which aims to create “a health care system where young people interact in a proactive and positive way,” said Birx.

Given the high rates of sexual violence in the 10 DREAMS focus countries, programs must reach 9- to 14-year olds, said Ambassor Birx. “We can’t change their future if we don’t ensure that [sexual violence] doesn’t exist,” she said. “We have to work together with the government and the communities to really create a new pathway for young women.”

But how best to reach girls that young? Traditional leaders and youth ambassadors can help: “The girls feel motivated, they accept the program, and as a result, they want to participate in the program because it is respected by the traditional leaders,” said Glory Mkandawire from One Community Malawi. And Nadyah, a member of the Plan Youth Advisory Board, said “word of mouth was a huge way for them to learn about the program and the successes,” naming youth ambassadors as one of the most effective forms of outreach.

Data can help find the right places to focus: Michelle Adato of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) said that the Data Collaboratives for Local Impact program uses data “to predict where girls are likely to drop out of school and to be ready with solutions in those areas.”

DREAMS reduced new adolescent HIV/AIDS cases by an impressive 25 to 40 percent in focus countries. But the intangible results from the program were perhaps just as significant: “For the first time, someone is not only listening, but hearing,” said Ambassador Birx. “I think they feel like finally they are being heard.”

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Sources: John Hopkins Center for Communication Programs, PLAN International, President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation

Article written by Yuval Cohen and edited by Meaghan Parker.

Hosted By

Maternal Health Initiative

Life and health are the most basic human rights, yet disparities between and within countries continue to grow. No single solution or institution can address the variety of health concerns the world faces. By leveraging, building on, and coordinating the Wilson Center’s strong regional and cross-cutting programming, the Maternal Health Initiative (MHI) promotes dialogue and understanding among practitioners, scholars, community leaders, and policymakers.  Read more

Global Risk and Resilience Program

The Global Risk and Resilience Program (GRRP) seeks to support the development of inclusive, resilient networks in local communities facing global change. By providing a platform for sharing lessons, mapping knowledge, and linking people and ideas, GRRP and its affiliated programs empower policymakers, practitioners, and community members to participate in the global dialogue on sustainability and resilience. Empowered communities are better able to develop flexible, diverse, and equitable networks of resilience that can improve their health, preserve their natural resources, and build peace between people in a changing world.  Read more

Global Women's Leadership Initiative

The Global Women’s Leadership Initiative has hosted the Women in Public Service Project at the Wilson Center since June, 2012. The Women in Public Service Project will accelerate global progress towards women’s equal participation in policy and political leadership to create more dynamic and inclusive institutions that leverage the full potential of the world’s population to change the way global solutions are forged.  Read more

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