DREAMS Innovation Challenge: Zimbabwe
In Zimbabwe, many structural drivers, such as poverty, child marriages, and gendered cultural norms lead adolescent girls and young women to early sexual debut (at age 15 on average), and thus to increased risk of HIV infection and unplanned pregnancy. Teen pregnancy is a formidable obstacle to girls’ education in the country, with 75,000 girls dropping out of school annually due to pregnancy.
To address these challenges, Bantwana and its local partners are implementing the DREAMS Innovation Challenge Program in two high burden districts in Zimbabwe. At the prevention level, Bantwana will target 300 at risk adolescent girls and young women with in school and community based interventions designed to prevent teen pregnancy. These include community level engagements to address harmful cultural norms, building social capital that facilitates retention of girls in school, and in-school activities to identify and protect adolescents at risk of dropping out of school.
On the response side, Bantwana will provide alternative education pathways for out-of-school pregnant and teen mothers while community mentors encourage their retention in the program. Through an HIV-sensitive Case Management System, adolescent girls and young women are linked to critically needed wraparound services, including HIV testing and counseling. Early Child Stimulation (ECS) sessions will empower the young mothers with practical parenting skills to promote healthy child development.