Empowering Youth and Adolescent Girls
Our work with young populations in Bantwana’s countries of operation positively impacts many thousands of lives through timely, youth-centered, cross-cutting interventions that foster access and equity. Yet, the opportunity to harness what is often referred to as the “demographic dividend” comes with significant challenges: Education systems are already under strain and not able to effectively absorb growing student numbers; youth unemployment rates outstrip already high adult unemployment; and the share of NEETs (young people who are “Not in Education, Employment or Training) is expected to grow significantly in the next 20 – 30 years.
Every current project being implemented by Bantwana includes a direct and comprehensive focus on children and youth, spanning childhood, education, nutrition, health and developmental needs, and provides access to essential social services. Among the youth cohort (15 – 24, primarily), Bantwana has innovated and introduced a range of positive development strategies that promote youth-led and youth-centered development.
Pathways out of Poverty: Projects such as AYEDI (the African Youth Empowerment and Development Initiative) in Uganda, the Siyakha Girls Economic Empowerment regional initiative, and Waache Wasome in Tanzania, are prime examples of Positive Youth Development in practice. Through skill-building of male and female youth peer leaders and adult mentors, we equip young people with basic financial skills training, and offer a suite of pathways to increased economic resilience through access to continuing education, internships, apprenticeships, vocational training, entrepreneurial opportunities, income generating activities (IGAs), youth savings and lending associations, and more.
Life Skills, Gender Norms and Empowerment: Youth led structures such as Protect Our Youth Clubs, Child Rights Clubs, and Out-of-School Support (or Study) Groups (OSSGs) provide both physical and social “safe spaces” where young people can develop their agency and protective assets and build awareness of their rights. Over more than a decade, Bantwana has developed, refined, and adapted core curricula around topics identified as priorities by youth themselves. These include a range of communication skills (for communicating with peers, parents, and other adults); goal-setting and study-habits; basic financial understanding; identification and prevention of violence against children, including gender-based violence; and emotional and psychosocial support. Bantwana reaches well over 100,000 adolescents annually with protective assets, HIV prevention and life skills education, and is developing innovative applications for reaching adolescent girls through mobile technology.
HIV Mitigation: Under our DREAMS programs in various countries, we have reached thousands of in-school and out-of-school girls and teen mothers with mentor programs and access to education, protective assets and life skills, vocational training and job readiness, financial literacy, and linkages to HIV treatment and care and post-GBV services. Our programming links adolescents to services for sexual and reproductive health, HIV, ART, and GBV/post-abuse. We deliver age-appropriate parenting programs to enhance parent-child relationships and communication.
Education Retention: Bantwana’s Early Warning Systems prevent drop out and retain youth in school, through the use of simple case management and building teacher, parent, and community awareness and skills and effective student communication and support. The EWS model has been adapted to each context, and has been scaled nationally in Zimbabwe and in Tanzania, where it is integrated into the government’s online School Information System.
Gender-based Violence (GBV) and Social Protection: GBV is prevalent across our countries of operation, driven by a confluence of negative gender norms, poverty, and many entrenched inequities. Bantwana innovates both prevention and response programming, working at community-levels, in schools, and at national levels to change social norms and interrupt and respond to GBV and violence against children: social protection is a core focal area of Bantwana programming.