A partnership between the TechnoGirl Trust and HIVSA is bringing an increased level of HIV and health awareness to young people in South Africa. The two organisations share the strategic priority to empower young people to achieve their aspirations while looking after their health and wellbeing. This partnership addresses crucially important challenges that South Africa continues to face, with 24% of women aged between 18 to 49 years living with HIV, 150 000 young girls experiencing teenage pregnancy, and limited resources to address personal sexual health in many impoverished communities.
“Our partnership with HIVSA started in 2022 when we identified that we share the organisational objective to serve young people from under-resourced communities. While our objective is to narrow the discrepancy in opportunities that still exist between men and women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers, HIVSA prioritises awareness on HIV, community health, sexual health, hygiene, menstrual health, and puberty,” says Ms Staff Sithole, chief executive officer at TechnoGirl Trust. “For young people to be focused on career development, personal and sexual health cannot be ignored.”
The point of collaboration is Choma digital magazine, started by HIVSA to engage young South Africa
n women between the ages of 15 and 25 years on HIV prevention, sexual health and personal wellness. Through the partnership, the TechnoGirl Trust is providing their job shadowing programme beneficiaries health awareness via Choma. “HIV and sexual health awareness is a very important component that should always complement career development. Choma therefore fills the health information gap where TechnoGirl Trust provides a structured job shadowing programme to young girls,” says Sithole.
To date, over 16 000 girls have gone through the TechnoGirl’s programme and, on average, 75% of the beneficiaries advance to register STEM careers. Together this partnership treats career development and sexual health awareness as aspects that will open us a more promising future for many young people in South Africa.
“Speaking to young people gives us an opportunity to empower them with information that assists them in making informed decisions when it comes to their sexual health, thus preventing the spread of HIV and teenage pregnancy. Through our partnership with TechnoGirl Trust, we can reach young people in disadvantaged backgrounds, where the dissemination of this information in the past has been a challenge due to technological constraints,” says Ms Yashmita Naidoo, chief executive officer of HIVSA.
“I am truly excited and inspired by our partnership with HIVSA. This collaboration with HIVSA’s Choma initiative allows us to provide a comprehensive education that not only nurtures their STEM interests but also equips them with the vital knowledge and confidence to look after their health and wellbeing. Together with HIVSA, we are shaping a brighter future for our TechnoGirls, where they not only excel in STEM but also become empowered leaders and advocates for their own health and the well-being of their communities,” adds Sithole.