Girls LEAP (Leadership, Empowerment and Advocacy Program) empowers adolescent girls and their mentors from Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania as catalysts to reduce HIV rates, change attitudes around gender-based violence and increase understanding of sexual health and reproductive services in 30 communities across East Africa using creative methods.
The face of HIV/AIDS in East Africa is young and female, with rates more than twice their male counterparts. Kenya and Tanzania have the highest infection rates for girls 15-24 and 1 in 3 women in Rwanda experience violence from male relatives, making them 50% more likely to acquire HIV. Girls forced into early marriage are unable to negotiate safe sex, and cultural beliefs increase the risk for girls through lack of education and access to services.
The inability to make choices and take action on matters of one's own health and well-being is a major factor of HIV vulnerability for adolescent girls. Only through meaningful civic participation can HIV programs be effective. Girls and their mentors examine root causes and prevention strategies of HIV, early marriage and violence, then implement arts-based community actions that engage stakeholders, decision makers and media to challenge limiting norms and produce local solutions.
30 adolescent girls and their 12 mentors from 8 partner organizations will replicate training and implement creative actions within their schools/clubs/communities, building a strong advocacy network across East Africa. Knowledge of and access to SRH services as well as understanding of the underlying causes that drive HIV, gender violence and early marriage will increase, with a goal to increase the demand for SRH services and reduce HIV rates by 10% among girls in participating communities.