Girls and young women are the future of tomorrow. Despite the incalculable obstacles they often face in daily life, such as discrimination, abuse and discouragement from pursuing their dreams, many find the strength to persevere and succeed. To celebrate and empower girls and young women to embrace their aspirations and take charge of their health, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) hosted events in ten countries on Oct. 11 in commemoration of the International Day of the Girl Child (IDGC).
In addition to offering free services and information on sexual health and HIV prevention, AHF also put the spotlight on lack of access to feminine hygiene products in Africa. AHF donated 1 million free sanitary pads to girls in Africa, so that they don’t have to miss school during their menstruation period – a frequent occurrence among girls who cannot afford sanitary pads.
Below is a roundup of photos from these inspirational, heart-warming events:
Hundreds gathered in Uganda to receive messages on empowerment and self-confidence in recognition of IDGC. After health officials accepted AHF’s sanitary pad donation, participating girls gave testimonials of their experiences and listened to community leaders speak on the value of education and HIV prevention.
AHF Nigeria supported the IDGC by formally handing over its share of the 1 million sanitary pads and holding an event at a local school. The Nigeria Ministry of Women’s Affairs accepted the donation, then AHF hosted girls from rural Abuja the following day, which included information sessions on feminine hygiene and HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention, treatment and care.
AHF Zambia held an official ceremony with government officials, who accepted the country’s share of its sanitary pads. Hundreds of women and girls were in attendance to receive free t-shirts and hygiene products, then heard empowering messages about the importance of gender equality.
AHF South Africa’s Girls Act event in the Eastern Cape drew over 600 participants from four local schools. Girls received t-shirts and sanitary pads, then attended workshops on menstrual hygiene, HIV and STIs, self-esteem and the importance of staying in school.
A successful IDGC campaign culminated on Oct. 18 in Kigali as students from two schools gathered for an event that was the highlight of a week-long initiative. Both girls and boys joined together and were encouraged to be actively involved in their own prevention programs that focused on avoiding illegal drugs and reinforcing healthy sex practices and life-styles to avoid unwanted pregnancies and HIV/STIs.
A four-team netball and soccer tournament were the highlight of AHF Lesotho’s “Keep the Promise to #Girl-power” IDGC event. To help protect young women and girls, the primary messages for the effort were focused on keeping girls in school and stopping child marriages—an all too common practice that leads to increased risks of contracting HIV, suffering abuse from domestic violence and complications during pregnancy.
An inventive campaign resulted in an atmosphere of tolerance and non-discrimination during AHF China’s “Keep the Promise to Girls” event. Its celebration paired HIV negative children with AHF-sponsored students from the Linfen Red Ribbon School. Thanks to complimentary Disneyland tickets, the children visited the theme park in Shanghai while promoting equality and education about HIV/AIDS.
IDCG events in India included peaceful demonstrations against gender-based violence, along with information sessions and discussions. AHF India organized a panel to promote awareness of violence against women and to emphasize evening misconceptions and the discrimination often tied to HIV/AIDS.