Safe spaces, vocational training, and prevention programs protect young Ugandan women
Adolescent girls and young women in Uganda, especially those based in rural Africa, experience multiple interrelated adversities that may place them at risk of HIV, alcohol abuse, and being dependent on inequitable power relationships with men for survival and income. With funding from the DREAMS initiative in Africa, a multi-component, community-based intervention was designed to optimize adolescent girls' and young women’s abilities to care for themselves.
From 2016 to 2019, the Uganda Youth Development Link established the DREAMS Initiative for Rural Communities in 10 rural sites in the Bukomansimbi, Gomba, and Ssembabule Districts, at which n = 8620 adolescent girls and young women engaged in vocational training, cognitive-behavioural preventive interventions addressing HIV risk, interpersonal partner violence, substance abuse prevention, parenting classes, and recreational activities.
Surveys at recruitment and two years later evaluated the program and assessed its impact on adolescent girls and young women. Participants reported multiple risk histories including transactional sex, becoming mothers at a young age and alcohol use.
There was high uptake of each program component: 89% completed vocational training; 61% received family planning services; 78% were tested for HIV (1% seropositive). Two years post-intervention, 70% of those who had learnt to be a tailor were still working; 33% of those who had been trained in hairdressing.
Multi-component interventions are required to address the multiple challenges experienced by adolescent girls and young women. The broad range of experiences within each community allows multiple entry points to care and tailored programming for adolescent girls and young women.