In Malawi, many children cannot get a meaningful education due to a confluence of factors that includes poverty, unequal gender norms, health and problems within the education system. While girls and boys are affected by many of the same factors, adolescent girls and young women face unique challenges that lead to disproportionately higher dropout rates at the secondary school level, and ultimately lead to a heightened risk for contracting HIV.
The DREAMS: Malawi Communities Investing in Education for Child Health and Safety (CIECHS) project will focus on keeping girls in secondary school and will address a range of factors that contribute to HIV infection among girls and young women across Malawi’s Machinga and Zomba districts. The U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) named the project one of the winners of the DREAMS Innovation Challenge. The DREAMS Innovation Challenge, funded by PEPFAR with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Girl Effect, Johnson & Johnson, Gilead Sciences and ViiV Healthcare, supports adolescent girls and young women to become Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored and Safe.
To reduce the incidence of HIV in this target population, FHI 360 will use an integrated approach rooted in improving access to, retention in and completion of secondary education. FHI 360’s innovative approach will involve integrated, community-led efforts designed to ensure that education, health and economic drivers are simultaneously addressed and strengthened. Over time, this will foster increased participation in secondary school and reduced incidence of HIV in adolescent girls and boys. The project will support approximately 16,600 girls ages 14–17 in secondary school.