Empowering girls through education: a key strategy in HIV prevention.

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Empowering girls through education: a key strategy in HIV prevention.

In many parts of Zimbabwe, financial constraints force many girls to drop out of school, leaving them vulnerable and marginalized. The silent force of poverty devastates the dreams and futures of countless girls. Susan, an 18-year-old girl from Cowdrey Park in Bulawayo, often missed school, which took a toll on her academic performance. Her father, a self-employed electrician, struggled to keep up with the school fees, leading to late payments. Reminiscing on how her sister faced similar challenges, Susan felt her dreams slipping away.

When Susan learned about the DREAMS-Reignite, Innovate, Sustain and Empower (RISE) program, she saw a glimmer of hope. The program targets girls who are at risk of dropping out of school, supporting them with education subsidies (fees and stationery). As the intervention contribute to keeping girls in school, it is providing the girls with an opportunity to be resilient and empowered, ultimately reducing their vulnerability to HIV. This intervention transformed Susan’s life. She started attending school regularly, and her grades improved significantly.

Susan’s sister Roselyn, who also struggled in her education journey, shared her perspective: “I struggled to get adequate education because of financial constraints, and when I heard about the DREAMS-RISE program, I made it my mission to ensure my little sister utilized this opportunity to succeed. I don’t want her to face the same challenges I did.”

With the unwavering support of her sister, the DREAMS-RISE program, and her determination, Susan successfully completed her A-levels with excellent results. Now, she eagerly awaits the next chapter of her education journey at the tertiary level.


Susan is one of the 15 534 Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW) who received life-changing education subsidies through the DREAMS-RISE program in 2023. With support from the American people through PEPFAR and USAID, the DREAMS-RISE program continues to implement innovative initiatives to reduce AGYW’s vulnerability to HIV infection. Susan’s story serves as a powerful reminder of the transformative impact of empowering the girls as a key strategy in HIV prevention.

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