South African AIDS Conference 2015: Soul City salutes young women and girls

The 7th annual South African AIDS Conference was held in Durban recently. Soul City Institute had a strong presence. A number of presentation were made by Soul City with s particular focus on young women and girls.

Presentations and discussions led by the institute included HIV’s female face: Insights into the vulnerability of young women in South Africa. Young Women at the Centre; Strengthening health systems: Using Community Based Monitoring to improve HIV prevention; Reducing HIV risky behaviour through agency amongst youth; Innovative ways for monitoring community-based HIV interventions and Assessment of HIV risk: The Rise App and Development and application of an HIV risk composite index.


The Institutes Rise clubs and the Soul City team participated in the Young women’s global village where CEO Lebo Ramafoko played the role of MC. The event was co-hosted by Zazi girls, Positive Women’s Network and Soul City Rise young Women’s Clubs. In addition a satellite session on the 10th June really put young women at the centre.  A lot of very brave young women discussed frankly issues around relationships, safer sex – particularly their reservations and successes with condom use. They also spoke openly about the abuse that they all face in schools at the hands of teachers. 

What stood out at the young women’s global village session was that the young women didn’t stand up and repeat by slogans and superficial phrases, but they   told their stories and were earnest in the discussions. There were often bursts of laughter sometimes hilarity and sometimes embarrassment but it was generally a heart rending and at the same time heart-warming experience.


As we commemorate Youth Day this June 16, Soul City salutes these brave young women and all those in the Rise Clubs. Brave enough to share their stories, brave enough to stand up and fight to build a better life for themselves and their families, brave enough to believe they can and will. Together we become stronger.

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