During the course of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, with support from US Women’s National Team member and World Cup Champion Christen Press, generous supporters rallied to help 3,500 youth in Africa the Dream BIG. Fueled by a matching donation from a loyal donor, Grassroot Soccer’s DreamBIG campaign raised $87,500! This funding is making a critical impact in the lives of young people in southern Africa by using the power of soccer to connect them with the mentors, information and health services they need to thrive. This generous support will have ripple effects, empowering youth to become leaders in their communities. Check out more in our impact report:
To mark Zambia’s National Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) Day on June 30th, the First Lady of Zambia, Mrs. Esther Lungu, attended a VCT Tournament at Olympia Africa co-hosted by Grassroot Soccer Zambia in conjunction with District Aids Task Force (DATF). This year’s theme was Universal Access to Annual HIV Counselling and Testing.
The day’s activities included a GRS-supported four teams tournament, entertainment and a match past. The event was officiated by First Lady Mrs. Esther Lungu, who also officially flagged off the tournament. In her speech Mrs. Lungu praised the government for instigating a mass campaign to increase the services of HIV counselling and testing. She noted that mobile HIV counselling and testing services had been expanded to target hard to reach areas and school going youths. The Zambian First Lady went on to say that VCT is very important as it is the entry point to HIV prevention, care and support.
A number of partners were present to provide various services such as free HIV counselling and testing, family planning, VMMC, cervical cancer screening and other sexual reproductive health services. Mrs. Lungu herself took an HIV test during the day’s events.
Zambia first observed the National Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) Day on June 30 2006. It was agreed that the day will be recognized annually as it plays an important role in the HIV response and is in line with the global effort to accelerate HIV and AIDS prevention. Further, VCT is ultimately an entry point to HIV prevention, care and support as well as sexual reproductive health services. When people know their status they will be able to make informed choices on how they can either avoid HIV infection if negative, or live positively if they are positive. The theme for 2015 National VCT Day was “Universal Access to Annual HIV Counselling and Testing” and it serves as a reminder to everyone to ensure that they test for HIV at least once a year.
The Zambia Demographic and Health Survey (ZDHS) 2013- 2014 revealed that 80% of women and 64% of men have ever been tested for HIV and, despite government and non-governmental organizations’ efforts to make HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT) services as widely available as possible with more than 1800 counselling sites in the country, only 46% of women and 36% of men had an HIV test in the last 12 months.
Apart from increasing access to HIV testing services, VCT Day provides a platform for the whole nation, provinces and districts with the opportunity to increase access and awareness to information about prevention measures including:
• Having one sexual partner
• Correct and consistent use of condoms
• Access to safe blood and injections
Most importantly, VCT Day calls for wider partnerships that will involve government leaders, traditional leaders, traditional healers; faith based organizations, civil society, private and public sectors as well as general communities. Grassroot Soccer was proud to play a role in mobilizing the community to get tested.
Grassroot Soccer believes strongly in the importance of empowering adolescent girls to live healthier lives, and we are therefore proud to announce that we have become an official signatory of the Girl Declaration, a call to action urging global leaders to put adolescent girls at the heart of the post-2015 development agenda. The Girl Declaration contains goals, targets and guiding principles for including girls. It was created based on consultations with more than 500 adolescent girls living in poverty around the world and more than 25 of the world’s leading development organizations and issue experts.
A broad, historic coalition has now come together to support the Girl Declaration. From Microsoft to Malala, USAID to Unilever, from Save the Children to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, from Nike to Oprah Winfrey, more than 100 individuals, companies, multilateral and aid organizations and NGOs have come together to sign the Girl Declaration. Grassroot Soccer is one of more than 100 signatories.
The Girl Declaration recommends five practical goals with measurable targets. Adolescent girls should:
- reach adulthood with relevant skills and knowledge to fully participate in economic, social and cultural life
- have access to health and nutrition information and services
- be free from violence and exploitation
- know how to build and protect their economic assets; and
- have equal access to services, opportunities, legal rights and personal freedom
The Girl Declaration was developed through a collaborative global process that included consultations with more than 500 adolescent girls living in poverty and more than 25 leading development organizations.
Grassroot Soccer’s work with girls focuses on ages 13-18. What happens to girls during these critical adolescent years can have a profound impact on their lives and our world. We want girls to reach adulthood with skills, knowledge and resources. Adolescent girls are key to every sustainable solution, and the key to ending poverty before it starts. This is the girl effect.
To see the full list of official signatories, go to: http://www.girleffect.org/the-girl-effect-in-action/girl-declaration/ and scroll down to “A World Uniting Behind Girls”.
What Can You Do?
We can all help by letting girls be heard. By letting their concerns guide our efforts beyond 2015. By supporting, translating and sharing the Girl Declaration. By lobbying passionately at a national or regional level for the adoption of the goals and targets in the Girl Declaration. By going to http://www.girleffect.org/2015-beyond/the-declaration/ and pledging support for the Girl Declaration.