Building Adolescent Girls and Young Women’s Social Assets through Safe Spaces

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In Kenya, Global Communities is implementing the PEPFAR/USAID-funded DREAMS program in Kamukunji Sub-county, Nairobi. The program supports adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) age 10-24 years

Young Girls at a Safe Space Session in Pumwani,Nairobi County

to live determined, resilient, empowered, AIDS-free, mentored and safe (DREAMS) lives with the ultimate goal of reducing new HIV infections. The DREAMS program establishes safe space groups for both in and out-of-school girls which act as a structure to deliver interventions/services to girls and as a safe space for girls to build their social assets. The DREAMS safe space groups are girls-only spaces comprised of a group of 25 to 30 girls meeting on a weekly basis at a designated time and location of their choice for two hours with a mentor. The groups are segmented based on age (10-14, 15-19, 20-24 years) and similar characteristics so that girls interact with other girls whom they can share similar experiences with. The program has established a total of 400 safe space groups for both in and out-of-school girls that meet on a regular basis. To date, the program has supported 12,000 AGYW to build their social assets which has led to girls developing meaningful friendships and trusting relationships.

Safe spaces have reduced social isolation among AGYW and increased their social capital. Girls also have access to supportive individuals or organizations within their communities which increases their access to community resources and the wider institutions of society. Through utilizing the safe space groups as a platform for service delivery, the program has provided financial literacy and entrepreneurship training and economically empowered 4,000 girls through job placement, vocational training and business start-ups. The program has reached all 12,000 girls with health education and also liaised with local health facilities to bring services to the girls at the safe spaces which has proved very effective in increasing access and utilization of services. Safe space groups have therefore proved to be very effective as platforms to build girls social assets and for service delivery.