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Zazi- it is time to know your strength

By Faeza
17 August 2015

South Africa launches a campaign to encourage women to insist partners use condoms to prevent HIV infections and unplanned pregnancies

Every month an estimated 10 000 young women aged   15 – 24 are infected with HIV and 8 000 young women below the age of 18 years give birth in our country.

Many of these infections can be prevented and unplanned pregnancies can be avoided.  Condoms are the most reliable method to both prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted infections and to prevent unwanted and unplanned pregnancies. . This August, in honour of women’s month, Government is working with women’s advocacy groups to promote the use of condoms.

We call on everyone to support the right of women to both insist that their partners use condoms and their right to carry condoms if they chose to.

“Condoms are the only method that both prevents unwanted pregnancy and prevents the acquisition of HIV and other STIs”, says Dr Yogan Pillay, Deputy Director-General at the National Department of Health.  "It is important for young women to be able to request condoms from health facilities, buy condoms, carry condoms and insist that their partners use condoms. Young women who carry and use condoms should be celebrated for taking responsibility for their lives and investing in their future. This is not about promoting sexual activities but about taking responsibility for one’s health”.

This campaign is informed by a recent study undertaken by the Centre for Aids Research and Evaluation (CADRE) that revealed that most men would be willing to use a condom if their partner insisted on it, but if their female partners do not insist they will choose not use the condom.

“Many women believe that they do not have the power to ask their partner to use condoms fearing a  backlash, and even violence” says Lusanda Mahlasela,  head of Research, Monitoring and Evaluation at Centre for Communication Impact.

“This campaign aims to spark a national movement of and for young women who are proud to carry condoms should they wish to and men who respect their partner’s decision by using condoms”.

During August young women in schools, higher education institutions, and communities; joined by celebrities, professional women and those in leadership are being asked to facilitate dialogues and conversations with young women and men to find ways of empowering young women   to remain HIV free and to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

In addition to facilitating conversations and dialogues, women are encouraged to post pictures of condoms in their handbags, gym bags and backpacks or write a message of support and post it. The more South Africans who participate through sharing pictures and encouraging young women to bag it and use it, the more normal it will be for young women to bag it and use it. This will empower women to take control of their sexual health and future, so that we can have a country where less young women are infected  with HIV and where teenage pregnancy is reduced.

Miss South Africa pageant 1st Princess Refilwe Mthimunye  @R_FiFi_M ( Twiiter) R_fifi on Instagram will kick off the pledge challenge on Thursday, August 6th, on social media platforms Twitter and Facebook.

“ I really believe in women exercising their rights .I encourage all women to take control of their lives and their futures through practicing safe sex – bag it use it ”

HOW TO MAKE THE CARRY A CONDOM PLEDGE:

1.) Take a picture of a condom in your handbag or in your hand

2.) Or take a picture of yourself with a message telling us why you know your strength and are in control of your health

3.) Post the picture on Twitter using the hashtag  #bagituseit and tag @teamzazi

4.) Post the picture to Facebook and dare your friends to do the same

About ZAZI:

The ZAZI campaign promotes self-confidence amongst young women so that they can draw upon their own strength to make positive choices for their future. It encourages them to resist peer pressure and define their own values so that they can prevent unwanted pregnancies and HIV.

The campaign calls upon young women to know their rights, stand up for themselves and to have the strength to decide what is right for them. ZAZI is a partnership between the Departments of Health, Social Development, Basic Education and SANAC. It is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through PEPFAR.

www.zazi.org.za