Zulu to relaunch SheDecides Movement

South Africa – Social Development Minister, Lindiwe Zulu, will today relaunch the SheDecides Movement in South Africa, in collaboration with Kgosi Gaboilelwe Moroka of Barolong Boo Seleka Traditional Council in the Free State .

SheDecides is a global movement to promote, provide, protect and enhance the fundamental rights of girls and women to bodily autonomy and to make decisions about their bodies, lives, health and futures .

The movement advocates for investment in comprehensive sexuality education to reduce unintended pregnancies, including teenage pregnancy .

The relaunch comes at the back of a report by Statistics South Africa titled: “The Young and Restless-Adolescent Health in South Africa” which shows that adolescents aged 10-19 represent a significant proportion of the population at 17,4% .

 The report further shows that adolescents face many challenges such as mental health issues, alcohol and drug use, and early and unprotected sex, which carries a high risk of acquiring HIV infections and other sexually transmitted infections as well as teenage pregnancy .

“Over the last three years, there has been a significant increase in teenage pregnancy in the age cohort 10-14 and 14-19 years who delivered at public health facilities, with estimates revealing that over 150 000 young girls were pregnant in the 2022/2023 financial year .

 “Teenage pregnancy has adverse outcomes for girls as they often drop out of school and prevent them from realising their full potential, enjoying and exercising their rights .

 “It curtails their learning outcomes and education status, which in turn limits their future participation in economic opportunities and perpetuates intergenerational cycle of poverty,” said the Department of Social Development in a statement .

Prior to Friday’s relaunch, Minister Zulu and Kgosi Moroka will visit local health facilities, which have a crucial role to play in the provision of sexual and reproductive health services to adolescents and teenagers .

After the relaunch, the department will embark on a national roll out of the SheDecides Movement to complement other initiatives such as ChommY and YOLO, with focus on teenage pregnancy hot spots areas across the country .

Launched in 2020 ChommY, a colloquial term for “friend” seeks to build a positive friendship among children of between 10 and 14 years .

 ChommY aims to generate knowledge, develop skills and empower young people to make more informed choices to reduce HIV infections, substance abuse, boost self-confidence and to prevent teenage pregnancies .

 Meanwhile, the You Only Live Once (YOLO) programme was launched in 2015 to educate young people between the ages of 15 and 24 years about HIV/Aids, substance abuse, teenage pregnancy and being agents of social change .

YOLO was established as part of the department’s Comprehensive Strategy on HIV and Aids
With the festive season upon us and young people engaging in the so-called “pens down” celebrations across the country, Minister Zulu will also use the opportunity  to launch an  anti-alcohol and substance abuse festive season campaign to create awareness and educate the public about the negative effects of alcohol and substance abuse, including under-age drinking .

“Alcohol is the most used and abused drug amongst South Africans .

One of the most alarming consequences of drug and alcohol abuse during this time of the year is an uptick in alcohol-related road fatalities .

“As the festive season approaches and we celebrate the end of what has been a difficult year for many, we appeal that we do so in a drug-free environment to prevent the heightened risk of drugs and alcohol-related accidents, trauma and injuries during this time of the year,” Minister Zulu said .

The Anti-Alcohol and Drugs Festive Season Campaign forms part of the activities for the implementation of the National Drug Master Plan (2019-2024) -South Africa Free of Substance Abuse .

The relaunch of the SheDecides and the Anti-Alcohol and Drugs  Festive Season Campaign will take place  at the Barolong Boo Seleka Tribal Council, Thaba Nchu, in the Free State .