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The 2020 Global 16 Days of Activism is a call to action to end the destructive impact of gender-based violence (GBV) in our communities. GBV is a pervasive threat that survives through harmful gender norms and silence, and which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Women and girls remain disproportionately impacted by GBV at a disturbing rate. An estimated one in three women will experience physical or sexual violence in her lifetime. GBV undermines the health and autonomy of survivors and often contributes to a lifetime of negative outcomes, including adverse sexual and reproductive health consequences such as unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.

The focus for the 2020 Global 16 Days Campaign is to increase efforts to amplify the voices of women workers in the informal economy while continuing to end all forms of GBV in public and private spaces. The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) remains committed to leveraging our investments and partnerships to support these goals.

PEPFAR continues our substantial investment in 15 countries through the DREAMS partnership to reduce new HIV infections in adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) by addressing the structural drivers that place them at risk of acquiring HIV. The unacceptably high prevalence of HIV in AGYW, especially in east and Southern Africa where girls are up to 14 times more likely to be infected than their male peers, stems from the complex vulnerabilities and circumstances that AGYW face.

GBV continues to be a key driver of HIV vulnerability among AGYW, and AGYW need support now more than ever to achieve lives free from GBV and harmful practices to help them thrive and remain AIDS-free. PEPFAR is dedicated to reducing sexual violence by meaningfully engaging AGYW and their communities with violence prevention and norms change activities, while also responding to violence with post-GBV care.

For AGYW working in the informal and formal economies, DREAMS is focused on decreasing their dependency on potentially harmful relationships and behaviors for survival by providing evidence-based economic strengthening interventions. We join the global community in raising alarm about the persistent challenges experienced by AGYW who are exposed to GBV or live in communities where GBV is a constant threat. Regardless of the setting or space, we all have a part to play in ensuring that women and girls are safe and free of violence and harassment.

Please check out the powerful video messages below from some of our amazing DREAMS Ambassadors! DREAMS Ambassadors represent the interests and issues faced by their peers and are leading the way through advocacy and community engagement to address GBV and other issues in their communities, countries, and around the world.

Grace (Zambia) 

Shukuru (Tanzania) 

Julia (Zimbabwe) 

Lurdes Joaquim (Mozambique) 

U.S. Department of State

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