DREAMS Thina Abantu Abasha is a youth-led pilot programme, supported by Johnson & Johnson, in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which aims to decrease the rate of HIV infection in the Ugu district in KwaZulu-Natal and in the City of Tshwane in Gauteng.

In recent years, statistics indicate that young African women and adolescent girls are especially vulnerable to HIV infection, making up for 74% of new HIV infections among all adolescents living in sub-Saharan Africa. The 10 DREAMS countries (Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe) account for more than half of all the new HIV infections that occurred among adolescent girls and young women globally in 2015

In response to this, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and supporting organisations, launched the DREAMS Initiative, which promotes empowerment and education amongst adolescent girls and young women, with the aim of nurturing and building determined, resilient, empowered, AIDS-free, mentored and safe women who will powerfully mentor and lead the next generation of African females.


In an effort to amplify the DREAMS Initiative, Johnson & Johnson conducted research in nine of the ten DREAMS focus countries. In order to identify greater insight, understand the impact of the societal issues in these areas, and ascertain actionable solutions, the team interviewed those most vulnerable to HIV/AIDS – adolescent girls and young women between ages of 10 and 24 years old.

Through this qualitative research, three key pillars of focus were identified; namely, Employability, Leadership and Sexual and Reproductive Health. It was heart-warmingly evident that these adolescent girls and young women wanted to be actively involved in this programme, ensuring it’s continued success for years to come. Through this learning, a profound statement was born – ‘Nothing for Us, Without Us’, meaning that no action of empowering the youth should be taken without the direct involvement of the youth.


With this in mind, Johnson & Johnson partnered with UNFPA, to establish the youth-led DREAMS Amplification Programme. In 2017, this programme saw the establishment of the first Youth Leadership Team, which has since developed and leads the current DREAMS Thina Abantu Abasha programme.

This peer-to-peer education programme focuses on up-skilling and nurturing adolescent girls and young women in the three key areas of growth – Employability, Leadership and Sexual and Reproductive Health. In addition to the peer-to-peer educational support, the programme also comprises of social media components, supplementary material containing relevant and easy-to-read content, as well as outreach events such as career days and road shows.

DREAMS Thina Abantu Abasha aims to empower and inspire behavioural change amongst adolescent girls and young women, ultimately resulting in a higher level of education, a strong sense of female leadership, and a reduced rate of HIV infection.


The programme is primarily targeted at adolescent girls and young women between the ages of 12 and 24 years old, both in school and out of school. We also aim to reach a secondary target group through the social networks of our key audience, comprising of families, partners, and friendship connections.


The programme officially launched in May 2018, starting in KwaZulu Natal, and then later to Gauteng within the DREAMS Initiative districts. The programme will run until November 2020


The programme is planned to empower the most disadvantaged adolescent girls and young women in key areas of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, with educational skills and opportunities that will ultimately improve their overall quality of life. The programme aims to meet the following criteria:

  • Provide young girls with access to a valuable peer-to-peer education programme, encouraging skills in leadership and employability.
  • Provide adolescent girls and young women with access to sexual reproductive health education and life skills, thus empowering them to make informed life decisions.
  • Provide young girls with practical opportunities to implement what they have been taught about leadership and employability, so that they can continue to teach this to the next generation of female leaders.