Background of the Academy

SAfAIDS with support from Sweden Norad, under the Sustainable Communities of Real Excellence (SCORE) programme established a SRH Young People’s Leadership Academy (YPLA), which targets young women and young men aged between 18 and 24 years from southern Africa. In the last 3 years, SAfAIDS successfully piloted a Young Women Leadership programme with nine young women from Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe and scaled up with 60 more from Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Last year, SAfAIDS successfully hosted 12 young women and men from Lesotho, Zambia and Zimbabwe as the first YPLA cohort. The young women and men who have participated in the YWL and YPLA programmes came from diverse backgrounds.                                                  

Following participation in the programme, the young women and men reported being very empowered to make the right SRH decisions for themselves including claiming their sexual rights and spaces. The YWL programme had a strong mentoring approach where the young women were attached to elder and prominent women that inspired them each day and linked them to educational and economic opportunities. These young women have become the African young women voice and take to the fore any platform to articulate SRH issues of their peers and themselves. The young women have become leaders in their own communities and are now implementing various SRH projects on changing the lives of other young women. Additionally, the YPLA alumni are also championing various SRHR projects utilizing social, cultural, political and religious spaces. It is against this background that the SCORE programme seeks to scale up this programme to reach 200 young people over 5 years, the majority of whom will be young women (120 young women and 80 young men from marginalised groups), towards closing the prevailing gap in young women leaders driving the SRH agenda across the region. Lessons from the previous programmes will be considered to continuously inform and shape the YPLA, as SAfAIDS incorporates the post-2015 agenda into its work.

The Academy is based in Zimbabwe at the SAfAIDS Regional Office, and reaches out to the region from this central hub point.  The SAfAIDS YPLA has an African sense of ownership and resonance for all young women and men who become part of it.

Main Aim of the Academy

The Academy aims to strengthen transformational leadership capacities for young people to be able to make informed SRH choices at individual and family levels; consolidate their educational and economic status; and advocate for their SRH rights to protect them and their peers from HIV and SGBV and improve their SRH outcomes.


  • Equip young people in southern Africa with critical skills to lead in the SRHR field
  • Enhance mentees’ understanding of SRHR in the era of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  • Build advocacy and activism skills on SRHR issues
  • Provide platforms for young people to learn, share and take action on SRH and leadership information and experiences to widen their life choices and options
  • Link the young people to SAfAIDS mentors to ensure continued growth among the young leaders