The Grand Prize winner of the 2015 Global Dialogues story-creating contest, mega-talented Nancy Saili of Zambia, has done it again. From among 130 submissions, this superb writer’s essay was one of 12 selected as winners of the DREAMS writing challenge organized by the US Embassy in Zambia. Nancy submitted a piece in response to the question: “What is your dream for young women in Zambia, and how can you (as an individual) help make this dream a reality?”

Here is the full text of Nancy’s inspiring essay:


By Nancy Saili

Growing up I never really learnt a lot about issues of HIV/AIDS or teen pregnancies. Teachers and parents usually shy away from such topics and if you have no interest in joining an anti-aids club in school, chances are you will have little or no information on the topic. This lack of information is what is killing us. Girls need to be empowered, mentored and educated about issues that they are most vulnerable to or are affected by. As females we need to make informed decisions that will shape our future and the future of everyone in a good way.

My dream for young girls and women in Zambia is that they are well educated and equipped with knowledge about sexual and reproductive issues, that they can freely speak and enquire about these topics without fear of discrimination, being judged or fear of breaking tradition/taboo. That young girls will learn to stand up and have the power to decide not to have sex. That women will learn to use protection and not be shy to ask their partner to use a condom rather than risk getting infected or unplanned pregnancies. That they will have the ability to identify and overcome sexual challenges.

I dream of a Zambia where young girls will grow up (with the help of family, friends, and the society at large) into empowered women who have the courage and confidence to make positive choices that will help them have a healthy transition from childhood to adolescence to adulthood. Women are the heart of our nation. when a female falls pregnant and positive with little or no information about HIV/AIDS, they risk giving birth to children who are infected or pass it on during breastfeeding. and if these children grow up without knowing about the dangers of HIV, they may carelessly pass it on to others through unprotected sex in which case the virus spreads even more making it hard to fight HIV/AIDS and get to an aids free future. The condition of girls and women in Zambia will have either a negative or positive effect on the HIV status of the country as a whole.

I can help make this dream a reality by being an activist. I want to help work towards achieving an aids free future for my fellow girls and women. Helping champion campaigns targeted at empowering and educating girls on sexual reproductive healthcare issues whether on social media, in my blogs, on radio or during activities/campaigns held around the country. I can lead by example and lead a responsible, healthy and safe life and serve as an inspiration and a role model to other girls around the country. By connecting with women and fellow activists and working with them towards achieving an aids free future for girls and women as well as encourage young girls to stay in school and not fall prey to pressure from friends. By joining organizations that aim at educating girls and women, as well as ensuring that they have access to enough information and services of sexual and reproductive healthcare. And finally encouraging family, friends and the community not just women but men as well to actively support the education and empowerment of females. I am and will continue to be a strong voice for women.