The 'Wathintha abafazi wathintha imbokodo' slogan which loosely translated means "if you strike a woman, you strike a rock" reverberated around the Merafong Sports Compex in Carletonville chanted by women and girls as different speakers took to the podium and urged them to "know their inner strength" as part of the ZAZI campaign
Organised by Mothusimpilo, a local public health organisation in partnership with Merafong District, Zazi is a campaign designed by women for women and seeks to encourage women and girls to draw on their inner strength, power, and self-confidence to know themselves and what they stand for in order to guide their decisions about their sexual and reproductive health, including HIV prevention. .
Speaking at the launch ceremony Merafong District Head of Health Promotion Sam Seleke encouraged women and girls to embrace the initiative.
"We call all women and girls to equip themselves with the information and knowledge that Zazi stands for and to make use of the available services in our area.
"This launch marks the beginning of a new era for women and girls in Merafong and all what we need to do is to learn from this initiative improve the lives of women and girls in our communities", he said.
Echoing his statement was Mothusimpilo director, Zodwa Mzaidume who took the audience on a journey through her personal life, from her childhood, teenage to adult life.
"Never allow anyone other than yourself to dictate your own future. All that we need to do is to take responsibility for our own lives. Be yourself don't allow your friend or boyfriend to dictate who you should be. I have beaten all odds coming from a poor background but I have never allowed anyone to dictate to me who I wanted to be. The future lies in your hands".
Zazi ambassador Wandisa Bangani told the thrilled audiences about what the Zazi campaign stands for and urged them to embrace the campaign that is geared to empower women about their health and to discourage young girls from being in a relationship with older men.
"This campaign is for us women and girls. It challenges us in a number of aspects such as relationships, health and also leading lives that are exemplary to the community that we come from. Today the launch of Zazi means that as women and girls of Merafong we will never be the same".
While the formal proceedings took place in the packed hall at the Merafong Sports Complex, some participants opted to take up HIV test at the mobile clinic.
Zazi is funded by the USAID/JHU HIV Communication Programme South Africa and implemented by Johns Hopkins Health and Education in South Africa in partnership with the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC), the SANAC Women's Sector, the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilties, the Department of Health and several NGOs across South Africa.