She Conquers South Africa Campaign

Project Description

She Conquers Campaign Brief

Chiefly, the campaign strategy centred around the response to the National Department of Health’s call-to-action in respect to the controversy caused by a few She Conquers billboards messaging placed in different parts of South Africa. 

The said billboards bore the message: Who Said Girls Don’t Want to Be on Top? as a headline. The public expressed that the copy is laden with sexual innuendo. This caused a stir, with mainstream media also picking up the story. 

loveLife’s role was supporting the campaign (through Kwambele Social Marketing’s expertise), initiate a conversation with young people and put into perspective the National Department of Health’s call-to-action with regards to the focus of the campaign and the objectives set She Conquers has set to achieve.

The Campaign has five Objectives: 

  1. Reduce new HIV infections among girls and young women 
  2. Reduce the incidence of teenage pregnancy 
  3. Increase retention of girl learners in school until matric 
  4. Reduce sexual and gender-based violence experienced by girls and young women 
  5. Increase economic empowerment of girls and young women 

Organisation: loveLife 

She Conquers South Africa is a three-year national campaign to decrease HIV infections. These rates are often exacerbated by dropping out of school, sexual and gender-based-violence and limited opportunities for economic independence. 

The government then identified a need for the campaign whose objective is to Empower, Protect and Advance young girls and women in South Africa; 2018 is its last year. It is a coordinated initiative built to enable women to reach their potential and thus maximise their contribution into their communities. 

It is also to initiate conversations and impart knowledge around teenage pregnancy, sexual abuse / gender-based violence and other health issues affecting them; encourage them about the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle and staying in school — which is most important in the campaign’s objectives.

Executive Summary 

Summary of project undertaken and benefits achieved: 

With the campaign largely aimed at empowering adolescent girls and young women, it is being communicated through mediums that command young people’s attention, such as billboards, radio and as a last addition to the list, social media.

loveLife’s role was supporting the campaign (through Kwambele Social Marketing’s expertise), initiate a conversation with young people and put into perspective the National Department of Health’s call-to-action with regards to the controversy that erupted over a few #SheConquers billboards placed around the country. 

The digital approach to the delivery of the campaign then furthered efforts to promote education and resilience as a way to be healthy, attain success, be educated and break their susceptibility to violence. Social media opened up the campaign and exposed it to new audiences who had not seen it on other mediums (billboards and radio). 

At the back of empirical research that paints a gruesome picture of a disproportionate burden of HIV among 15 to 24-year-old adolescent girls and young women in South Africa, the National Department of Health introduced a campaign to spread a message to them – and young men – about the importance of staying in school, graduating and being healthy. 

Our contribution to the campaign from a media standpoint is as follows: 

  • Magnify the She Conquers message and create engagement with the right target audience using online media. 
  • Create and publish genuine stories and content based on the objectives. 
  • Use our long-standing relationship with South Africa’s youth and our speciality in framing honest conversations around promote health and active lifestyles through youth-based platforms. 
  • Have live events and extend that to radio – in response and support to loveLife radio programmes / broadcasts.

Purpose of Project / Business Challenge

The project was initiated because adolescent girls and young women are the future of South Africa, yet they face many challenges, such as High HIV infections; Unwanted pregnancy; Sexual and gender-based violence; High drop-out rate from school; Unemployment and poverty. 

This campaign adopted a targeted approach to scale up and fast track efforts to empower young people, especially adolescent girls and young women. High HIV incidences in young women and girls is compounded by high levels of teenage pregnancy, school drop-outs, and gender-based violence, and occurs in a context where there are limited economic opportunities for young people. These health and social problems are inextricably interlinked, and are driven by socio-behavioural and structural factors. 

The challenge came when one of She Conquers’ billboards caused national uproar and made news headlines. The billboard, which was placed in Johannesburg, read: “Who Says Girls Don’t Want to Be on Top?” 

It brought negative publicity to the campaign, which resulted in the campaign being rolled out on social media through loveLife, as an organisation that championed talking openly about sexual health and education in South Africa.

Stakeholders Involved

  • National Department of Health
  • She Conquers South Africa
  • loveLife
  • Kwambele Social Marketing

The primary target for this campaign is young women and girls aged 15 – 24 years. The secondary target group includes adolescent boys and young men aged 15 – 35. Boys and men between 15 and 35 are also included as they contribute to the cycle of new infections and pregnancies as well as sexual and gender based violence and are affected by low levels of employment. The campaign seeks to address particularly vulnerable groups including orphans and vulnerable children (OVC), youth that are not in employment, young sex workers, youth with disabilities and rural youth.

Communication is a key element of this campaign. The campaign strategy recognises the importance of mobilizing young women and girls, their social networks and peers, and their communities. The logo and name of the Campaign will be selected through a national competition that will be launched on 24 June 2016. The approach will not only allow young people from the length and breadth of the country to participate in naming the campaign but also raise awareness and interest in the campaign by all sectors of society.

In addition, audits of existing projects and programmes (whether government or NGO led) have been initiated in all districts. These audits indicate the much is being done but with little co-ordination between and among projects. Besides bringing new approaches and resources, one of the key objectives of this campaign is to ensure that we join up of dots, that is create synergies to ensure that the maximum value from investments is achieved. Led by the Office of the Premier in each province, District and Provincial AIDS Councils will play a lead role in coordinating Campaign activities.

The three-year campaign, running from June 2016 to July 2019, will be phased in and implemented in all districts in South Africa. The first phase will prioritise 51 sub-districts that have been selected because of the high HIV prevalence, teenage pregnancy and orphan hood among young women and girls. The Campaign will be steered and managed by a national steering committee that brings together government, civil society, development partners and the private sector. The Campaign will intensify efforts to coordinate and create synergy across all current sectors and programmes working with young people to foster a targeted, coordinated and evidence based response. All stakeholders must help to deliver the comprehensive package of interventions in a coordinated fashion, to deliver a country-owned and country-led response to address the needs of young women and girls.


Overall, the aim to broaden the campaign’s exposure and capture youth opinion and their understanding of the messaging. And then, where necessary, direct them to loveLife touch points and support through our services and programmes implemented nationally. We have hundreds of young people known groundBREAKERs and mpintshi’s around the country whose purpose is to engage and educate their peers about staying in school, sport and promote healthy and active lifestyles. 

The campaign also serves to offer the following solutions to young people and by extension, the message needed to be presented in an engaging way online to support the other mediums of communication. 

Help adolescent girls and young women … 

  • Gain enough knowledge to avoid HIV and other STIs 
  • Avoid unwanted pregnancy 
  • Stay in school until the end 
  • Stand against sexual and gender based violence 
  • Access educational and economic opportunities 

How will She Conquers help adolescent girls and young women? 

  • Increase access to services – health, educational, job and academic 
  • Listen to young people – to learn what their needs are 
  • Work together so goals can be reached 
  • Ensure a core set of interventions is offered to all target populations and a set of interventions offered to specific groups 

From our view, having championed the difficult transition and practice of openly talking about sex education, we understood how young people talk and understand messaging, especially around matters considered taboo. This is one of the reasons we have been able to deliver the campaign through various digital platforms and exposed it to more young people (and those who are not the target audience, so that everyone understands that the overall objective is to accelerate young women, not mislead them. 

The campaign adopted a focused approach to scale up and fast-track efforts to empower young people. See the objectives of the campaign below: 

  1. Reduce new HIV infections among girls and young women. 
  2. Reduce teenage pregnancies, particularly among girls less than 18 years old. 
  3. Communicate the importance of keeping girls in school until matric; and increase the retention of adolescent girls and young women in school. 
  4. Help cut back sexual and gender-based-violence against women. 
  5. Increase economic opportunities for young people (especially young women) 

Benefits / Business Case

The need to empower young people (in the case of She Conquers, women particularly) for a better tomorrow is connected both to the financial improvement as well as the increase of the standard of living. Awareness is a key factor for this empowerment, with guidance towards developing a wholesome outlook of life and young girls who can create and seize their opportunities for growth. 

Youth empowerment is necessary not only for national development of a country but also for personal development of individuals. Through She Conquers, youth empowerment is pursued by promoting youth rights, education, eradicating new HIV infections and teenage pregnancies and creating economic opportunities for them. Such empowerment is a necessary process of fostering values to equip young women to lead a life that enables them to grow and be part of the economy of the country. At present, it is one of the most effective means South Africa possesses to confront the challenges of the future for adolescent girls and young women.

Here are a few important reasons and benefits of the delivery of the She Conquers campaign:

Decent education standards 

Empowerment can help youth to understand the importance of education that leads to social improvement of the country.

Good governance 

With the promotion of youth empowerment, the youth can be equipped to reject the status quo and pave a path for a better future

Poverty eradication 

Youth empowerment, overtime, can help reduce the rate of poverty to a significant level. 

One of the keys to empowering the youth is with skills development. When a youth is equipped with essential skills, they can utilise them to feed, assist others, and even invest for future use, aiding the nation economically. She Conquers’ insistence of staying in school until matric is directly related to the eventual eradication of poverty for women.

Crime reduction 

  • Empowerment ensures that youth has the necessary skill to sustain a livelihood, preventing them to adopt the path of crime to sustain themselves. 
  • It is easy for a young and impressionable mind to get trapped in anti-social activities because they are not empowered morally, academically and financially. There are serious social and economic consequences associated with not addressing the youth who is at the risk of negative circumstances. Empowerment enables a young mind to differentiate the wrong from the right, denouncing the path of injustice for a respectable living. 
  • Today, young minds should have access to resources to transform their education and self-awareness through their beliefs, values, and attitudes. 
  • As She Conquers is an ongoing campaign, the following targets have been set through our communication of the campaign messaging: 
  • Decrease new HIV infections in adolescent girls and young women by at least 30 percent from 90,000 per year to less than 60,000 per year 
  • Decrease teen pregnancies, in particular decrease under-18 deliveries from 73,000 by at least 30 percent to 50,000 
  • Increase retention of adolescent girls and young women in schools by 20 percent 
  • Decrease sexual and gender-based violence among adolescent girls and young women by 10 percent 
  • Increase economic opportunities for young people, particularly for young women, by increasing youth employment by 10 percent 

Why Focus on Youth?

Moreover, the youth represent an interesting research area because: 

  1. They are challengers and pioneers, early adopters of technology and eager to change/re-invent the rules. 
  2. They are generally (and traditionally) considered a difficult target to access and communicate with. 
  3. They are a truly global segment since they share similar tastes and preferences in terms of brands, sites and interests worldwide. 
  4. They can provide indications of trends of how digital technologies may be exploited in the future. 
  5. They are used to getting what they want. In this materialistic world, their wishes become mandatory. 
  6. The current internet-generations will be the future leaders / deciders / buyers. E.g. the young South African adults who grew up in the digital era maintain their digital technological 

Project Details

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More Information

  • Content Producers: Themba Ndlangamandla, Linda Simelane, Tommy Makhobela and loveLife Communications Team 
  • Project Manager: Linda Simelane
  • Creative Direction: Maatla Seetelo
  • Design & Layout: Carl Ramolefi
  • Photography: Maatla Seetelo & Carl Ramolefi
  • Animator: Jonas as The Adventures of Noko Mashaba
  • Influencer: Stopnonsons as Juamaima