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Plan International

Worldwide annual review 2015

Plan International in 2015

We are an independent child rights and humanitarian organisation committed to children living a life free of poverty, violence and injustice. We support children to gain the skills, knowledge and confidence they need to claim their rights to a fulfilling life, today and in the future. We place a specific focus on girls and women, who are most often left behind.

Building powerful partnerships with and for children for more than 75 years

Active in 71 countries

Supporters sponsor 1.4 million children

Trained 715,577 people

Global spend €810 million

Global income €822 million

Worked in 85,280 communities

Partnerships with 39,748 governments and organisations

From the chair

Joshua Liswood
Two smiling children in front of a Plan International banner

It is my pleasure to provide this first message since becoming Chair of Plan International in November 2014. We have seen the International Board undertake much work on the future delivery of our goal to transform children's lives. An important step this year has been the launch of a new global brand identity to focus our federation's voice and impact.

The International Board has also focused on charting Plan International's next global strategic direction. We recognise the world we work in is changing. The traditional goals, priorities and relationships necessary to deliver our promise to children who represent the poorest and the most marginalised must also change. In order to develop a clear roadmap for the development of our next strategic plan, we will revisit Plan International's mission and vision so as to ensure a strong and current foundation for our federation in this very important work.

Another priority this year has been the recruitment and appointment of a new CEO to replace Nigel Chapman on his retirement. I am pleased to say the Board was successful with the selection of Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, a hugely capable development professional who will lead our organisation's transformation and the implementation of the strategy we are developing.

Joshua Liswood

Chair, International Board and Members' Assembly

From the CEO

Anne Birgitte
Joshua Liswood

I am very pleased to introduce this review of Plan International's important work. I would like to pay a special and warm tribute to Nigel Chapman, who led the organisation during the year under review. The results achieved are in no small way attributable to his leadership of the organisation from 2008-2015.

On my arrival in September 2015, I began to build on the strengths I inherited, including the powerful impact, partnerships and bold ideas which are showcased in these pages. Plan International plays a crucial global role in promoting human rights and engaging the energy of children and young people for positive change.

We strongly believe in inclusion and equal opportunities for all children and therefore give priority attention to those most discriminated against. Our focus on investing in girls and young women will help bring about the transformative change the planet needs.

Help us make a difference, so all children can fulfil their dreams.

Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen

Chief Executive Officer

“I want to be amongst the girls driving the change we want to see in our schools, communities, countries and the whole world.

“We must work with our parents, communities and traditional leaders to enlighten them about the real value of girls. Each and every one of us has a contribution to make, and my contribution is not only in the household.

“Governments should fully implement the policies and laws that have been put in place for girls' rights. They should be stronger in the fight against female genital mutilation, child marriage and violence against girls.”

Hope, 15, Kenya

Plan International youth delegate at the Commission on the Status of Women

Our because I am a girl campaign

Supporting millions of girls to get the education, skills and support they need to transform their lives and the world around them

Find out more about our campaign

  • Influenced laws and policies benefiting over 151 million girls and boys*
  • 30 projects to end child marriage in 20 countries reaching over 150,000 girls*
  • 3 million girls reached by programmes promoting their rights, including protection, education and participation*

*By end-May 2014

Hear our voices

We spoke with more than 7,000 girls and boys in 11 countries in one of the largest studies of adolescent girls' rights of its kind.

  • 1 in 3 girls said they never speak up in front of boys
  • Half of girls never or seldom get to decide on becoming pregnant
  • 58% of girls never or seldom return to school after having a child

Historic decisions on early marriage

We helped push through the UN General Assembly's strongest resolution to date on early, child, and forced marriage, urging all states to enact, enforce and uphold laws and policies aimed at preventing and ending the practice.

Global goals for girls' education

“The majority of girls in my community want an education, but too many things hold us back,” said Rose, 18, from the Philippines, one of our youth delegates at the World Education Forum.

Plan International was at the forum to ensure girls' right to a safe, quality education formed a substantial part of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Day of the Girl 2014

  • We lit up national monuments in Because I am a Girl pink and presented the UN with 2.3 million hands raised in support of quality education for girls.
  • The #ItsAGirlThing video, created in partnership with YouTubers and featuring contributions from girls in many countries, quickly gained half a million views on YouTube.
  • Plan International Norway's social media campaign Stop the Wedding shared the wedding preparations of a 12-year-old Norwegian girl. It caused an uproar, highlighting the daily challenges girls face around the world.


“We knew an earthquake could happen so we prepared with simulations and training. When the disaster struck, we immediately deployed 35 locally trained staff. The systems we put in place with other Plan International offices provided rapid collaboration and additional resources, helping us reach over 8,600 children with learning and psychosocial support within the first 8 weeks.”

Mattias Bryneson,
Country Director,
Plan International Nepal

  • €145 million invested in the right to protection and assistance before, during and after emergencies
  • 51 disaster response programmes carried out globally
  • 16,765 people trained to respond to the Ebola outbreak in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea

Safe schools

A group of five schoolchildren

Joined-up approach to disastersOur Safe Schools Global Programme aims to protect children's lives by building safe infrastructure, as well as educating children on early warning, evacuation and wider safety measures.

Partnership builds safety culturePlan International Hong Kong's partnership with the Prudence Foundation, the charitable arm of Prudential Corporation Asia, supports children in particularly vulnerable parts of Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines to develop a safe school environment.
“We believe the best results come from governments, humanitarian organisations and the private sector working together,” says Marc Fancy, Executive Director of the Prudence Foundation.

Children as agents of changeChildren are central to our resilience programmes. In Indonesia, where the risk of flooding is high, students are using theatre and presentations to help others prepare for disasters.
Through our partnership with the Prudence Foundation, over 7,000 students have learned how to be safer in emergencies. Our global work has reached 622,000 children in 33 countries.

Healthy start in life

“The knowledge from the parenting groups helped change my mind. I realised I should speak to my children more positively and really prioritise their health. My husband used to think the centre was extra work and he didn't want me involved. Before I would just let my children run around in the field. I did not worry about their safety. At home, I used to shout at them. But that's all changed.”

Aye Phyu,
from Myanmar

Active member of a Plan International-supported parenting group in Rakhine State, Myanmar.

  • €118 million invested in the right to a healthy start in life
  • 225,774 professional and volunteer health workers trained
  • 10,760 health and early childhood care centres constructed or improved

Engaging men in early childhood care and development

A father and child

Understanding men's roleResearch shows that male support before and after birth improves the health of children, mothers and fathers, results in less violence towards children, boosts economic security and empowers girls.

Partnership with fathersWith funding from the Canadian government via Plan International Canada, our early years project in Bolivia is delivered in 26 municipalities by trained community delegates. Workshops and clubs help men to promote good nutrition, assist with birth preparations, and provide partners with emotional and practical support during pregnancy and after birth.

Transforming the youngest livesWe worked with communities in Bolivia to improve over 160 children's centres. These help children develop and promote greater equality between boys and girls.
“The project changed my parents and now they know how important my health and education is,' says Ana, 5, who attends one of the centres. “My dad plays with me, changes my clothes and also helps my mum at home.”


“I had never been to school before but I like coming here. I think less about the war in my country when I am in school. I love coming here because I make new friends and learn to speak and write in French.”

Nastou, 13, from the Central African Republic

Attends a Plan International temporary learning centre in a refugee camp in Cameroon

  • €99 million invested in the right to education
  • 112,489 education workers trained
  • 2,390 schools constructed or rehabilitated

Child-friendly schools

A group of youths walking away from a school

Innovate to educatePlan International is fixing the issues that stop vulnerable children in Cambodia attending school. Our innovative School Monitoring Tool is used by children to identify areas of concern ranging from sanitation to quality of teaching and the need for scholarships.

Partnering with governmentThe programme, supported by Plan International UK in partnership with Cambodia's Ministry of Education, is creating a child-friendly environment in 48 schools.

A better life at schoolChan Raksar, leader of her school's Children's Council, says hygiene was one of the first issues addressed: “People were getting sick from food and going home because the school was dirty. The teacher gave us time to raise the issues. Now it's much cleaner.”
Two thirds of the primary schools have shown an increase in enrolment rates and half the secondary schools have shown an improvement in drop-out rates.

Participation as a citizen

“Each and every child has a right to be registered at birth. Proof of age is important to get the right support when you are sick or need help from the government. So I say to my neighbours, ‘Within 45 days of birth, please make sure your baby has been registered.' In future, this birth registration card will help that child, kind of like a friend.”

Lakkhan, 14,
from Bangladesh

Works with a Plan International children's group to support birth registration and stop child marriages.

  • €63 million invested in the right to participate as a citizen

Winning role for youth in global development
As a result of our advocacy work with our partners and youth, children are recognised as ‘critical agents of change' in the final draft of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals. This will help ensure young people are seen as partners in development, consulted by their national governments and engaged in implementing the goals.

Support for children with disabilities

Children with disabilities playing together

United to overcome exclusionWe help young people with disabilities in Togo to access education, health services and work. Our community-based programme is backed by a Finnish government grant, with support from partner NGOs and the Togolese government.

Inclusion leads to insightThrough children's and parent's clubs in 32 communities, children are encouraged to take part in the decisions that influence their lives. Girls with disabilities are particularly vulnerable and we emphasise the need to educate and include women in decision-making.

Preparation for a better futureThe programme has changed the lives of more than 3,500 children with disabilities. Richala, 17, can neither speak nor hear as a consequence of childhood meningitis. “She was very shy and lonely,” says her aunt. With our support, Richala has trained for 4 years as a hairdresser. She plans to start her own business.

Economic security

“I was sponsored until I was 18 years old. After that, with the help of a Plan International scholarship, I finished high school. One day someone told me Plan International was providing courses... I signed up for a course in cookery. Now thanks to them I am starting my own bakery business. Because of the money my business is earning, I will be able to continue studying... and I can help my family with their daily expenses, especially the study costs for my younger brothers.”

Luceli, from El Salvador

  • €47 million invested in the right to economic security
  • 1,274,811 people engaged in savings groups
  • 76,352 people trained in vocational and business skills

Future for youth in savings groups

People gathered around a bowl containing savings

Corporate coalitions support youthUganda's Working Future project, supported by Plan International Sweden and Accenture, builds opportunities for young people through corporate partnerships.
Jill Huntley, managing director of Global Corporate Citizenship at Accenture, explains: “Together with Plan International, we are helping connect youth to the digital world – enabling access to technology that was previously unattainable and equipping them with skills to create a more secure future for themselves, their families and communities.”

Intelligent solutionsSavings groups help young people access business capital, training and mentoring, along with private sector and local government support. They also foster innovation: a service enabling savings groups to store funds on mobile phones, developed with Airtel Uganda and Grameen Foundation, offers increased security and access to formal financial institutions.

Shaping the futureBy the end of the Working Future project in 2016, 400 youth-led savings associations, 800 youth-led producer groups, 600 micro franchises and 240 job placements will have been established, benefiting over 12,000 young people.

Child protection

“I want all girls to go to school and get married when they are ready, with the person they have chosen. When I'm contacted by a victim, I speak first with the advisor for child protection at Plan International, and then I also inform the police. The number of cases is reduced, but there are still girls who are victims of early marriage or other kinds of abuse here in our community, and we must do something for them.”

Maimouna, 15, from Guinea-Bissau

Activist against early marriage and an active member of Plan International's Girls Making Media project

  • €43 million invested in the right to child protection
  • 51,299 members of staff of partner organisations trained
  • 168,620 community members trained

Community-based child protection

A woman in a Plan backpack looks back toward the camera

Understanding local solutionsCommunities have established ways to protect children from abuse, neglect, violence and exploitation. Our programmes reinforce these structures to help protect children where the state lacks sufficient means.

Connections with communitiesWe engage traditional leaders, parents, teachers and carers to prevent sexual violence, child labour, early marriage and trafficking, and to champion non-abusive parenting. We support more than 15,000 of these community organisations.

Positive changes in MalawiIn Malawi, traditional leaders are helping reduce child marriage. Theresa John Ndovie, a chief from Dedza district, annulled 330 child marriages in 2015, with the support of mothers' groups, community child protection committees, faith leaders and local NGOs. All the children enrolled back in school.
“Traditional leaders have a big role to play in ending harmful cultural practices that perpetrate violence against women, girls and boys. We should spearhead change in our communities,” she says.
Over 500,000 children are protected in Malawi by such community measures.

Water and sanitation

  • €54 million invested in the right to water and sanitation
  • 752,997 households supported to improve their sanitation
  • 2,600 water points constructed or improved

The pan Africa sanitation programme The Pan-Africa sanitation programme

Powered by multi-level partnershipCommunity-led total sanitation works to stop open-air defecation and improve sanitation without external subsidies. Our programme across Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Zambia, Malawi, Ghana and Niger is led by Plan International Netherlands, backed by the Dutch government, in partnership with the Institute of Development Studies and the IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre.

Led by experience and researchPlan International Netherlands' Sharon Roose says: “We bring partners together regularly to share lessons learnt, innovations and best practices. This helps spread experiences such as natural leaders' networks which have been established with help from the country team in Ethiopia. These networks support communities to stay open-defecation free and thus ensure sustainability.”

Large-scale transformation for childrenThe project has helped almost 1,200 communities and nearly 600 schools to gain open-defecation free status, affecting 2.2 million people. Eight African governments have adopted our approaches in their sanitation strategies and budget decisions.

Find out more about our work in water and sanitation

Sexual and reproductive health

  • €25 million invested in the right to sexual and reproductive health
  • Sexual and reproductive health programmes, including family planning, in 41 countries
  • HIV/Aids prevention and care programmes in 33 countries

Karen, 14, from Nicaragua's North Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region

“When a girl becomes pregnant in this community, the boy's parents generally take charge. If they do not agree with the pregnancy, they will perform an abortion, which is dangerous. In our youth group, supported by Plan International, we learn about the risks of teenage pregnancy, but more still needs to be done. We need more education on sexual health and we want our parents to feel comfortable talking to us about it.”

Find out more our work in sexual and reproductive health

Young agents for change

“We are providing psychosocial support to 100 Ebola-affected families in Monrovia, so they can live with hope and dignity, and recover from the impact of the disease.

“We have been given training to support children in this crisis and now we give psychological first aid and distribute food and other items to families in need. Most Ebola survivors began to lose hope due to stigmatisation and rejection by family members and communities. We see support for child survivors as one of the best means of recovery.

“Each member of our team shows real passion, commitment and enthusiasm for what we are doing and it makes us feel a part of the fight against Ebola.”

Henry, 18, Liberia

Henry, 18, Liberia

Member of the National Children and Youth Advisory Board of Liberia, a group sponsored by Plan International, speaking in January 2015

This review covers the period 1 July 2014 to 30 June 2015.