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Our year advancing equality for girls

Plan International Worldwide Annual Review 2018

We strive for a just world that advances children’s rights and equality for girls

Our purpose

In the first year of our global strategy we have focused world attention on the fundamental injustices girls face.

Foreword by our CEO and Chair


Plan International’s Global Strategy to 2022

This year we started implementing our new strategy to advance children’s rights and equality for girls, worldwide. Our work is inspired by the United Nations’ Global Goals, and in particular, the Global Goal of gender equality by 2030. Without equality, no other goal can be truly met.

Our ambition is to transform the lives of 100 million girls through our strategy.

Up to 2022 we will:

  • Deliver greater impact for vulnerable children, especially girls.
  • Influence greater change at local and global levels
  • Transform girls’ lives

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Over 80 years of building partnerships to transform children’s lives

Plan International Annual Review in 2018

This review covers the period 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2018.

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A year of global action for girls’ rights

Oct 2017: #GirlsTakeover
Feb 2018: #WeAreTheNext education finance campaign
Feb 2018:
Mar 2018: Sheboard
Apr 2018: Data-driven advocacy
Jun 2018: Girls’ education in emergencies

Our main areas of work

Quality, inclusive education

We want vulnerable and excluded children, particularly girls, to have the education they need to succeed in life. This means promoting quality education that is accessible to all.

The world today

Though enrolment in education has risen dramatically across the world since the start of the millennium, too many children are still missing out due to their gender or disability or because they are living in conflict or crisis. Over 260 million children aged 6-17 are out of school globally. In addition, while more children are accessing education, the quality of the education they receive still needs to improve.

Work in 2018

Our work aims to remove barriers that prevent vulnerable children, especially girls, from learning, and to provide education that responds to their needs. We have established partnerships with education ministries in many countries, and are working to provide education for growing numbers of internally displaced children and refugees. Plan International offices in Belgium, Ireland, France, Spain and Switzerland have come together to support our global efforts on education programming, and influencing education policy and practice.

Global snapshots

Promoting quality education for all: We are helping teachers support children from a range of backgrounds. We promoted conflict-sensitive teaching methods to support Syrian refugees in Egypt to learn alongside Egyptian students. In Vietnam, we helped break down language barriers that prevent teachers supporting ethnic minority children, increasing enrolment by 10%. In Central African Republic, a learning programme brought 715 out-of-school children into formal education.

Influencing government spending and policies: In Bolivia, we supported education councils and student governments to lobby their local governments for more funding. Governments in five municipalities provided funding for projects providing inclusive, quality secondary education. We successfully advocated in Liberia for greater inclusion of gender, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and school safety in national education policy. In Myanmar we advocated alongside UNICEF and others for more Muslim women to be trained as teachers. The Ministry of Education is beginning to cover their salaries.

Scaling up work on gender and inclusion: By partnering with education ministries, we have scaled up work on gender and inclusion in many countries worldwide. In El Salvador, the partnership has allowed us to implement a programme in 92 schools promoting girls’ participation in leadership and decision-making. In Malawi, we collaborated with the Ministry of Education to tackle misconceptions about menstrual hygiene, reducing barriers to girls’ attendance at school.

Supporting education in emergencies: As part of the Rohingya refugee response in Bangladesh, we are providing learning in ways that compensate for the lack of space in camps and the cultural barriers that prevent girls from learning. In Burundian refugee camps in Tanzania, we tested an innovative early learning programme in 25 centres that focused on psychosocial support and on children’s social and emotional skills.

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Skills and decent work

We want vulnerable and excluded young people, especially young women, to be resilient, gain knowledge and skills, access opportunities and engage actively in decent work of their choosing.

The world today

Globally 71 million young people are unemployed, with numbers increasing in many parts of the world. Many who are employed are defined as ‘working poor’, still living in poverty, with young women, in particular, less able to access employment and other economic opportunities, and more vulnerable to unsafe workplaces. As technology advances, artificial intelligence offers opportunities for work but could also pose a threat to the workforce.

Work in 2018

We work with communities, the private sector, governments, and others to drive changes that foster an accessible, youth-friendly world of work with equal opportunities for men and women. Our offices in Australia and the Netherlands have teamed up with our Asia region to provide skills and opportunities for youth employment and entrepreneurship, with a focus on supporting girls to access education and training, and young women to find decent work.

Global snapshots

Supporting vulnerable young people, especially young women, to make a decent living: A technical institute in Ghana set up in collaboration with Hyundai and the Korea International Cooperation Agency is training young women in auto-engineering, while in Vietnam we have established a network with more than 100 business leaders to collaborate on training and job opportunities for female migrant workers and vulnerable young people in cities. We are working with the private sector to promote gender equality in the workplace, for example in Brazil, where companies we have linked with have become more open to recruiting young women. In El Salvador, we set up Plan Store, an innovative social enterprise that supports young entrepreneurs by marketing their products.

Working with young people through savings groups: We support young people to increase financial literacy, build savings and access loans for entrepreneurial opportunities. In Burkina Faso, we have helped create safe spaces for young women to participate in savings groups, on-the-job training, and access support and mentoring, while savings groups in Sudan have empowered young women economically with a social fund to help them set up and run small businesses.

Building skills for life and work: We are harnessing technology to support young people to build their employment skills, for example in the Philippines, where a partnership with Accenture has helped roll out a Facebook chatbot that young people can use to create an employability profile. In Dominican Republic, a partnership with the Community Technology Centre has created a space for young entrepreneurs to share ideas, and access mentoring and networking. In Rwanda, we provided vocational skills training to young people living in refugee camps, including young mothers.

Influencing spending and policies that support youth employment: Advocacy efforts in Myanmar have secured land valued at $270,000 to build a training centre for youth employment and entrepreneurship, while in Tanzania, we brought young people and government officials together to discuss the district Youth Development Funds which support income generation. The government agreed to reduce the interest rate on loans to zero, increasing young people’s access to this resource. We have successfully influenced the Philippines’ Chamber of Commerce to promote gender inclusion in the workplace with initiatives including anti-sexual harassment policies and inclusive hiring processes.

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Young people driving change

We want girls, boys and young people to have the power to take action on issues that matter to them. We want them to shape the decisions that affect their lives by leading change within their own communities and influencing decisions at higher levels.

The world today

People’s rights to speak out are frequently repressed around the globe, and young people, especially girls, are least likely to be heard. Organisations and power-holders are increasingly engaging with young people, but activities are often symbolic and don’t lead to meaningful change that places greater power in young people’s hands.

Work in 2018

Plan International Germany, our Nordic offices and our offices for the EU and Latin America and the Caribbean are collaborating to support our work encouraging youth-led collective action on issues that affect young people. We increasingly work in partnership with young people’s organisations. We create spaces for young people, especially girls, in public decision-making processes and support them to advocate for change that advances gender equality and the rights of young people.

Global snapshots

Supporting young people to influence decision-makers: We worked in partnership with a network of young people’s organisations in Paraguay to gain commitments on young people’s rights from the main presidential candidates, and supported young people’s organisations in Nepal to successfully lobby for local funding. In Indonesia, we supported a youth group to advocate for climate change and disaster risk reduction to be included in their village budgeting plan.

Nurturing girls’ rights movements: In Vietnam, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Egypt, Zimbabwe, Bolivia, Paraguay and Brazil we have intensified our support for networks that connect young people, as well as linking them with adult decision-makers and civil society. In Brazil and Bangladesh we are testing digital platforms to connect young people advocating for change. We supported girls in Togo who formed their own organisation and led a digital campaign on gender-based violence and child marriage, after being involved in International Day of the Girl takeovers. Their campaign reached 45,000 people. In Egypt, we facilitated discussions between young people and media professionals challenging the images of girls presented by the media.

Strengthening young people’s roles in humanitarian action and building community resilience: In Sierra Leone, young people set up Community Disaster Risk Management teams aiming to reduce the risks from flooding and increase community awareness. Girls and boys in Bolivia carried out awareness-raising activities in 92 schools to learn how education can continue if disaster strikes and to develop school safety plans, while members of youth clubs in Sudan and South Sudan have provided training to their peers on promoting peace, child rights and child protection.

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Sexual and reproductive health and rights

We want vulnerable and excluded children, particularly girls, to have control over their lives and bodies. We want them to be able to make informed choices about identity and relationships, and if and when to have children.

The world today

Every year there are 9.6 million pregnancies among adolescent girls. Around half of these are unintended. Complications due to pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death for older adolescent girls. Ensuring that girls have access to sex education, contraceptive choice and safe abortion is critical to achieving their rights to sexual and reproductive health and gender equality. These rights are under attack across the world.

Work in 2018

We work to eliminate harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM), and attitudes, beliefs and practices that limit girls’ rights. Our work also aims to reduce unintended adolescent pregnancies, increase access to quality sexual and reproductive health services, and deliver comprehensive education about sexuality in schools and out of schools.

Global snapshots

Eliminating harmful practices: All our regions scaled up work on addressing child, early and forced marriage. In Benin, we are supporting dialogue between different generations on child marriage, and radio broadcasts have helped increase the number of cases reported. In Vietnam, we established 53 new girls’ clubs to take action to prevent child marriage. We worked with adolescent girls from local and refugee populations in Lebanon to help them make informed decisions about marriage and having children. An FGM project in Guinea reached 50 communities with information on alternative methods of initiation, protecting 400 girls from FGM. The practice was declared to be abandoned in 11 villages.

Reducing unintended adolescent pregnancy: We reached almost 7,000 adolescents over four years in Ecuador to discuss their sexual and reproductive rights, including working with boys to challenge harmful gender stereotypes. In all 11 provinces, we saw a reduction in adolescent pregnancies. In Nicaragua, a mobile phone app was launched on pregnancy prevention for adolescents, and in Peru, we launched a project called ‘We Decide’ to reach 59,000 young people over 4 years with information and services to help reduce adolescent pregnancy.

Promoting sexual and reproductive health services, information and education for adolescents: We influenced the national curriculum in several countries to provide comprehensive sexuality education. In El Salvador the new curriculum reached more than 5,000 children. Working with Marie Stopes and with young people, we created an app in Timor-Leste that allows girls to engage with health care staff and track their periods, and in Togo, we set up mobile clinics offering information, contraception and STI testing to adolescents. We supported young refugees from Central African Republic in Cameroon with kits to help manage personal and menstrual hygiene, and contraception.

Influencing laws, policies and budgets: We influenced the National Health Strategy in Bangladesh to include adolescent-friendly health services, while in Uganda, our advocacy led one district to allocate budgets to family planning services for the first time. A successful campaign in Timor-Leste opposed a draft policy to make modern contraception available only to married women. In Sudan, we worked with the National Council of Child Welfare to push MPs for plans on enforcing laws and policies for the abandonment of FGM. In Egypt, we led advocacy on FGM at multiple levels including changing parents’ beliefs and engaging directly with parliamentarians.

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Early childhood development

We want vulnerable and excluded young children, particularly girls, to grow up well cared for and equally valued.

The world today

Some 85 percent of children in low-income countries do not have access to preschool education. It is estimated 250 million under-fives in low- and middle-income countries risk not reaching their developmental potential due to factors such as poor health and nutrition, violence and lack of care and stimulation. The Nurturing Care Framework launched in response to these challenges by The World Health Organization, UNICEF, World Bank and the Early Childhood Development Action Network set out the importance of supporting caregivers to provide care to young children and the role of the health sector in early childhood.

Work in 2018

We work with parents and families to promote care for young girls and boys, encompassing play, love, health, nutrition and protection. We support community-led early learning, maternal, new-born and child health and nutrition and sanitation programmes. We influence decision-makers to support better early childhood development policies and to expand access to quality services that give children the best start. All our work focuses on promoting gender equality and men’s positive engagement in care.

Global snapshots

Working with parents/caregivers to promote nurturing care for girls and boys, free from gender-bias: In China, we worked with nearly 60 community child development networks and over 200 kindergartens to offer a parenting programme, and our approach focused on gender and protection has been integrated into a government initiative. In Vietnam, we worked with the Women’s Union to implement a parenting programme reaching 1,600 villages, with the aim of going nationwide eventually. In Kenya, our work with nearly 400 parenting groups has had a strong focus on promoting men’s engagement in the care of their children, with families reporting their increased involvement. In Brazil, we have focused on the equal rights of young girls and boys to play, and promoting male caregivers’ involvement in play and care.

Supporting community-managed programmes: In Bangladesh, we supported over 1,700 community early learning centres, handing a third of these over to local management. In Mozambique, we partnered with 134 communities implementing community-managed early learning centres, supporting a number of these to be disability-inclusive. In conflict-affected and food-insecure states in north-east Nigeria, we have supported screening for more than 22,000 children under 5, treatment of children with severe malnutrition and the work of 480 volunteer lead mothers to promote infant and young child feeding and prevent malnutrition. In Cambodia and Indonesia, early childhood programmes were linked to community-led water and sanitation initiatives, with both focusing on reducing girls and women’s burden of household tasks and increasing women’s role in decision-making.

Influencing early childhood policies and practice: We are working with the Department of Social Welfare in Myanmar to make gender integral to national early childhood development strategic plans. In El Salvador, we worked with the government and others to create the National Strategy for Early Childhood. In Bolivia, the Ministry of Health adopted our early childhood violence prevention tools and is implementing them nationally, while in Pakistan we worked with the Punjab government to expand access to quality early childhood education across the entire province. In Guinea Bissau, Plan International worked with UNICEF and health authorities in two regions to expand access to essential interventions such as antenatal care, vaccination, community management of childhood illnesses, and treatment of malnutrition. In Jordan, we led the creation of a national early childhood development network to respond to the Syrian refugee crisis.

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Ending violence

We want vulnerable and excluded children, particularly girls, to grow up free from violence, fear or discrimination and we work with families, communities and governments to end all forms of violence against children.

The world today

For many children and young people, especially girls, children with disabilities and adolescents identifying as LGBTQI, there may be few spaces in their lives that are free from violence and discrimination. 2018’s Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children summit cemented the growing global momentum for ending violence against children, and our emphasis is on the gender dynamics and vulnerabilities that can fuel this violence.

Work in 2018

Our programming and influencing is based on strengthening child protection systems and tackling the causes of violence against children. We work to establish and support child protection mechanisms that make homes, schools and communities safer places for children, especially girls, and advocate for laws and policies that protect children from violence.

Global snapshots

Working with others to end all forms of violence against children: Working with partners, we introduced an anonymous text message service to report cases of child abuse in Togo. In Tanzania, we helped more than 5,000 children escape from child labour and we are supporting them to integrate back into school or vocational skills training. We intervened in many cases of child trafficking in Nepal, and provided information on trafficking to more than 9,000 girls and boys. In Honduras, a campaign about cyber bullying – that also uses a digital application to raise awareness – was supported by 3,000 young people.

Tackling gender-based violence: In Kenya, we worked with more than 600 men and boys to discuss and change social norms that put girls at risk. We created school clubs aiming to reduce gender-based violence in schools in Burkina Faso, and trained teachers on managing gender-based violence in school settings. We worked with 30 communities in Ghana to develop their by-laws to ensure there are safe places for girls.

Advancing gender-sensitive child protection in emergencies: Safety was a central concern for Rohingya and South Sudanese girls in our Adolescent Girls in Crisis research. The research based on girls’ experiences aims to improve support for girls in crises. Elsewhere, our emergency response in Tanzania to the Burundi refugee crisis has resulted in 70% of children surveyed reporting they feel safe in the camp, compared with a baseline of 41%. In Cameroon, more than 11,000 refugee children from Nigeria benefitted from child-friendly spaces.

Promoting improved child protection mechanisms: We introduced community-based social workers and legal counsellors in Cambodia to address child protection issues in communities, resulting in an increase in the number of cases raised and budget allocated. We supported girls’ rights clubs in Uganda to petition the government to act on sexual abuse against girls, and one district pledged to pass an order to end sexual abuse against girls.

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Financial overview 2018

Plan International Annual Review 2018 - Financial overview

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