Programmes and Influencing

Racheal, Lynne, and Margaret from Plan International's She Leads programme stand outside the Hague with their fists raised up.
Racheal, Lynne, and Margaret from Plan International’s She Leads programme travelled to Geneva to raise their concerns about issues affecting girls and young women at the United Nations Human Rights Council. The She Leads programme supports and funds feminist, girl and young women-led organisations so that they can advocate for girls’ rights.

We are Plan International; we work with children and girls in over 80 countries to help create a world where we are all equal.

We put gender equality and the persistent development challenges that girls are facing right at the heart of our organisational purpose.

We have grown from being child-centred and community-focused to recognising that we must also impact young people over 18 years of age, work at multiple levels and be active across humanitarian and development contexts. We know that we must partner with and influence a wide range of players to catalyse sustainable, transformative change at scale, from local to global levels.

Our primary impact groups

We are committed to making a lasting impact on the lives of the most vulnerable and excluded children while creating greater equality for girls. Our purpose thus concerns two intersecting primary impact groups:

  • vulnerable and excluded children, and
  • girls in particular.

Girls are a particularly important impact group for us. Gender inequality compounds all forms of exclusion, making the effects of exclusion different and often worse for girls and women.

Plan International is committed to supporting children into adulthood. Some young people may require support to fully enjoy and exercise their rights as adults. This means that our work may directly impact young people up to 24 years old.

Dimensions of change

Achieving lasting improvements in the lives of girls and boys depends on the environment in which they live and how this enables them to realise their rights. We can best contribute to more enabling environments by triggering change in three interdependent and interconnected dimensions:

  • by influencing social norms – particularly harmful gender norms – and related attitudes and behaviours
  • by strengthening people’s personal, social and economic assets and safety nets
  • by contributing to better policies, legislation, budgets and government services at various levels that affect children’s and particularly girls’ lives.

Our commitments:

1. We are rights-based

All of our work is grounded in human rights principles. We adopt strong, clear positions on, and actively support, human rights. We stand with human rights defenders and work with others to contribute to child rights and gender equality monitoring and reporting.

The normative framework for our work in all contexts is provided by:

  • the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) 
  • the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)
  • international humanitarian law and the standards and principles enshrined therein. 

In spite of this framework, we know that girls are often invisible in core conventions. Girls’ rights are often subsumed into either the ageless category of “women”, or the gender-neutral category of “children”, “adolescents”, or “youth”. We draw attention to this by using the term “girls’ rights”. Because girls are so invisible, more must be done to address discrimination against them and to redress the inequalities they endure.

2. We are gender transformative

There are many forms of inequality and exclusion and they vary from place to place. But everywhere we work there exists some form of gender-based discrimination, gender stereotyping and an unequal distribution of power between women and men, girls and boys and other genders. 

Robust evidence demonstrates that gender equality is beneficial for girls and boys, women and men, and for society as a whole. Adopting a gender transformative approach ensures that our work results in positive changes and sustainable outcomes for girls and young women, and for society more broadly. Working proactively with boys and young men to champion gender equality is part of this approach. 

A gender transformative approach goes beyond addressing “symptoms” to explicitly tackle the root causes of gender inequality, particularly unequal gender power relations, discriminatory social norms and systems, structures, policies and practices. It improves the daily condition of girls while advancing their position and value in society.

3. We are open and accountable

Being open and accountable is one of our core values. We ensure that we report openly and transparently about what we do – on both our successes and failures – and about how we use the resources entrusted to us. We commit to using these resources responsibly in order to generate the greatest sustainable outcomes.

Wherever we work, we consider carefully whether and how we can add value to local development efforts. We listen to children and communities, and ensure that we apply the highest standards for keeping children, other people and the environment safe whenever we, or our associates, interact with them. 

4. We work with other actors, organisations and institutions

Plan International is outward-looking. We recognise that we cannot achieve sustainable development outcomes by working alone. Key to this is building relationships with a variety of organisations, institutions, corporates and other actors that influence the changes we are seeking. 

We pay particular attention to partnerships with organisations of children and young people. Based on an understanding of other stakeholders and on the knowledge of our own strengths and limitations, we develop strategic relationships to enhance our reach, influence and capability at all levels.

5. We work in all contexts

In development, fragile and conflict-affected settings, we help to realise the rights of children and young people, and aim to add value to their lives through targeted responses. Following core humanitarian principles and standards, our emergency interventions deliver immediate life-saving assistance and protection to children and their communities affected by natural disasters or conflict. 

Our overall response or protracted crises programme plans have a gender transformative ambition. Even in the most acute emergencies all our projects will endeavour to identify and respond to the specific vulnerabilities and needs of girls and young women.

Our development work focuses on empowering children and their communities to tackle the underlying causes of poverty and to create lasting positive change. Our work increases the resilience of children, young people and particularly girls. Using an integrated development and humanitarian approach, we help them to overcome the multiple risks that they face.

6. We work at all levels

Our experience has taught us that working at and across all levels – locally, nationally, regionally and globally – is key to bringing the changes that we are seeking. We recognise that the situations of children and girls, in particular, depend on many factors that transcend local borders. This can be a force for good – for instance, new media can help to trigger change at scale rapidly and across continents and cultures, magnifying the reach and power of individuals.

Building on our experience at local levels, we use our presence at multiple levels to forge long-term relationships that help us to further our programme and influence goals.

For further detail on our programme and influence approach and strategies, please download the full document, below.