Innovation inspires girls’ vision of a safer city
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This year, Plan International has helped improve the lives of millions of boys and girls.
From better, safer access to education within their communities, to successfully campaigning against child marriage in countries such as Malawi and Honduras, we have helped children across the globe realise their rights and the chance of a better life.
Our #GirlsTakeover hit new heights on International Day of the Girl, with presidents, ministers and CEOs all taking part.
We launched a new and exciting partnership called Equal Measures 2030. It will help shine a light on the inequalities girls face on a daily basis and hold governments to account for the commitments they made under the Global Goals.
Building on yet another successful year at Plan International, our thoughts turn to the future and the launch of our ground-breaking new strategy, 100 Million Reasons. Over the next five years – and with your help – we will transform the lives of 100 million girls, working with vulnerable children to ensure they all learn, lead, decide and thrive.
This year we’ve helped improve the lives of children around the world – we couldn’t have done so without your generosity and support
A healthier start in life for 3,641,648 girls
2,762,211 girls with better access to education
Better water and sanitation for 1,325,496 girls
Improving sexual and reproductive health for 588,106 girls
305,585 girls participated in active citizenship and local decision-making
421,431 girls with greater economic security
Child protection for 1,833,637 girls
703,026 girls supported before, during and after emergencies
Key to achieving the Global Goals is tackling gender equality by challenging attitudes towards girls and working for social transformation.
An unprecedented 300 #GirlsTakeover events took place in over 50 countries, with girls standing in positions of power and influence to demonstrate their strength and ability to change the world.
“Everything changed,” said Jennie, 17, from Sweden, of her experience taking over from the UN Director General in Geneva. “I became him, and he became one of my directors. I had never felt more in charge!”
Among the many leaders who stepped aside were: the president of Nepal, 40 ministers in Paraguay including the vice-president, Canada’s finance minister and the mayors of Madrid and Dublin. Girls also took over at national media outlets and corporations in Norway, the USA, India, the Philippines and other countries.
Brisa, 17, from the Miskito community in Nicaragua, was in a group taking over the Spanish parliament. “I am very excited to be part of this moment in the movement for girls’ rights,” she said.
Making urban areas safer requires creative approaches with meaningful ways for young people to participate in decisions that affect their lives.
Using a model of their community built with the computer game Minecraft, a group of girls from Hanoi, Vietnam, designed solutions to dangers they face.
The project is a collaboration between our Safer Cities for Girls initiative, UN-Habitat and Minecraft’s makers, Mojang.
After being shown the girls’ visualisations, local government agreed to implement a number of their recommendations.
“I’ve been able to contribute to building a community that is more beautiful, safer and friendlier for girls – and for the community as a whole” Anh, 15
Early pregnancy is a grave risk to girls’ health and their futures, yet globally 7.3 million under-18s become pregnant every year. In Benin we’re working with schools, government, and local business on the Zero Pregnancy in School by 2020 initiative, led by the Prefect of the Atakora Department.
The focus is on raising awareness among teenage girls. Messages are also shared via public meetings and radio broadcasts, and backed by legal action against men causing early pregnancies. Almost 13,000 students have been reached directly.
Plan International uses participatory theatre to teach children at Rose’s school about this issue. “Early pregnancies have hindered girls’ futures and this is not good,” says Rose, 13. “Our teachers encourage us to study so that we can prepare for our future and our career.”
Helping adolescents and their parents talk about and improve menstrual hygiene support in Indonesia.
29 women supported to stand in village elections in Aileu, Timor Leste – up from 2 in previous election.
Thousands of girls’ and boys’ groups share experiences of Colombia’s civil war to work for peace and reconciliation in their communities.
8 million people directly benefited from €98 million invested in education
€49 million to support over 702,500 people to participate as citizens
397,118 trained in gender equality
“Thanks to action by supporters across the globe, I delivered a petition with 39,000 signatures to the national parliament of Uganda in March, asking the government to provide sexual health services and information for adolescents” Sophie, 23
Ensuring girls’ and young women’s rights to sexual and reproductive health and control over their own bodies is central to achieving gender equality.
Young Ugandans campaigned to give girls a real choice over when they become mothers and to make informed decisions about sex and their future.
Plan International UK led a successful global online campaign asking people to stand in solidarity with these young advocates. “I’m absolutely thrilled to tell you the Ugandan Government has announced it will be taking action!” said Sophie, after delivering the petition.
The Ministry of Health has announced measures to help health workers provide better sexual health services to girls.
Millions of girls are ‘invisible’ to governments and policy makers because vital data is not being recorded about their lives. Our Counting the Invisible report revealed how improving the information we have about girls could have a massive impact on the quest for gender equality by 2030.
The need for data was also the inspiration behind the founding of research and advocacy partnership, Equal Measures 2030. It is focused on using data to drive progress on targets for girls and women in the Global Goals.
“We don’t have the information to persuade governments to take steps to end abuse, child marriage and the early pregnancies that lead to thousands of maternal deaths,” said Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, our CEO. “This new tool will ensure decision-makers are doing all they can to achieve equality.”
Early marriage robs girls of their childhood, forcing them out of education.
But in Honduras, following a 2-year campaign by Plan International, UN partners and young people, the National Congress voted to raise the minimum marriage age to 18 from 16. It also removed a loophole allowing under-18s to get married with parental permission.
Belinda Portillo, Country Director, said: “This has the potential to benefit the lives of millions of girls… For the lawmakers to hear from girls with personal experience of child marriage was a vital part of the process. By participating in this campaign, these young people have helped to put an end to a practice which is a violation of girls’ human rights.”
In the Dominican Republic, campaigners won the closing of a legal loophole that allowed under-18s to marry with parental consent.
In Malawi, after a long effort and global petitions, the law was amended to ban all marriage for girls under 18.
A coalition of NGO partners helped 14 southern African states create a model law to harmonise national laws preventing child marriage.
Working with the Sindh and Gilgit-Baltistan governments, Plan International Pakistan secured a ban on corporal punishment in education.
Thousands of girls and boys groups share experiences of Colombia’s civil war to work for peace and reconciliation in their communities.
333,585 trained in child protection
€54 million invested in children’s right to protection directly benefited 6.6 million people
2.1 million people directly benefited from €45 million invested in sexual and reproductive health
We started work for the first time in Jordan, where most Syrian under-5s who have fled the conflict lack access to early-childhood support. This makes them less likely to complete primary education.
“Education continues to be very critical,” says Muna Abbas, Plan International’s Head of Mission in Jordan. “Latest figures show that almost 90,000 Syrian children are out of school. Many are engaged in child labour and girls end up in child marriages.” Girls are one of the groups most at risk when disaster strikes.
Some 3,500 children have attended our pre-school classes. “I don’t even have the words to describe the joy I feel when I see my children happily playing and learning new things at the centre,” says Layla*, whose children attend our centre in Azraq refugee camp. “We have had our share of grief and hardship. They have the right to just be happy, smiley children.”
*Name changed for protection.
Food crisis and civil war mean South Sudan’s children face one of the highest risks of death in the world. Millions have fled homes and farms – severely affecting food production, and families’ ability to buy food. In response, we have been distributing crop seed kits and tools to families in Central Equatoria.
“I was stranded and prepared to starve as I had no source of income to generate money to buy seeds,” says Valeria, who has 15 dependents, and has since received seeds and tools. “I harvest leaves from my cowpeas and sell them in the local market. I have been able to raise enough money to provide a meal for my family each day”.
In its first six months, our seeds and tools response reached over 208,880 people like Valeria’s family – over half were children.
Plan International helps make schools safe for children in 13 countries in the most disaster-prone parts of Asia. We collaborate with governments and other organisations to improve building safety, school operations, and teacher and student preparedness.
The April 2015 earthquake in Nepal destroyed 35,000 classrooms. With support from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 12 earthquake-resilient schools for around 3,200 children are being built.
At Manju’s school in Dolakha students were also trained in disaster preparedness. “In the old school, if there was an earthquake, we would not have safe, open spaces to go. Now with the new school, it will be much bigger, so if the shaking starts, we can all come together in a safe space,” says Manju.
In Asia, our safe schools programme benefited more than 87,500 girls and boys in 527 schools. Our funding partners across Asia include the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Margaret A Cargill Foundation, Prudence Foundation and Daewoo.
With European Union backing, 10,000 Burundian refugee children play, learn and recover from traumatic experiences.
Children affected by Peru floods used our community feedback mechanism to say how our response helped and how we could do better.
Young Syrians in Egypt generate their own income with the help of cash transfers and individual business plans.
3 million people directly benefited from €153 million invested in protection and assistance before, during and after emergencies
Child protection in emergencies programmes in 41 countries
89 disaster response programmes globally
Simple improvements in sanitation can transform girls’ futures. In China’s rural areas, girls often drop out of school due to bad sanitary facilities.
Plan International Germany’s partnership with Schwarzkopf’s Million Chances is renovating washrooms for girls in rural boarding schools. Children’s groups are also helping them to learn about self-protection, life skills and hygiene.
“With Million Chances, we want to give girls and women a helping hand,” says Marie-Ève Schröder, Corporate Senior Vice President International Marketing Beauty Care, “to give them strength for the future.” Over 1,300 girls will benefit from this project in China.
By changing established attitudes towards girls in Delhi’s slums, combined with giving young women job skills, Plan India’s Saksham programme helps them find decent work and escape poverty. It focuses on disadvantaged youth, helping them develop the abilities and confidence to gain work.
“I can’t even express how much of a change I have experienced in myself. I used to be so frightened to go out on my own or to deal with strangers. Now, I feel confident to deal with anyone and speak up for myself,” says Saksham-graduate Komal.
Subjects taught include retail, customer relations, IT skills, office management, financial skills, life skills and English.
“I got a job and became the first girl in my family to be employed” Alpana, 21, is one of the 5,500 young people, including 3,400 young women, who have found jobs.
Every child has a right to a safe, quality education, but across Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, 3.3 million primary-age children are out of school.
In the first year of our PASS+ Project, over 30,500 out-of-school rural children enrolled in speed schools. Developed by our partners the Strømme Foundation, these provide a nine-month accelerated learning programme as a path into primary education.
Out-of-school children, in particular girls and children with disabilities, are reached through radio campaigns and community meetings. School staff receive training in gender-responsive and inclusive education. More than 181,000 children will get back into education to help secure their futures.
“Our consortium with Plan International will provide a unique chance to work closely with local communities to address the barriers to education faced by children across West Africa,” said Øyvind Aadland, Secretary General at Strømme Foundation.
Partnership with Nivea encourages parents’ involvement in play with young children in over 100 community centres across Brazil.
Youth savings associations integrate life skills and health training to reduce HIV/AIDS among adolescent girls in Malawi.
Data collected in shelters and sent to registrars allows 3,292 Indonesian street children to get legal identities.
15.8 million people benefited from €93 million invested in the right to a healthy start in life
€55 million invested in economic security directly benefited 1.8 million people
6.4 million people with improved water and sanitation
* excluding foreign exchange gains and losses
As this year ends, Plan International begins the roll-out of its new 5-year global strategy to 2022.
We want to fulfil the promise of the 2030 Global Goals and strive for a just world that advances children’s rights and equality for girls.
Our strategy is to work with vulnerable children and especially girls so that they can learn, lead, decide and thrive. Within the strategy we have an ambition to transform the lives of 100 million girls.