Marcela’s Right to Learn
Without Fear

Marcela's Story

In Marcela's community, girls dread going to school once they become adolescents. They are routinely harassed by boys in their classes and many are coerced into abusive sexual relations.

The consequences are particularly devastating for those girls who become pregnant and are forced to end their education for shame and fear of ridicule.

Marcela, therefore, is just short of a miracle. Living in a community that was until recently labeled the most violent in El Salvador, Marcela is still single at 18, pursuing higher education and is championing girls' rights in her community. "I was almost destined for a similar fate had I not become aware of my rights a few years ago," says Marcela recalling her first contact with Plan during a project that focused on educating young people in her community against violence. "Years of awareness-raising has made a difference, but there are still too many girls in my community who face violence in schools and drop out of education," she says.

Solutions involving communities, particularly boys and men, to create an environment where rights are promoted and valued are being implemented effectively in her community.

Young female advocates like Marcela are using this tool in their communities. "It is only through awareness and education that we have succeeded in scaling down the level of violence in my community," she says. "Men can very much become part of the solution through change in behavior and attitudes."


Did You Know?

  • Incidents of sexual violence by male teachers and staff against female students are common in many parts of the world. This involves a range of aggressive behaviors and misuse of authority, including rape, verbal sexual harassment, and bribing students with money or the promise of better grades.
  • Gender-based violence in and around schools is one of the major barriers for girls in completing their education.
  • Girls who complete primary and secondary education are more likely to earn a greater income during their lifetimes, have fewer unwanted pregnancies and marry later. They are also more likely to break the cycle of generational poverty within their families and the communities around them.

You + Plan =

39 local government leaders trained
422 girls preventing violence at school
9 festivals on gender violence
A government commitment signed to create safe spaces for girls to find protection and healing, and
One bright future for Marcela!

Thank you! Your continuous support is critical. Learn more about Plan’s Because I am a Girl El Salvador Project.