Giving Girls a Voice in Ecuador

Plan International is working to ensure girls receive quality education and future opportunity.

Determined and committed to creating change,
Plan decided to call on girls
to write letters to the government.

Plan International has been working with Ecuadorean communities and governments to rediscover and promote the great potential of the country’s girls through its Because I am a Girl campaign. Girls in the country face a harsh reality.

Teenage pregnancy is commonplace, danger of violence and abuse is everywhere, and families prioritize girls’ work in the home over their education.

Determined and committed to creating long-lasting change and ensuring quality education for all girls, Plan decided to call on the girls in the community to write letters to the Ecuadorian government revealing what they wanted to see at the top of the agenda.

The initiative “Girls’ Letters” was born, presenting firsthand accounts of girls’ challenges and dreams to the government of Ecuador. Girls asked the government to see their potential and support them with national polices to fight gender inequality and focus more on education.

Plan worked with 1,200 girls aged 12-16, all from schools supported by Plan. They were asked to think about their futures, write a letter to the government, and draw their dreams, visually showing what they wanted to achieve in life.

Through the letters, Plan found that:

  • 43 percent of girls fear being withdrawn from school and sent to work.
  • 78 percent of girls work at home and often miss school because of household chores.
  • 47 percent of girls have seen or experienced violence at home, in school, and in public places.

Despite these challenges, the “Girls’ Letters” initiative has had a positive impact on girls in Ecuador. Their letters were the key that enabled Plan to open the doors to the Ecuadorian Government, the National Assembly, the business world, and the media.

Plan presented the girls’ letters to local governments and the national government, and finally got the National Assembly to agree to meet. Plan had tried many times before to meet with government, but it was only with the strength of the girls’ personal testimonies that this goal was achieved.

The girls’ letters meant their voices were heard in all corners of the country.

“Girls told us their reality and we have not disappointed them,” said Rossana Viteri, country director for Plan Ecuador. “We have taken their voices to all sectors of Ecuadorian society, and the first steps are being taken to combat the barriers before them.”