Powered by supporters, we partner with adolescent girls, children and young women to overcome oppression and gender inequality. We provide the resources that are unique to their needs and the needs of their communities, ensuring they achieve their full potential with dignity, opportunity and safety.
In fewer than 50 words, we’ve provided a summary of who Plan International USA is and what we do. You’ll notice the word “safety” is included. Safeguarding of children, young people and program participants is at the heart of what we do, and Plan takes this work extremely seriously.
What is safeguarding? At Plan, we refer to safeguarding as the responsibilities and preventative, responsive and referral measures that we undertake to protect children and program participants, ensuring that no child or program participant is subject to any form of harm as a result of their association with Plan.
As we work with more than 50 million children around the world each year, we face many safeguarding risks. Thus, every Plan employee and associate completes safeguarding training, and all are taught that they must speak up if they have any concerns. We participate in an annual self-assessment exercise where each office reviews our adherence to Plan’s safeguarding requirements. At Plan USA, we remove any donors from our rolls who show up on public sex offender registries. We work hard to ensure that communications between sponsors and children is appropriate. New employees are carefully vetted before joining the organization. And so much more.
Another component of our commitment to safeguarding is being transparent about reports we’ve received. In FY21, we reported the following three incidents at Plan USA. Thankfully, none of these led to any harm.
- A donor wondered if there were any “young women” available for marriage.
- A sponsor wrote inappropriate things to their female sponsored child.
- A sponsored child contacted their sponsor on Facebook.
In the first two instances above, the donors are no longer with Plan. In the third instance, we informed the sponsor that they should not engage with the child over Facebook, and in-country colleagues followed up with the child. To protect the child, and the sponsor, it is important that all communications flow through the Plan offices
Plan worldwide collects each safeguarding incident on an annual basis and compiles a report which is shared publicly. We do this for the benefit of Plan, our donors, our employees and, most importantly, for the children and program participants with whom we work. You will notice that this report includes every safeguarding incident reported around the world, no matter how small or how serious.
As safeguarding becomes more and more ingrained in our work, we expect the number of incidents to increase, as people realize they can — and must — speak up when they have an inkling that something is wrong. But we also expect that the severity of the incidents will decrease, leading us back to our vision of partnering with adolescent girls and their communities to ensure they achieve their full potential with dignity, opportunity and safety.