Girls’ rights are human rights. When girls face injustices, their communities suffer. Gender equality is a fight we must take on together — men, women, boys and girls in all their diversity and gender identities. And we believe that young people should be leading the charge for a fair and equal world. Because youth voices matter.
Our comprehensive, inclusive approach to Gender & Youth Equality programming strives to be girl-led, because we believe that girls are our most important and valued partners in driving program design and content. The best way to identify the challenges that girls and young women face and define the path forward is to ask the experts: the girls themselves.
Our girl-driven approach to Gender & Youth Equality programming includes five focus areas:
- Human trafficking: Child trafficking is a global crisis that we combat through teaching girls and families how to defend themselves from traffickers’ tricks, bringing survivors home faster and helping victims recover from physical and emotional abuse. We work with government officials and communities to help protect girls and increase rescues, e.g., ensuring border patrol agents do not accept bribes from traffickers. Once girls are rescued and provided counseling, we also help them take control of their futures and complete their education.
- Gender norm change: We help challenge social norms by supporting girls and boys to think differently about gender and the harmful impact of gender norms, and encourage the people around them to do the same. Our programs allow girls to promote equality and show their power, and ask boys to self-reflect and identify the harmful consequences of toxic masculinity in their cultures. By working together as teams, children and youth in our programs build a more equitable tomorrow.
- Youth voices: Our youth engagement programs serve young people, both domestically and internationally. Through Plan International USA’s Youth Advisory Board and Youth Leadership Academy, youth — particularly young women — enhance their leadership skills and bring a strong voice to develop, guide and evaluate Plan’s programs. And through our unique approach to development, GirlEngage, the voices of girls and young women are what inspire our programming for advancing girls’ rights.
- Child, early and forced marriage and unions (CEFMU): Our CEFMU prevention programs are designed to enable girls and young women to avoid marriage, stay in school and decide for themselves whether and when and whom to marry. Plan takes a holistic approach to identify and address the root causes of this harmful practice and identify opportunities for change. We help girls work with parents, community leaders and governments to identify, understand and end forced marriage around the world.
- Sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR): Our programming ensures that girls, youth and women realize their rights to sexual and reproductive health, including access to information, education and services. Our SRHR program areas include life skills programming, comprehensive sexuality education, family planning, adolescent and youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health access, addressing child and early forced marriage and unions (CEFMU), and preventing and increasing access to HIV care.
To speak with an expert, email Plan’s Director, Youth and Economic Empowerment, Kate Ezzes.