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Investing in Women to Ensure Better Opportunities for Girls

Plan knows that when we invest in the power and potential of women, the returns are seen in healthier and better educated girls and boys, stronger and more economically resilient families, and vibrant and thriving communities. That was why, in 2012, Plan acquired the Centre for Development and Population Activities (CEDPA), a leading international women’s NGO, and its globally recognized women’s leadership programs. CEDPA was one of the first international development organizations to focus specifically on women’s issues, and its history, achievements, expertise, and tools have added strength and breadth to Plan’s mission, programming, and reach.

Founded in 1975 as a grassroots reproductive health organization, CEDPA’s mission was to equip and mobilize women and girls to achieve gender equality. For 37 years, the organization worked towards a world in which women and girls were able to fulfill their dreams, free from the constraints of poverty and inequality and in which their full worth was realized and valued. CEDPA’s approach was to work hand-in-hand with leaders, local partners, and national and international organizations to give people the tools they need to improve their lives, families, and communities. The organization’s programs increased educational opportunities for girls and youth; ensured access to lifesaving reproductive health and HIV/AIDS information and services; and strengthened women’s ability to become leaders in their communities and nations. In addition, through sub-grants and technical assistance to local partners, CEDPA strengthened community organizations for lasting change. The organization awarded nearly $100 million in sub-grants to local organizations and women’s groups throughout its history.

Plan acquired CEDPA because of its extraordinary reputation and experience in gender and women-focused programming. Plan’s goal was to strengthen its visibility as a gender-focused organization, integrate women’s leadership as a new cross-cutting area, and grow its reproductive health project portfolio. To that end, Plan retained CEDPA project staff and programs and continues to implement these today. The programs include:

The Better Life Options and Opportunities Model (BLOOM) – BLOOM is an integrated and holistic approach to improving the lives of young people; it has implemented successfully in a range of countries and contexts, using a diverse set of methodologies.

Targeted States High Impact Project (TSHIP) - TSHIP is a USAID-funded project implemented in Sokoto and Bauchi states in northern Nigeria to increase the use of high-impact integrated interventions in maternal, newborn, and child health and family planning/reproductive health (MNCH, FP/RH). The TSHIP consortium is led by John Snow International (JSI) in collaboration with Jhpiego, Management Strategies for Africa (MSA), Futures Group, and Plan International USA.

Leadership, Empowerment, Advocacy, and Development (LEAD) – Leadership, Empowerment, Advocacy, and Development (LEAD) is a five-year, USAID-funded local governance program led by RTI International to build accountable and effective local government.

Tekponon Jikuagou: Addressing Unmet Need for Family Planning Through Social Networks - Tekponon Jikuagou is a USAID-funded project focused on assessing the influence of men and women’s social networks on their attitudes, beliefs, desires, intentions, and behaviors regarding fertility and reproductive health. Under the project, Georgetown University’s Institute for Reproductive Health is the primary implementing organization, while Plan and CARE provide technical resources for testing and implementing network-based interventions that address unmet need for family planning.

MacArthur Safe Motherhood Nigeria Program - To advance reproductive and maternal health in a country where a woman has a one in 18 chance of dying during childbirth, Plan International Nigeria leads the MacArthur Safe Motherhood Nigeria program to promote interventions to reduce barriers to safe motherhood, with funding from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

The Global Women in Management Program – Funded by the ExxonMobil Women’s Economic Opportunity Initiative for more than a decade, the program strengthens women’s management, leadership, and technical skills to enhance and bring to scale programs that advance women’s economic opportunities and build the next generation of women business leaders and entrepreneurs.


CEDPA Throughout the Years: A Slideshow

  • CEDPA was one of the first organizations in India to offer reproductive health services.

    CEDPA, founded in 1975, was one of the first women’s organizations to offer door-to-door reproductive health services in India

  • CEDPA formed the White Ribbon Alliance in 1999.

    CEDPA helped form the White Ribbon Alliance in 1999, providing technical assistance and leading advocacy and communication strategies dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for all women and newborns.

  • CEDPA is recognized in India for its work.

    As a result of its work, CEDPA become one of the most recognized women’s organizations in India.

  • The Better Life Opportunities Model was developed by CEDPA in 1987.

    In 1987, CEDPA developed the Better Life Options and Opportunities Model (BLOOM), which has been modified for use in over 15 countries.

  • BLOOM and its Choose a Future! curriculum address life skills not presented in the formal educational system.

    Sponsored by the ExxonMobil Foundation, BLOOM and its Choose a Future! (CAF!) curriculum expands youths’ knowledge of goal setting, career planning, rights and responsibilities, reproductive health, and other life skills that are not fully addressed in the formal school system.

  • CEDPA partnered with the YMCA in Southern Africa to offer the Towards a Better Future Program.

    In southern Africa, CEDPA partnered with the YMCA to provide youth with the CAF! curriculum and adolescent girls benefited from the Towards a Better Future Program, which was based on CEDPA’s BLOOM .

  • BLOOM prepares 1,400 out-of-school youth for adulthood.

    Touching on subjects such as gender-based violence and Ubuntu, BLOOM prepared over 1,400 out-of-school youth in Nigeria for adulthood.

  • BLOOM Beneficiaries re-enroll in school or vocational school.

    Beneficiaries re-enrolled in school or vocational school, making the program a huge success.

  • With a decade of support from the MacArthur Foundation, CEDPA leads the MacArthur Safe Motherhood Nigeria Program.

    With a decade of support from the MacArthur Foundation, CEDPA led the MacArthur Safe Motherhood Nigeria Program, which promoted interventions to reduce barriers to safe motherhood.

  • CEDPA helped more than 750,000 people register to vote.

    Most notably, CEDPA partnered with local community activists and women’s organizations to mobilize 100 Women Groups that registered more than 750,000 people to vote in the first democratic Nigerian election – nearly a third of all of the country’s registered voters.

  • CEDPA advocated for reproductive health rights education and services in Egypt.

    In Egypt, CEDPA advocated for reproductive health rights education and services and encouraged youth participation within their communities.

  • The Ishraq Program used CEDPA’s CAF! curriculum to improve educational, health, and social opportunities for thousands of out-of-school girls.

    The Ishraq Program used CEDPA’s CAF! curriculum to improve educational, health, and social opportunities for thousands of out-of-school girls living in rural Upper Egypt.

  • CEDPA has created programs for men and boys.

    Although CEDPA is mostly known as a women’s organization, it has also implemented programs for men and boys.

  • Based on BLOOM, The New Horizons Program increased gender sensitivity and reproductive health knowledge of young men.

    The New Horizons Program, based on BLOOM, increased the gender sensitivity and reproductive health knowledge of young men and encouraged the development of important life skills such as planning, communication, and decision-making.

  • In Nepal, BLOOM Program graduates became peer educators, reaching additional program participants.

    In Nepal, BLOOM Program graduates became peer educators, reaching additional program participants, and the CAF! curriculum was offered to adolescent girls.

  • CEDPA helps form Women-Act, an organization that helped ensure women’s rights were included in Nepal’s new constitution.

    Through a series of CEDPA-led workshops, Nepali women, along with national constitutional experts and women from countries who have led constitutional reforms, came together to form Women-Act, an organization that helped ensure women’s rights were included in Nepal’s new constitution.

  • The first GWIM workshop took place in 1978.

    CEDPA is also known for its Global Women in Management (GWIM) workshops, which began in 1978.

  • GWIM workshops strengthen women’s management, leadership, and technical skills.

    The workshops strengthen women’s management, leadership, and technical skills in order to enhance and bring to scale programs that advance women’s economic opportunities. Many of its alumna are political leaders, heads of organizations, and history makers.

  • Tina Andriamahefa, a GWIM alumna, founded Youth First.

    GWIM alumna Tina Andriamahefa founded Youth First, an organization that equips youth with the skills and opportunities to participate, take leadership, and contribute to the sustainable social and political development of their communities.

  • Alicia Menses, a GWIM alumna, persued a political career in Colombia.

    After graduating from GWIM in 2009, Alicia Meneses went on to pursue a political career in Colombia, proving that when women move forward, the world moves with them.

  • CEDPA was acquired by Plan International USA in 2012.

    Plan’s approach to leadership and capacity development was further enhanced when CEDPA joined talents and projects with Plan in 2012. The acquisition has strengthened existing programs and more effectively protected and promoted the rights of women and children around the world.

  • CEDPA helped form the White Ribbon Alliance in 1999.

    CEDPA helped form the White Ribbon Alliance in 1999, providing technical assistance and leading advocacy and communication strategies dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for all women and newborns.

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