About two years ago, Plan launched a new five-year strategy designed to deepen its impact in the communities where we have been working for more than 80 years. As when designing any strategy, we examined the challenges in these countries and tried to understand how we could help these communities overcome those obstacles. We looked at our past experiences, resources, and potential partners to create a plan we thought would be successful. At this half-way point, we are well on track.
Plan’s expertise, ability to learn and adapt, and reach within communities are center to our strategy, but without partners success is difficult. We have made a conscious effort to seek out partnerships with local organizations, peers, and donors that complement our strengths and provide us with the support needed to achieve common goals.
Partners like the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). This partnership allows us to implement large-scale, integrated development projects in the communities where we have long-standing relationships. For example, in Kenya the USAID-funded Nilinde project enables Plan to support orphans and vulnerable children, helping families affected by HIV/AIDS. Because of this project, girls like Winnie will live in a safer environment. In Niger, the USAID NECS program that Plan delivers supports the government commitment to education by helping young children to read. This project gives girls like Deri the opportunity to go to school.
At the same time as our portfolio of U.S. government-funded work grows, we are linking closely with corporate partners, foundations, and individual givers to ensure children around the world and their families have what they need to “Learn, Lead, Decide, and Thrive.” Partners such as the ExxonMobil Foundation, who have funded the Global Women in Management programs for over a decade. More than 750 women like Patricia from Cote d’Ivoire have been trained to help improve the economic empowerment of women in their countries.
Thanks to our partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, our Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene team was able to conduct a first-of-its-kind, rigorous study on the Community-led Total Sanitation Approach that has provided some much needed insights for the sector.
And, of course, we cannot forget the generosity of our individual givers, who have funded so many of our programs, including our Because I Am A Girl projects. Thanks to this funding, young women like Girlene are speaking out about gender-based violence.
Looking ahead to the New Year, Plan International faces opportunities to do more. Our global federation just finalized its strategy to unite all the Plan offices under a common purpose. This new strategy puts girls squarely at the center of our community work and is a natural outgrowth of our years of supporting women and girls, who are so often the catalysts for development efforts. We are deeply engaged in protecting child rights with an increased focus on anti-trafficking programs. Our humanitarian assistance programs take on greater importance as protracted conflicts and natural disasters jeopardize children’s education and overall wellbeing. And Plan is deepening its long-standing commitment to women’s economic empowerment through the launch of the WomenLead Institute designed to provide training, mentorship, and small grants to women leaders around the world. In response to demand from the wider development community, Plan will also launch a new seminar series around Women’s Economic Empowerment with the Woodrow Wilson Center. This series is designed to elevate the perspective of women globally, and to complement testimonials with academic, government, non-government, and corporate partners. The series will launch in February and more information will be available on the Plan International USA website.
In short, as we mark the mid-point of our current strategy period for Plan International USA, we are energized by all we have accomplished with our partners in communities where we work, we are grateful for all of our donors’ support, and we are eager to tackle the challenges that lay ahead.