Girls Learn & Thrive


With Plan International USA’s Girls Learn & Thrive program in Senegal, you can help spread the truth about child marriage and keep girls in school.

Girls are being forced to give up school uniforms for wedding gowns every single day. In Senegal, child marriage cases are especially high. Nearly 30% of girls there are married before age 18. For boys, it’s only 1%.

Child marriage is a major reason why girls in Senegal drop out of school. And girls face a slew of health risks — or even death — when forced to have children while still children themselves. In West and Central Africa, the rates of child-marriage-related deaths are the highest in the world.

But studies have shown that the longer a girl stays in school, the less likely she is to be forced into marriage and pregnancy. Education is the antidote that ensures a better future for girls.


What are we doing?

Plan is working in Kédougou, Senegal to help girls take their power back with our Girls Learn & Thrive program. Together with your support, girls can access the tools they need to stay in school, instead of getting married too early.

From our 80+ years of experience, we know that the best solutions won’t come from a program designer or an academic paper. Real, lasting change comes from the community.

So, the girls themselves influence every step of this project through our unique GirlEngage approach — from designing activities, to leading projects, to measuring progress for girls’ rights.

The program’s girl-designed and girl-led activities include:

  • Life skills trainings, where girls learn about sexual reproductive health and rights, building confidence, decision-making, setting goals and advocating for themselves to stay in school and avoid early marriage.
  • Community action projects focused on advocacy for girls’ rights, such as radio ads and street plays, as well as direct services like distributing period products.
  • Mother-daughter groups, where girls can talk with their mothers about sex and marriage in safe spaces and express the futures that they want for themselves. In these groups, women and girls also discuss saving money for education and strengthening their families’ economic security.
  • Fathers’ clubs, where men can participate in positive parenting trainings, find peer-to-peer support, discuss ways to challenge traditional gender norms in parenting and learn how to become advocates.
  • Trainings for boys and young men to understand masculinity and gender roles, learn how to create nurturing, nonviolent relationships and discover ways to work with girls to achieve gender equality.



more girls in Senegal were recruited into the program in 2021.
girls will complete life skills trainings in 2022.
boys and young men will participate in gender equality training in 2022.

Meet a program participant, Kadidiatou

Getting an education as a girl in Kédougou, Senegal isn’t easy. Especially now with COVID-19, parents are reconsidering if they can afford to pay for their daughters’ educations. They might start to envision how a husband could provide for her, and how they’ll even receive a bride price.

But Girls Learn & Thrive participants like 17-year-old Kadiatou are proving what they can achieve on their own now that they can access an education.

“At the end of my studies, I would like to become a gynecologist, because the [number] of female gynecologists in Senegal is still very low,” Kadiatou says.

She’s right — there are only about seven physicians per 100,000 people in Senegal, making access to health care extremely difficult. But Girls Learn & Thrive is helping girls like Kadidiatou realize their power when they have an education. Together, we can make it possible for more girls in Senegal to become leaders of change.

“If I had the opportunity to meet one of the donors of this project … I would thank them very much … then ask them to enroll as many girls as possible to benefit many more vulnerable adolescents.”

Our projects in Senegal

Give to Girls Learn & Thrive

Your gift to Girls Learn & Thrive will support Plan’s work in Senegal, helping to spread the truth about child marriage and keep girls in school.

Your contribution is tax deductible.