Girls have big goals for their futures, but often, they don’t have the resources, networks, agency and access to opportunities to pursue them. That’s why Plan International USA’s programming focuses on building peer networks, developing self-confidence and preparing young women and girls for professional careers of their choice. The results of their economic independence are greater control over their personal lives and financial resources, more economically-resilient families and societies, and long-term community investment.
Our Skills & Work programs engage girls and young women from marginalized backgrounds to make informed choices for their successful transition to adulthood. Plan’s programming approach is girl-centered and strives to be girl-led, because we believe that girls are our most important and valued partners in driving program design and content. Girls are eager to learn about career options and the steps they need to take to reach their professional goals, knowing that they can rely on Plan as a trusted ally and coach to help them navigate challenges along the way to achieving their goals. 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 Skills & Work programming is centered around four main focus areas:
- Vocational training: Young women today need to be prepared for a fast-paced and ever-changing employment and business landscape. Our programs are designed for young women to learn, practice and master skills and attitudes for workplace success. This includes an agile and entrepreneurial mindset, self-confidence, vocational skills, interpersonal skills, communications and technology acumen and financial literacy.
- Girl and youth-friendly financial services: Everyone needs access to financial services, including savings, loan and insurance products — but traditional financial products and services were not designed for women. Plan’s financial services are tailored to the needs and preferences of young women and adolescents. Girls and young women learn to save, take loans and be bankers in their own right by accessing and managing their own savings groups and clubs. Savings groups also serve as a supportive platform for growing their peer networks, practicing essential skills such as self-discipline, money management and conflict resolution; and forming good habits such as regular savings and punctuality. Savings groups are also a venue for raising awareness about issues in the community, gender rights, continuing education and marketing opportunities.
- Labor rights: While we strive to prepare young women to get and keep a job, women have the right to decent work. So, Plan works with employers to promote gender-inclusive and supportive workplaces. Achieving fair and just working conditions is good for everyone —employers, workers and consumers. To do this, we work closely with national and local governments and private sector partners to raise gender awareness, develop gender-inclusive policies and practices that uphold labor rights and implement systems for responsible recruitment and safe access to remedy if their rights are violated. Our experience and long-standing relationships with government entities and the private sector are used to influence positive changes in national and international policies. We are a founding member of the World Bank’s Solutions for Youth Employment (S4YE) initiative and partner with the International Labor Organization.
- Entrepreneurship: In many rural areas, it is particularly difficult for young women to find waged employment opportunities — but with our entrepreneurship programming, they have the power to take their careers into their own hands through self-employment. Young entrepreneurs learn the skills they need to spot a good business opportunity, set up and manage the risks of running a business, and face challenges with flexibility and creativity, building their resilience with financial, business, socioemotional, entrepreneurial, digital and life skills. Young women entrepreneurs are more likely to succeed if they have trusted mentors. That’s why Plan facilitates business mentoring for young women entrepreneurs, and links them to financial and other wrap-around services.