Walk through the life of a girl who is given the tools and access to transform her future with the help of Plan International USA.
Plan International USA (Plan) is a global organization that works to advance girls’ rights and overcome oppression and gender inequality. Its approach is rooted in local ownership and letting girls lead the way. With over 240 local field offices designing collaborative and inclusive programs, Plan’s work involves girls at every step, is community-led and creates a sustainable and far-reaching impact.
This work is holistic and covers so many different points in a girl’s life that it can be hard to truly visualize how these programs operate. Let’s take an illustrative look at how Plan invests in gender equality throughout a girl’s lifetime across its five key impact areas (maternal and child health, education, gender and youth equality, skills and work, and humanitarian response).
The story below follows the lifetime of a fictional girl growing up with Plan’s support – and how that support leads to a better future for her, her family and her community. This account reflects the experiences of many girls who have and are growing up with Plan’s programs to guide them.
Maternal and child health
Imagine that a girl is born safely at a local clinic supported by Plan. At this clinic, her parents are taught how to care for their new baby and are able bring their daughter in for regular wellness visits. They give her the name Mia.
As she enters young adulthood, Mia receives a comprehensive sexual and reproductive education in which she learns about topics such as menstruation, safe sex and family planning in an age- and culturally-appropriate way. Plan is there to support her as she begins using menstruation products and learns how to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections. Alongside her community, she learns about gender-based violence and ways that everyone can end discrimination and violence. She is empowered to speak out against the issues she faces and has access to related support and resources if she needs it.
Some day, Mia may decide to start a family. Because of the education she will have received from Plan, she and her partner will know how to plan their family in a way that feels right for them. She can visit that same clinic to access information about taking care of herself during pregnancy and planning her delivery.
See a real life example of Plan’s work in maternal and child health here.
With Plan’s help, Mia’s community has access to early childhood care, meaning she begins learning in an inclusive environment at a critical age in her development. As she continues her education, she has teachers trained by Plan who support her and her classmates equitably. If her family struggles financially or faces a natural disaster, Plan can help keep her in school so she does not fall behind her peers.
Mia’s school and local clinic provide her with menstrual hygiene supplies, so she doesn’t have to miss class when she has her period. Her school buildings also have clean water and hand-washing stations for Mia to use. Her teachers and community health workers teach the students about healthy habits like washing their hands and covering their mouth when they cough – the students bring these messages home and help reduce the spread of illness throughout their community.
As she completes primary school, Mia decides to further her education. Her family and community have been working with Plan to address child and early forced marriage and unions (CEFMU) and they support her decision to stay in school. Mia has exciting plans for a future career and feels empowered by the strong network of leaders and mentors Plan has connected her with. One day soon, she, too, will be a powerful mentor and role model for young girls in her community, paying forward the work Plan is doing for her right now.
See a real life success story of Plan’s work in education here.
Gender and youth equality
Throughout Mia’s education, she learned about the body and human development, sexual and reproductive health, family planning and preventing the spread of communicable diseases with Plan’s help. Her family learned about CEFMU and decided they would rather keep her in school like her brothers, and see this same change starting to take place across their community. Alongside these efforts, Plan has been working with local leadership to spot and prevent serious issues like human trafficking. These efforts help young people like Mia stay safe and keep them in school and at home.
The students at Mia’s school all grow up learning about gender equality together – children talk about gender norms in their schools, families and communities. Both girls and boys are encouraged to pursue their passions and break down gender barriers. Team activities and sports help them work side by side and empower girls’ leadership skills. Through a powerful approach that Plan implements in all programs called GirlEngage, girls and young women are empowered to discuss what issues affect them and the solutions they’ve identified. Through this approach, they develop skills like public speaking, leadership, advocacy and even program and initiative design for Plan.
These kinds of changes in social norms will live on for generations to come. Plan invests in the power and insight of girls today so that our Mia has a safe, secure and bright future – and so her children will, too.
See a real life example of Plan’s work in gender and youth equality here.
Skills and work
Mia can work with Plan to enter the workforce armed with the skills, education and well-being she needs to succeed in her adult life. Plan supports vocational trainings that provide young women with the hard and soft skills needed to pursue their career of choice, such as financial literacy and communication. Plan also connects young women with financial services needed to grow their savings and invest in their future, especially as these services are not traditionally available to women.
When Mia graduates and enters the workforce, she and her peers will face unique barriers that require change on the part of governments and the private sector. Gender inclusive practices can creative a positive and productive work environment for all employees, and Plan is there to provide resources and guidance for these employers. And if there is a lack of employment opportunities or Mia has an innovative idea she wants to act on, she can work with Plan to access the training and resources she needs to start her own business. Plan can connect her with mentors who have experience running their own businesses and pass on lessons to the next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs.
See a real life example of Plan’s work developing skills and work for women here.
The best-laid plans can change in an instant. Conflict, pandemics and natural disasters can quickly turn everyday life upside down, and women and girls are often among the first to feel the effects of emergencies. Plan provides protection to girls like Mia when disasters hit, ensuring their physical and emotional well-being during difficult times. Whenever possible, Plan is there to keep girls in school and provide assistance when schools are damaged or temporarily closed. Girls are particularly vulnerable to human trafficking and child marriage during turbulent times, so Plan is there to ensure girls’ needs are met and to keep them out of these dangerous situations.
In the aftermath of an emergency, Plan works to ensure that women and girls have a seat at the table to help build back after disasters. Mia grew up in her community and therefore understands the challenges and opportunities of where she lives. When a typhoon causes severe flooding across her region, Mia’s ideas and insights help Plan devise emergency response efforts such as reconstruction programs and sustainable livelihood planning. Working with civil society organizations and local government ensures women and girls have the space to use their voice and contribute equitably to their community.
See a real life example of Plan’s work in humanitarian response by reading about their work during COVID-19.
Supporting women and girls
Change happens when girls are empowered and included in plans for their future. All of these different investments in women and girls are happening around the world and across a girl’s life thanks to Plan. While this piece focused on gender equality throughout an individual’s life, Plan does so much to foster change at the family, community and societal level, too. Learn more about the details of this work by visiting Plan’s Expertise page and its page on GirlEngage.
If you are inspired by the life-changing work Plan is doing around the world, we have two great ways you can help:
- Give to Plan in your employee giving program. If you are a federal employee, you can find them in the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) by searching Plan International USA or using their CFC #12083.
- Don’t have an employee giving program? Donate to our Women and Girls thematic fund that features Plan International USA.
For more ideas on how to work with Plan for your workplace giving, reach out to us today!