Girls take the lead during the Covid-19 crisis
As a global community, we spent the past year making headway in the fight against the many inequalities exposed by COVID-19. We saw the damage that can be wrought by the unexpected, but we also saw what happens when communities come together in support of a common goal.
Girls and women carry the greatest burden of inequality, which has only worsened with COVID-19. Yet we know they are powerful and can help create a just world. As we envision the other side of this global crisis, we have an opportunity – and a collective responsibility – to shift the imbalances that have caused and increased inequality. Girls have been and can be leaders in their communities and in the COVID-19 response. Standing with and investing in them is the key to stopping the setbacks caused by the pandemic.
As we review the year behind us, Plan International Canada can see first-hand the positive effects that can happen when girls are given the space to lead and exercise their rights. We have seen girls assert their rights to a safe, healthy life and a path of their choosing. We have also seen them lift up those around them, rewriting the future for themselves and their communities.
We are proud of the work we do together to advance children’s rights and equality for girls, and we are excited to share examples of the incredible accomplishments from this past year.
Messages from the CEO and Chair
How donations reach communities
Plan International has a long-term presence in the communities where we work, partnering with children, families, community organizations and governments. Our diverse funding sources help us develop sustainable solutions together to unleash human potential around the globe.
Child Sponsorship contributions go to community development projects that nurture the power and potential of children and their communities while also allowing us to establish trusting relationships and implement sustainable change. Designated contributions – such as major financial donations, Gifts of Hope and ongoing contributions to specific projects – go to the project identified by the donor.
In all cases, donated funds support projects developed in partnership with community members – including children, especially girls – to address inequality and create a just world.
Where our support comes from
|Government & other grants||46.1%|
|Gifts in kind||12.7%|
|Contributions, gifts & bequests||12.5%|
|Investments & other income||0.2%|
Total revenue: $237 M
Where our money goes
How our resources were used
Total expenditures: $231 M
Areas of work this funding supported
|Health, water & sanitation||30.8%|
|Sexual & reproductive health||15.1%|
|Strengthening human rights & civic engagement||4.9%|
Our Global Work
Supporting children’s rights around the world
Plan International Canada strives for a just world by advancing children’s rights and equality for girls.
We work with governments, communities and organizations to deliver a comprehensive set of programs that help ensure that children – especially girls – are safe, healthy, educated and empowered.
We support children’s rights by strengthening
We improve access to services like maternal, newborn and child health care, and we support the prevention and treatment of HIV, tuberculosis, malaria and other illnesses, including COVID-19. We work with individuals and communities to strengthen health systems and help them assert their continued right to health and critical care.
We support education from early childhood through young adulthood by providing preschool classes, vocational training and entrepreneurial-skills training as well as accelerated learning to help students catch up on missed schooling. We build community support to prioritize children’s education, and we are experts at providing education in emergency contexts.
Safety & Protection
We support programs that keep children, especially girls, safe by preventing practices like child marriage, female genital cutting and other gender-based violence. We also amplify girls’ voices to ensure that they are included in decision-making that affects them.
We provide education, protection and life-saving supplies that address the unique barriers faced by children and girls in crisis.
Nutrition & Well-being
We provide urgent assistance with food supplies and grocery vouchers. We also equip communities with the skills and support to grow sustainable food and start income-generating businesses that protect them against economic shocks.
The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have been particularly devastating for girls, setting back decades of progress toward gender equality around the world. In addition to providing emergency assistance like hygiene kits, food and water, we pivoted our projects to address the lesser-known repercussions of the pandemic, like increased gender-based violence. This and other forms of gender-based violence have worsened due to lockdowns, financial strain and the limited availability of support services for women and girls at risk.
As a participant of ARRIBA, a Plan International program supporting girls’ reproductive health and rights in Bolivia, Mery, 18, is using the power of her voice to lead response efforts in her community. Through the program’s online workshops, Mery learned about the dangers of gender-based violence and how strengthening safety systems and supporting girls’ and women’s rights can help them protect themselves in threatening environments. The workshops also provided vital information about the prevention of COVID-19, including the importance of handwashing, social distancing and staying home.
To help protect her neighbours, Mery shared what she learned. She encouraged women and girls not to stay silent in violent situations, and she taught them how to seek help through local community services.
This year, ARRIBA equipped 9,283 adolescents – including 5,112 girls – with skills to promote safety, as well as the confidence to share their knowledge to help their communities.
“I have learned that women should not suffer any kind of violence. There are laws and authorities that protect us. Adolescent women are strong, and we can make great changes in our communities.”Mery, 18, Bolivia
Ama’s education is also a true story about helping others
Ama, 14, longed to go to school, but, like many girls her age in northern Ghana, her family was experiencing poverty and they believed marriage was the best solution to ensure her financial security.
The good news is that, through the support of Plan International’s REACH program in Ghana, Ama is now on a different path – and so are the 4,034 other girls participating in REACH this year. At a community meeting organized by the program, Ama’s mother, Laarba, learned about the dangers of child marriage. Understanding that marriage would jeopardize Ama’s future and that school was a lifeline, Laarba postponed the marriage and enrolled Ama in an accelerated-learning course so she could catch up to her peers. These supplementary programs are particularly important when lockdowns and school closures further limit educational opportunities for children.
Ama is excelling, and she hopes to carry the torch of education forward to inspire more good news stories in her community.
The COVID-19 pandemic has put an even greater financial strain on families like Ama’s around the world, meaning more girls than ever are unable to attend school and are at risk for early marriage.
After seeing the incredible difference that school has made in Ama’s life, Laarba became a volunteer with the REACH program. Now she helps ensure that others have bright futures by raising awareness about the importance of girls’ education. With the support of women like Laarba and the motivation of girls like Ama, we are working with communities to help girls stay in school and reach their full potential.
This year alone, the REACH program supported the education of 8,784 children!
Raising her voice for change: Kristine’s story
Canadian Youth Engagement
Girls Belong Here Canadian youth leaders shape innovation and activism
Gursimran, Joanna, Natalie, Victoria, Tehreem, Judy, Annie, and Zara (clockwise from top left) were participants in the 2021 Girls Belong Here program.
Since 2016, Plan International Canada’s Girls Belong Here program has created opportunities for girls and young women to step into high-profile professional roles for a day. The program demonstrates the power of girls’ voices in leadership and decision-making.
This year’s cohort of 40 inspiring youth leaders from throughout Canada took part in virtual “seat shares” and in Innovation Hubs, a new program addition that further supports youth engagement and activism. The Innovation Hubs provided a two-way learning opportunity in which girls shared their perspectives on key projects and issues – such as sustainability, diversity and inclusion – to help inform the companies’ future work.
For Girls Belong Here partner The Body Shop, the Innovation Hubs and seat shares were opportunities to bring more diverse voices to the table and discuss the company’s social activism. Hub participants in Canada and the U.S. also shared their insights about youth advocacy, which highlighted the need to increase opportunities for youth voices to be heard. Suggestions included creating a youth advisory council that would help The Body Shop shape its business decisions.
“We walked away with incredible insight about how to power youth-led activism campaigns and how to conduct ourselves as a responsible business that wants to engage youth on a day-to-day basis.” Hilary Lloyd, VP of marketing and activism for The Body Shop in North America
“It was such an incredible opportunity to discuss youth civic engagement and empowerment with the team at The Body Shop. This experience will be carried forward into my life’s mission of continuing to support and empower women.”Teagan, 23, an Innovation Hub participant
The Honourable Maryam Monsef (former Minister of International Development and Minister for Women and Gender Equality) joins youth ambassadors Katherine Dibbon and Jenn Wani and educator and activist Rosemary Ganley in an intergenerational dialogue about gender equality (individuals pictured clockwise from top left).
“Adolescent girls, in all their diversity, are particularly excluded from decision-making. Without their meaningful participation, their unique needs are often ignored.”Katherine Dibbon, 20, youth ambassador
Amplifying girls’ voices on global platforms
As a youth ambassador for Plan International Canada, Katherine collaborated with us on advocacy initiatives designed to ensure that girls and young women play a greater role in shaping solutions to shared global challenges. Global advocacy is an essential part of Plan International Canada's work, as it influences the Canadian government's and other leaders' policies, which helps advance children’s rights and equality for girls.
In advocating for and with youth in 2021, we were proud to contribute to the Generation Equality Forum’s Global Acceleration Plan, a set of guiding principles for global leaders on prioritizing gender equality. A UN-led initiative, this document contains tangible actions that governments, corporations and other global leaders can adopt in their policy-making.
Our advocacy work supported youth like Katherine in demanding that financial resources be dedicated to ensuring that adolescent girls and young feminist leaders are included in critical decision-making. When this recommendation was incorporated into the Global Acceleration Plan, we celebrated a success in promoting the needs and rights of girls and young women. By including girls’ voices in policy, we change how decisions that impact them will be made for years to come.
A partnership for health Tackling key diseases with the Global fund
We would also like to thank our other institutional partners, without whom our work wouldn't be possible :
Thank you for supporting girls and children around the world
Though the challenges brought forth by the COVID-19 pandemic have been significant, we are proud of what we have accomplished in supporting the rights of children globally. We have made significant strides in our efforts to create a just world and support girls as change-makers in their communities. We are eager to keep the momentum going and remove the barriers that keep children – especially girls – from reaching their full potential.
Plan International Canada is grateful to you for your commitment to this work and for sharing our vision of lasting, positive change. From all of us, thank you.
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