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Girls lead the charge for change!

As a Because I am a Girl supporter, you’re helping girls across South America harness their rights, and they are deeply appreciative. Hear the stories of two such inspiring youth who now feel encouraged and passionately driven to advocate for their rights, and those of others.

In the rural north of Brazil, in developing communities isolated by surrounding jungles, Val (19) and Flavia (17) grew up without their mothers nor even basic necessities. They’ve never met, but they tell a similar story: dreaming big, but – because they are girls in a society where they are not equally valued – struggling to overcome having their dreams pushed out of reach. That is, until they got involved in Plan International-run Leadership schools, giving Val, Flavia and countless others a platform to speak up for girls’ rights and rise above the barriers.

Now, Val and Flavia have FOUND THEIR voice and they’re not afraid to use THEM!

When Val came to the city and was enrolled in school, it illuminated her goals and her path to Plan. “Now I can see the things I was missing, but I didn’t know I was missing them,” she says aglow in newfound confidence.

For both girls, it was school that first set them on the way to empowerment.“I discovered that I love reading and writing,” Val happily recalls. Education is a girl’s first step to a better life in which they can learn to pursue their full potential.

But it was in leadership schools for girls where Val and Flavia discovered their strength and the inherent strength of all girls and women.

“I have knowledge today that I would never have had if I hadn’t found Plan International,” Flavia fondly states. “I wouldn’t even have looked for it.”

Flavia smiles, hands proudly on her hips.

Flavia (17)

 Val smiles and points at her Plan shirt.

Val (19)

When Plan International community outreach volunteers visited their schools, both girls eagerly joined the project. These schools – like sponsors like you – empower girls to:

 Girls participating in a leadership school session.
  • Stand against gender violence and inequality
  • Strive for and obtain leadership roles
  • Become champions of the gender equality movement
  • Become mentors and consultants to fellow girls
  • Tear down obstacles and achieve their goals
  • Believe in every girls’ rights, talents and potential to Defy Normal!

“Being with Plan International and meeting people who also think this way motivates me to go beyond and break down barriers,” Val shares, emboldened by the sense of belonging she has found in the leadership school.

Flavia is also one of over 6,500 adolescents in northern Brazil who has benefited from economic empowerment workshops that teach youth how to save and manage their money to build a brighter future. Financial education gives girls a chance to take charge of their own livelihoods and futures. For girls, the feeling of finally obtaining financial freedom and independence is priceless! And Because I am a Girlsupporters like you are ensuring girls across South America are gaining the returns of these crucial opportunities.

Youth in Colombia discuss their goal for peace

In Colombia, you are helping empower girls and victims of conflict to participate in peace-building and rebuild their lives through leadership and economic empowerment projects. You have helped:

  • Over 2,600 women and girls kickstart their career journeys by forming nearly 200 savings and loan groups
  • Over 750 youth answer their entrepreneurial calling with business trainings

Today, and every day, as a Because I am a Girl supporter, you are not only giving girls the tools and training they need to succeed to their full potential, you’re also bringing the importance of equality to the forefront across politics, industry and entire societies helping thousands of youth positively transform the status quo. Thank you.

“We visited the secretariats, met the local counsellors and attended assemblies. I realized how important it is that more women are in those places,” recounts Flavia, her fight for equality fueled after seeing firsthand the social and gender disparities women face in the workforce and in politics.

Through Plan International programs Flavia had the incredible opportunity of symbolically holding the state seat of Head of Education and Mayor for the day! “When you see a woman in that environment, you are inspired. For me, a man does not experience the things that we, girls and women, face every day. It’s a matter of being represented.”

The leadership school set Val, too, on a mission to defy the norms that hold girls back and revolutionize stereotypes. “I find it very unfair for women to be deprived of anything. No one should be limited because society has imposed it. If a woman wants to do something, she must,” she says with conviction. “If a girl likes football, what’s the problem with playing? Enough thinking that this is a boy’s sport.”

Where are they now?

Readied with a wealth of knowledge and willpower, Val and Flavia have become catalysts of change. Plan International initiatives – and inspiring donors like you – have opened their eyes to see a life not blocked by obstacles, but full of opportunities!

An empowered Flavia.

Since participating in the leadership schools, Flavia was elected president of both her school student body and of her city’s Youth Council. At school she was able to install a much-needed surveillance system to prevent robberies. "I talked with the state governor and requested, as a representative for the club, the installation of cameras. A week later, they arrived.” And in the city, where there is a lack of recreational activities for adolescents, she’s organized football and Zumba for youth groups.

“I have seen that it is possible to change our reality.” Plan International has helped Flavia flourish into a strong leader, with aspirations that have truly inspired us and countless other girls to strive higher, talk louder and be bolder. She believes, thanks to the many projects she’s been a part of, that she’ll find a good job once she’s finished secondary school. And her sights are set on nothing but the best! “I want to be elected as a councillor and one day to be elected as mayor. Or rather, I want to be elected mayor twice and make a difference for eight years.”

An empowered Val

Since discovering her voice in the leadership school, Val has developed into a confident public speaker. She often presented the school’s latest projects and represented the girls of her club in assemblies elsewhere. At these conferences, hearing from girls from around Brazil, Val realized the power of the gender equality movement. “I have met people with interests identical to mine, a diversity of thoughts, people fighting the same battles as me. I felt accepted and know that I am not alone,” Val reflects. “Today, I feel stronger to face any problems and any injustices that I might find.”

Now, Val is invited to speak to new students and share her inspiring story. She’s become a local figure and even a consultant for other girls who are blazing their own trails to a bright tomorrow. This year, Val will take the Brazilian college entrance examination and hopes to study social work to – like you – help people and make a difference in girls’ lives! “I believe in myself to fight to be an empowered woman, to have the strength within myself to do whatever I must to follow the path I want to follow.”

Thank you for being an integral part of the Because I am a Girl movement and helping girls in South America – and all over the globe – take charge of their futures and lead the charge for a just and equal world for all.

Girls of a leadership school gather in front of their drawing of a girl breaking her chains.

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