Until We Are All Equal

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Plan International Canada 2023 Annual Report

The world’s determined optimism powers us!

Anyone engaged in what’s happening in the world can quickly lose heart. That’s what a steady stream of economic turmoil, climate crises and war does to a person. Unless you’re a determined optimist.

Determined optimists know that change is possible. When reality throws up barriers, they dream up solutions. We can spot determined optimists because that’s who we are – and so are the children, young adults and partners we work with. And so are our supporters.

In this year’s Annual Report, you will read about and watch mini-documentaries that celebrate determined optimists who share our commitment to creating a world where children’s rights are respected and there is equality for girls. We’re forever grateful for your support. And you know what? None of us will stop until we’re all equal.

Read the full 2023 Annual Report

Click the cover image to launch the interactive magazine. We have embedded videos and links to additional Impact Reports. You can also download your own PDF.

screen shots of annual report pages with pictures, health section, girls participating in charity programs
2023 plan international annual report cover, title: until we are all equal

For the highlights only, see below


Watch our 2023 Annual Report Highlight Video


Messages from the CEO and Board Chair

The Power of Determined Optimism

World crises caused life-changing shifts for the communities we serve, but together we persevered, says CEO Lindsay Glassco.

People ask me all the time: “How do you stay positive and passionate when the world is in a state of perma-crisis?” Fair question. Not just for me, but for our staff, youth activists, fundraisers, board members and donors alike – and, above all, for the communities and children we work with.

It was a year of constant change: conflicts, climate crises, the lingering effects of COVID-19, economic uncertainties, digital transformations and the redefining of traditional power structures. While the global landscape presents ongoing complexities, it also brings opportunities for innovation and positive change.

Looking back on fiscal year 2023’s milestone achievements, we can see that each one is a testament to the power of determined optimism.

We achieved unprecedented impact

We completed the first year of our impact-focused All Girls Standing Strong strategy and reached 6.2 million children across our five areas of expertise. And with the launch of our Children in Crisis Response Fund, the strength of our humanitarian response will only continue to grow.

We amplified the voices of youth

We engaged more than 500,000 young people – in all their diversity – in Canada and supported youth leadership in several global forums, including the 2022 United Nations Transforming Education Summit in New York City and the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.

We future-proofed our organization

On the heels of launching our new global brand, we raised $289 million this year – a record level of financial support for our international programs! On the innovation front, GEOP (Ghana Education Outcomes Project), our first project to be financed through a results-based approach, represents a new way of working with partners to achieve impact. In Ghana, we brought together government funders, investors and education organizations to pursue the common goal of giving girls and boys access to education.

We put people at the centre

All of this progress is a testament to the passion and persistence of our engaged and enterprising staff. We continued to focus on putting people at the centre, resulting in an all-time-high staff-engagement score of 94%. Our achievements would not have been possible without our dedicated board of directors, our loyal and generous supporters and the communities and children we work with. We all believe that a world where children’s rights are respected and girls are equal is possible. And we work together to make it happen. Because that is who we are, and that is what determined optimists do.


Lindsay Glassco
President & CEO
Plan International Canada

Lindsay Glassco

Social Justice = Economic Justice

Following her six-day board visit to Ghana, Rona Ambrose reflects on how the next generation is defining — and pursuing — equality.

To a roomful of delegates and youth activists, a thoughtful young man delivers a PowerPoint presentation. He fields questions as he goes, never breaking a sweat. The topic: menstruation.

It’s not the sort of thing you see every day. But seeing it for myself during our board trip to Ghana last May was a dramatic reminder that getting boys and men involved in creating and benefiting from a world where girls are equal is a game changer.

The purpose of this six-day trip was to witness how Plan’s work is experienced by participants. The menstruation presentation, part of an incredible day of meetings with youth-led organizations in Accra, was just one example of young people leading change, often in unexpected ways.

In round-table discussions attended by young women and men, our hosts spoke candidly about sexual and reproductive health and rights, mental health and education. While their subject-matter knowledge was impressive, their passion for sharing it was nothing short of extraordinary. With extremely limited funds, they had created learning materials, expanded their programs into schools and recruited and trained volunteers to run them.

In Ghana, where approximately three quarters of unemployed adults are considered “young,” the next generation defines “equality” as getting an education, finding a good job and earning an income to help support their family and community. This is the dream, and it speaks to the intrinsic link between gender justice, social justice and economic justice.

At times, it felt like every young person we encountered was, in their own way, an activist, pushing to secure their family’s future or make a change in their community. In the northern region of Tamale, we met Ayisha, who had participated in job training via PASEWAY, a locally administered Plan program. Determined to prove that women could work in a male-dominated field, Ayisha mastered the craft of tile laying, started a business and went on to hire and train nine people – six of whom are women!

Reflecting on Ghana and my first year as chair through the lens of our five-year strategy, All Girls Standing Strong, I am awed by the ripple effect our programs have. For every Ayisha who steps into her potential, the lives of the people around her change for the better too. Over time, these ripples will be nothing short of transformational.


Hon. Rona Ambrose
Board Chair
Plan International Canada

photo of Rona Ambrose, Board Chair of Plan International Canada speaking with a mic

Stories and Impact Highlights from 2023

Our Mission

At Plan International Canada we strive to create a world where children, especially girls, learn, lead, decide and thrive. We tackle the root causes of gender inequality. We work with local governments and partners to advocate and develop programs that support children in their right to get an education and be healthy and protected from violence. We develop children’s leadership skills and their ability to earn a living. We’re also there for them when crises strike. And we stay with them to help build a healthy, safe and sustainable life.

To achieve these goals, click on our five priority areas of expertise.

Discover What We Do

young children and youth playing in a rural space

46.5% of our program expenditures supported health initiatives.

girl looking up from a makeshift shelter
Humanitarian Response & Resilience

21% our program expenditures supported humanitarian response & resilience projects.

girls who are in teacher training programs speaking to each other in a classroom

16.4% of our program expenditures supported education initiatives.

girl standing with arms crossed infront of blue wall
Protection from violence

6.7% of our program expenditures supported Protection From Violence projects.

young african students working on a loom making a long fabric
Youth leadership & economic empowerment

9.4% of our program expenditures supported Youth Leadership & Economic Empowerment projects.



group of young black children standing in a row and stretching to the left while smiling

Our goal at Plan International Canada is to build trust and a long-term presence in the communities where we work by partnering with children, families and local organizations and governments. With financial support and donations from a broad range of individuals, corporations and institutions, we delivered sustainable solutions to more than 9.3 million people (6.2 million children) last year.

Sponsorship contributions go toward community development projects that support children and their communities. This builds trusting relationships that lead to sustainable change. (Read about the Plan Effect on page 14.)

Designated contributions such as major financial donations, Gifts of Hope and ongoing contributions go to specific projects identified by our supporters. In all cases, donated funds support projects developed in partnership with community members – including children, especially girls – that address inequality and create a more just world.

We keep a close eye on the efficiency of our operations to ensure that the maximum proportion of donations goes directly to the program participants.


Where does our support come from?

  Government & other Institutional Grants 53.4%
  Investments & other Income 1%
  Gifts in Kind 10.1%
  Contributions, Gifts & Bequests 14.2%
  Child Sponsorship 21.3%

REVENUE INCREASE: We received $289 million in support in fiscal 2023, up from $274 million in fiscal year 2022.

Program expenditures

What areas of work did this funding support?

  Health 46.5%
  Protection from Violence 6.7%
  Youth leadership & Economic Empowerment 9.4%
  Education 16.4%
  Humanitarian Response
& Resilience


What percentage of donations went to Plan International Canada programs?

pie chart of Plan international canada's expense breakdown
82.9% Program expenditures 6.5% Operations 10.6% Fundraising

83 cents of every dollar went toward programming for children and their communities worldwide. We focused on improving education, health, protection from violence, humanitarian response and resilience, and youth leadership and economic empowerment. This also includes Canadian-based youth and advocacy programs.

17 cents of every dollar went toward fundraising and operations to ensure that our programs are run efficiently and effectively. These funds go toward marketing, developing and administrating our program-related services, and fundraising initiatives. We also invest in rigorous child-safeguarding and risk-management protocols training.

Total FY23 expenditures: $290 million

Our fiscal year ran from July 1, 2022, to June 30, 2023. This number includes the purchase and amortization of capital or intangible assets.


Plan International’s Global Impact in 2023

infographic review of plan international canada's results from 2023. 41.6 Million reached by Plan International Global, and 9.3 million reached by Plan International Canada alone.  The program areas Plan International works in include Health, humanitarian response & resilience,  protection from violence, economic empowerment, child sponsorship. Impact chart

Click here to see the collective impact in 2023 of Plan International’s 1,610 active projects in 83 countries. Plan International’s work reached 41.6 million children, including 22.2 million girls. Plan International Canada’s programs in Health, Humanitarian Response & Resilience, Education, Youth Leadership & Economic Empowerment, and Protection from Violence reached 9.3 million people, including 6.2 million children (3.2 million of them girls).


Powerful Stories and Powerful Points of View

youth sitting infront of a camera as part of Plan's program to put youth infront of the camera so they can tell their own stories

In 2022, we launched our Embedded Storytellers Program (ESP). It involves working with local videographers, photographers and writers alongside our Plan International colleagues and partners in the countries in which we operate. In this year’s annual report, we highlight the work of the filmmakers who have produced some of our first mini-docs from around the globe.

Useaking’s Journey, Bangladesh

When Useaking was 16, she met a young man, and together a year later, they ran away and married. She thought it would bring her freedom. It didn’t. In our first ever mini-doc filmed in Cox’s Bazar, discover how she’s ensuring that other girls keep their options open. “[Girls who study and work] can live freely and go wherever they want,” Useaking says. “If I had known, I might have made different choices.”

Useaking’s from Bangladesh looking in a mirror in side a dark room


“I think that taking a documentary-style approach to storytelling shows the actual raw emotions,” explains documentarian Elizabeth D. Costa, who filmed Useaking’s Journey in Cox’s Bazar. “I’m from that community, so there’s a genuine connection.”

Watch our mini-doc Useaking’s Journey.

Second Acts, Sierra Leone

Meet Eunice and Kumba. They are two of more than 900 women who have participated in Plan International’s teacher-training program for young women in rural Sierra Leone. Only 28% of teachers in Sierra Leone are women, which means girls rarely have role models in the classroom. It’s one of the reasons up to 75% of girls from rural areas drop out after primary school. Today, 65% of the program graduates are working as teachers. “Some people don’t believe in [educating girls], but we are trying our level best to convince them that female education is one of the most important things on this earth, because when a woman is educated, a whole nation can be educated.” says Eunice.


“The ESP aligns with a participatory and community-centric approach, ensuring the stories told are accurate and that they also uplift the communities involved,” says filmmaker Sessy M.J. Kamara.

Eunice and Kumba returned to school, and both are in a Plan teacher training program in Sierra Leone.

girls who are in teacher training programs speaking to each other in a classroom

Watch Second Acts, a mini-doc about their lives.


Wave Maker, Peru

In this short film, Natsumi speaks candidly about her life as a daughter, sister, role model and mentor in a community where one in five adolescents is pregnant. “What is missing in society? What is missing in families? What is missing overall so that we stop seeing these kinds of problems?” she asks.

Behind the lens

“We’re from a different part of Peru, but we’re Peruvians. So people we met felt more natural with us, so we could get footage that was authentic,” explains Gina Rosas, audio-visual producer at Qajsiri Films, the creators of Wave Maker.

Watch Wave Maker, our mini-doc starring Natsumi.

Natsumi and her younger brothers get ready for school.

Natsumi smiles next to two younger brother while getting ready for school

Salma, Nigeria

Salma lost her hearing as a child. Being back in school has opened new doors for her. In the Borno and Yobe regions of Nigeria, thousands of girls are unable to go to school because of disruptions or displacement, or because girls’ education isn’t valued. She participated in our Education in Crisis program. “When I grow up, I want to be a teacher,” signs Salma. “I don’t think anything can stop me.”


Aimalohi Ojeamiren is one of the first participants in our ESP young filmmakers pilot under the mentorship of Nigerian filmmaker Ike Nnaebue. They traveled to northeastern Nigeria where Plan ran an Education in Crisis project to tell Salma’s story. “I will never forget this experience,” says Ojeamiren. “I never imagined I could make a film about someone I can’t verbally communicate with. It’s a top 10 highlight as a filmmaker.”


Salma lost her hearing as a child. Being back in school has opened new doors for her.

“Discovering Salma’s world, where silence speaks volumes and resilience shines, has been an eye-opening journey. It’s a vivid reminder that when we extend a hand of support, even in the most challenging conditions, we unlock the potential for extraordinary transformation. Thanks to Plan International Canada, I’ve witnessed first-hand the profound impact of education in conflict zones. Salma’s story isn’t just about overcoming barriers; it’s a powerful testament to our collective ability to create a more compassionate and beautiful world, one story at a time.”

— Nigerian filmmaker Ike Nnaebue

“Discovering Salma’s world, where silence speaks volumes and resilience shines, has been an eye-opening journey. It’s a vivid reminder that when we extend a hand of support, even in the most challenging conditions, we unlock the potential for extraordinary transformation. Thanks to Plan International Canada, I’ve witnessed first-hand the profound impact of education in conflict zones. Salma’s story isn’t just about overcoming barriers; it’s a powerful testament to our collective ability to create a more compassionate and beautiful world, one story at a time.”

— Nigerian filmmaker Ike Nnaebue

Watch a mini-doc on Salma

shot from the mini-doc Diary of a Maasai Girl, featuring Poria from Kenya

Diary of a Maasai Girl, Kenya

Poria attends  a  school  in  Kenya  where  many  of  the Maasai  girls have  escaped  early  marriage  and/ or female  genital  mutilation.  In this short film she explains how the unexpected offer of a kind neighbour set her  on a  course  to transform herself, her  classmates and  her  community. “[We  will  be]  great  women in  society:  ladies  of substance,  ladies  of  integrity,  and  ladies who  [can]  depend upon themselves …  and  be  great  leaders  of tomorrow,” says Poria.

Watch Diary of a Maasai Girl, a mini-doc on Poria


Armstrong Too had four hours to interview Poria, gather footage (including aerial shots) and take photos. But the Kenyan filmmaker managed to make it all happen. “Discovering that Poria’s father who likely never had a formal education himself [and has 35 children], has taken a remarkable step by deviating from Maasai traditions to champion all his daughters’ education, including Poria’s, was truly inspiring,” says Too. “Plan International Canada’s shift in storytelling approach, emphasizing the protagonist and allowing the audience to immerse themselves in the protagonist’s experiences, is a strategic move that is bound to captivate a larger audience.”

Paying it Forward, Ghana

shot from documentary on a girl from Ghana breaking gender stereotypes and achiving financial security

When Ayisha announced her plan to achieve financial security, friends attempted to talk her out of it, saying it would destroy her beauty. Watch this short film to discover what happened and why it made total strangers in Ghana stop and stare. “First, I thought it was for males,” says Ayisha. “I was a bit afraid to learn it. But if you don’t try, how will you know?”

Video by: Geoffrey Buta

Watch Paying it Forward

Girls Belong Here

profile photos of canadian girls who participated in Plan Canada's Girl's belong here program

Girls Belong Here has been helping self-identifying girls and young women in all their diversity between the ages 14 of 24 connect with civil-society, corporate, academic and government leaders as part of a seat share. Here’s what participants said they learned from the experience.

Watch Girls Belong Here

Plan for A Better Future

plan canada donor's review their experience donating to charity

Leah Brand-Jacobsen and Shirley Bates have never met, but they share an important connection. Each of them has made a strong commitment to helping others, especially children, through a lifetime of actions – and beyond with a gift in their will. Discover their reflections on why they made this important decision.

Watch Plan for A Better Future

Our Supporters and Champions

Our Supporters

Thanks to our supporters, including the following donors who contributed over the past three years and whose lifetime giving has exceeded $100,000.

“Thank you for your generous support and for joining a community of global citizens whose determined optimism powers our collective momentum. Together, we won’t stop until we’re all equal.”– Lindsay Glassco, president and CEO of Plan International Canada

View our generous supporters

Legacy Donors

We are incredibly grateful to recognize these thoughtful and generous individuals who have contributed to Plan International Canada through a gift in their estate. Their legacy continues to improve the lives of children, especially girls, all over the world.

View legacy donors


Impact Reports from Plan International Canada

We provide supporters with regular updates on the projects they help fund.

Read our Impact Reports

profile photo of BARBARA FERGUSON a Plan Canada supporter

Donor Profile

When our donor relations department reached out to Barbara and Keith Ferguson about an emergency fund that helps women and children in desperate situations, the Calgary couple was all ears. As long-time donors who support our education and poverty reduction programs through their family legacy fund, the Fergusons have an appreciation for multi-year projects that work with participant communities over time to create change that endures.

But The Children in Crisis Response Fund (CICRF) was something different.

Rather than years, it focused on hours. Specifically, the first 72-hours of a crisis: the window when a child’s risk of being trafficked or kidnapped skyrockets if they get lost or separated from their families.

For the Fergusons, the value proposition was clear. “Lobbying and campaigning for donations takes weeks, but in a disaster, people need help right away. If the funds are already there, Plan International, with staff on the ground in countries around the world, can respond in real time,” Barbara explains.

With the Fergusons generous inaugural pledge comes the hope the fund will resonate with other donors who want to make a meaningful difference, confident their dollars are getting to the right place.

“This fund is for anyone who has ever seen a crisis in the news and wanted to help but didn’t know how. It provides the opportunity to make the biggest difference, immediately, to children whose world has been turned upside down. From a donor’s point of view, it’s a clear choice,”
– Barbara Ferguson

We would also like to thank our institutional partners, without whom our work wouldn't be possible:

Thank you for supporting girls and children around the world

We are proud of what we have accomplished during a challenging year. With your support, we helped make a difference in the lives of children, especially girls. We are determined optimists, and we won’t give up on our efforts until we are all equal.

Plan International Canada is grateful for your commitment to this work and for sharing our vision to create a world where children’s rights are respected, and there’s equality for girls.

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