May 24, 2018

Challenging Gender Bias Through Sports in El Salvador

Jessica participates in Plan's Champions of Change
Jessica participates in Plan's Champions of Change

Jessica is the youngest of five children in a low-income family in El Salvador. She is motivated and a hard-worker but struggles to remain in school due to the family’s socio-economic situation.

For Jessica to pursue education past the sixth grade, she would have to leave her family for a different community where violence would pose a serious threat to her safety. Indeed, girls and young women throughout the country are frequently exposed to elevated levels of crime, gang violence, and instability leading to higher levels of marginalization and physical or emotional abuse. For girls to overcome these obstacles, they need male allies to become role models within their communities.

With the introduction of Plan International’s Champions of Change Project last year, girls and boys are given the opportunity to work together to examine behaviors in their families and communities that limit educational opportunities for girls. Through co-ed activities like the Champions of Change soccer leagues, participants become change agents and allies that challenge gender bias, sexual behaviors, and learn about non-violent conflict resolution strategies in a safe, inclusive, and fun environment. Together, young people throughout El Salvador are leveling the playing field by breaking the cycle of poverty and violence through community engagement, collaboration, and equal opportunities for girls.

With Champions of Change, Jessica is helping to build a community where she feels safe to express her opinions, gain self-esteem, and have the opportunities she needs to be successful and thrive.

From all of us here at Plan International USA, thank you for your continued support. Your generosity makes our work for children around the world possible.

-Plan International USA

Feb 23, 2018

"We Can Stop Child Marriage"

When born into extreme poverty, a child is often given little to no opportunity for educational development and lacks access to health services. In Nepal, to make ends meet, a child may be married at a young age to a much older man, or may move to urban areas for work and face an increased risk of trafficking. As one of seven children, Riva had minimal support from her family to attend school regularly. At 14, Riva’s parents began searching for her groom as they believed her marriage will help support their family.

Exploring Better Options

In her community, Riva now participates in Plan’s BLOOM (Better Life Options and Opportunities Model) club where she learns about goal setting, reproductive health, child rights, hygiene, and has also gained the skills and confidence necessary to speak in large groups and advocate for herself and her peers. BLOOM clubs are providing vital information on health services and social networks for young women to give them the knowledge, resources, and support they need to be empowered to make informed decisions about their health and rights.

Taking what she learned from BLOOM, Riva is now discussing the disadvantages of child marriage with her parents directly. She can now defend herself and her right to education, and was eventually able to stop her own marriage. She continues to share her story with her community and speaks out against child marriage and on behalf of girls’ rights with Plan throughout Nepal.

“I would like to thank Plan International from the bottom of my heart for bringing a big change in my life.”


Dec 1, 2017

Addressing the Rohingya Crisis


Since August 2017, over 600,000 Rohingya people have fled from Myanmar to Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh. They joined the more than 200,000 Rohingya already in the area.The Rohingya population in Cox’s Bazar remains highly vulnerable, having experi-enced severe trauma and living in difficult conditions. Plan spoke with an 18-year-old young women named Senowara to learn about her family's plight.

“We had one story building in Myanmar with a bathroom, kitchen, dining room and lounge. Now we just have a small tent in this camp, where I live with my mother and younger sister,” says Senowara.

Fleeing the Violence

Senowara’s father died in Mayanmar and when the violence broke out, she and her mother Jaheda, 35, and 10-year-old sister Zohara were forced to flee with her uncle’s family to Bangladesh, arriving in Balukhali Camp, Cox’s Bazar in September 2017. Camp life is very difficult for Senowara who never imagined she would find herself living in such circumstances. “There is no toilet here and no open places, so there is no privacy. The tube-well doesn’t work, the water is stinky and there is nowhere to get washed.”

Continued Risk in the Camps

Senowara’s mother fears for her daughter’s safety in the camp. “I am always scared about my daughter’s security. They are growing up and people always stare at them. I fear something bad will happen to my daughters in the camp. My worries never end.” Every day, Jaheda goes to collect relief aid after morning prayers. The distribution center is located at the main entrance to the refugee camp, which is a long distance from the family tent. Both girls are left alone in the tent during the day.“ For Senowara, she is most fearful at night when she is allowed to leave the tent as there are less people around. The camp is unlit and getting around in the dark can be a dangerous and frightening experience. “At night I go down to the valley to collect water and my sister always comes with me and most of the time, I feel afraid. We need water for everything from drinking, cooking to bathing as well as for going to the toilet.”

Plan International's Response

Orla Murphy, Plan International’s Country Director in Bangladesh says: “For girls there is a very real risk of sexual violence. This is partly because the informal settlements that are being built fail to meet basic safety standards. The camps are overcrowded, there is no privacy, anyone from outside can wander in off the streets, and the shelters that are being constructed have no doors or locks. Our experience shows that girls and women bear the biggest brunt of conflicts and emergencies and adolescent girls in particular are in need of sexual and reproductive health care and hygiene kits to deal with their periods.

In resonse to this ongoing humanitarian crisis, Plan International aims to reach approximately 194,000 people Rohingya people by supporting the needs of children and their families in WASH, Child Protection in Emergencies and Education in Emergencies. As of November 2017, Plan has reached nearly 60,000 individuals.

Senowara's Shelter
Senowara's Shelter
Makeshift camps for Rohingya people in Bangladesh
Makeshift camps for Rohingya people in Bangladesh
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