Because I am a Girl

by Plan International Canada Inc.

Here are the latest ways you’re helping bring education, opportunity and better lives to some of the world’s most secluded communities and vulnerable youth.


In the remote hills of Vietnam, some children walked up to 6 kilometres to get to school every day, creating a huge barrier to education.

Through your support, the community built a new school dormitory, now housing 50 students! The gender-separate dorms have modern facilities, enabling students to focus on studies, not challenges.

                Infographic listing benefits as: electric lighting  = evening reading; communal space = study buddies; fans and solid beds = better rest and attention; security features = safety and comfort; nearby water tank, kitchen and latrines = better health

“I don’t worry about my daughter walking to school at dawn, anymore,” says one father. “After the first semester her grades got better. She has time to read, is a lot more confident and hasn’t been absent from school.”

Indeed, the new accommodations are enabling students to flourish in many ways, especially with the support they gain from one another:

"In the evening, I study with my friends and my performance has been getting much better. I can understand full and clear my teacher’s lessons. Now I believe I can go on and study even harder" - Thi, dorm resident and student
                    Girls take study notes at their classroom desks.

More than 40% of the 100,000+ refugees currently registered in Egypt are children, but you’re helping keep them on an uplifting path of growth and learning.

You distributed over 8,200 education kits to the most vulnerable Syrian refugee and Egyptian children, across 40 public and community schools in Egypt!*

                               A girl smiles while playing in her classroom in Egypt. Copy reads “Thank you for bringing stability and schooling to children.


* Project undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada.


A student leader speaks out to her community
A student leader speaks out to her community

Your contributions are helping to protect at-risk girls in Kenya, educating communities on gender equality and child rights, keeping girls in school, and stopping violence and abuse before it starts.

In Kenya, your support has helped:

  • Educate 1,600 students (800 girls) on their rights and the importance of gender equality
  • Support students across 32 schools to become peer educators and ambassadors for children’s rights
  • Train nearly 1,800 parents in how to support their children’s safety
  • Train teachers across 15 schools to implement effective child protection measures
  • Hold five children’s assemblies, giving girls and boys a platform to raise their voices and be heard by policy officials on issues that matter
  • Initiate school elections in 90 schools, nominating student governments that represent youths’ interest.

Until now, deeply ingrained gender discrimination often led to troubling outcomes when girls reported abuse to local authorities. Families were pressured into withdrawing their complaints, payments to victims’ families were negotiated in lieu of prosecution, and victims were even forced to marry the men who had inflicted harm on them.

It’s a heartbreaking reality that, thanks to you, is rapidly changing for the better.

By strengthening the legal and social systems that protect victims of violence, your support is helping to ensure that, when girls do report abuse, they get the help they need.

With your backing, our staff are working hard with local organizations and government bodies, such as Kenya’s national child helpline, to improve response, referral, resolution, rescue and recovery procedures for at-risk girls and children – ensuring they have proper support services available to keep them safe and healthy.

Additionally, three case management committees – including teachers, health staff, police, judiciary leaders and counselors – have been trained on effective measures to prevent, detect, report and take action against instances of sexual or physical abuse, with several more committees and positive actions to come.

Not only are you giving girls knowledge of – and improved access to – their rights, you’re ensuring they’re included in local governance, so these standards are supported and sustained.

Girls raise their voices in a peaceful procession
Girls raise their voices in a peaceful procession
Education is key to changing the future for girls
Education is key to changing the future for girls

Early marriage and education

Every year, 15 million girls around the world are forced into early marriage – that’s nearly one girl every two seconds.

But we can change this fact -- education is the antidote.

When a girl gets the chance to go to school, she develops confidence and better prospects for future employment and income. She’s also more likely to marry later and have fewer -- yet healthier -- more educated children.

Investing in girls

In the northern mountains of Vietnam, we’re working with local teachers, parents, community leaders and youth to create a groundswell of support for girls in these communities.

So far, your support has helped train over 220 teachers and is promoting community and parent engagement in the importance of girls’ education at nearly 20 schools.

“Now I see that education is the only way to escape poverty,” says Sin Lao, a father whose daughter is in grade seven. “We are trying our best to let our children go to school and avoid early marriage for our daughter.”

Your contribution has helped support eight girl groups across local schools, involving 320 girls. These clubs are nurturing potential by giving girls a chance to build their confidence, learn about their rights and gain the skills they need for the future.

Brighter futures

“Discussing the consequences of early marriage has shown us the harm it causes,” says 14-year-old Ly. “I’ll only get married when I finish high school and have a job and can support myself.”

Her friend Nung says that for the first time she is deciding her own future.

“I have refused pressure from my parents to marry a boy in the village. If this had happened before, I would have gone along.”

The groups are engaging girls in discussions on the issues that matter to them through the use of music and dance, and by providing video cameras and training to give the girls an outlet to express themselves and share their opinions. Girls in these groups are also getting the opportunity to connect with local mentors -- such as other girls and women from the region who’ve succeeded in either going to school themselves or ensuring that their daughters had the chance to pursue their education.

We’ll be continuing our work to improve the lives of girls in these communities, made possible through your generosity. As for now, new opportunities are opening up for these girls – and, even though it’s just the beginning, it already means the world.

Your support reaches remote corners in Vietnam
Your support reaches remote corners in Vietnam
A family attends a healthcare check-up
A family attends a healthcare check-up

Communities in rural Zimbabwe and Mali have some of the highest maternal and child mortality rates in the world. Traditionally, local women have borne sole responsibility for pregnancy, child care, domestic work and agricultural labour – often all at once. This gruelling, unsustainable and potentially dangerous load sets the stage for health complications and can have a devastating domino-effect on children and families.

Meanwhile, following existing cultural traditions, very few men have pitched in to help their wives with domestic chores or accompany them or their children to the clinic when needed. And yet, it is male participation in these very tasks that is vital to keeping families strong and flourishing. Having the support of their husbands to lighten a mother's workload and ensure she can access the health services she needs can make a lifesaving difference for pregnant women and their children.

With the help of donors like you, Plan is getting men involved to improve the health of their entire family. With your contribution, we’ve trained dozens of local men and community leaders on the importance of gender equality and maternal health, and together we’re shattering stereotypes and fostering new understanding.

"Male engagement sessions have enlightened a lot of men", says Elijah, a project leader in Zimbabwe."They help their wives with household chores, accompany them to prenatal checkups, and include them in household decision-making."

What's more, these men are now working as champions for women and children by facilitating peer-to-peer and group discussions with other men about what they can do to help improve the health of their families and become better parents and partners.

Harare, another maternal health ambassador, confirmed the impact these interventions are having:“Men have embraced shared responsibilities and now appreciate that gender roles are not set in stone. Men are breaking the rigid systems that have haunted maternal, newborn and child health for centuries."

These changes are reinforced throughout the community and they have a direct effect on the health of women and children. Thanks to additional training for health care workers, clinics are more welcoming, engaging men with simple activities --  like listening to their baby’s heartbeat -- that can have big pay offs in encouraging men to provide the support their family needs.

Already, nurses have seen an increase in the number of men accompanying their wives to the clinic and getting involved, and husbands have been happy to notice an improvement in the health of their wives and children. Even health workers – like Mr. Tikabo, from Mali, who now offers women vital medications and health services on credit – are more committed to improving access to female healthcare.

Women are noticing improved health too, along with better quality of life and more confidence, security and support in their marriages and parenting. Some even identified a change in their husbands’ perceptions towards their children, where they now value and treat both sons and daughters equally.

“We have opened new eyes. The truth is, we were blinded by our patriarchal ways of thinking,” says one male gender equality champion in Zimbabwe. “It is important to empower our wives by ensuring that their rights have been realized, including their right to access and utilize maternal health services.”

Thanks to your investment in women and girls everywhere, we’re helping establish a cycle of progress that results in healthier and happier children and stronger families, which are the backbone of development and strong communities.

*Project undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada.

Listening to baby
Listening to baby's heartbeat
Elijah hosts a gender equality meeting
Elijah hosts a gender equality meeting
School snacks help fuel learning
School snacks help fuel learning

Without education there can be no development; yet 62 million girls around the world are not in school, and even more struggle to remain in the classroom, where they belong.

From violence at school, to early marriage and domestic chores at home, girls face many barriers to education. The injustice to them is reason enough for change, but the truth is that everyone suffers when girls are denied the right to lead full lives.

That's why, with your support, Plan is working with communities in Mali to create friendly and safe learning environments for girls, while encouraging parents to send their daughters to school.

Thanks to you, fourteen schools now have gender-separate latrines, providing girls with privacy and safety from harassment. And child protection and gender equality have now been incorporated into action plans and policies for over 30 schools.

In addition, large-scale awareness campaigns have been implemented through “Kids Waves” radio broadcasts, enabling girls to call on their local leaders and communities to respect their right to an education.

Thanks to this project, we’re already seeing progress    girls’ enrolment is increasing with the improved quality and inclusiveness of schools!


*This project receives financial support from the Government of Canada through Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD).


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Organization Information

Plan International Canada Inc.

Location: Toronto, Ontario - Canada
Website: http:/​/​​
Project Leader:
Sara Psenicka
Toronto, Ontario Canada

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