Gender equality and female empowerment are fundamental to the realization of human rights. Experience and research have shown clear links between achieving gender equality, fulfilling children’s rights and ending child poverty. Investing in a girl’s future will not only improve her life, but also the economic condition of her family and her community.
Our commitment to the full participation of children in their societies involves integrating gender equality into all of our programs. Gender equality is a benefit to all, and it is a fight we take on together — men, women, girls and boys in all our diversity and gender identities.
Our sponsors support not only their child, but the communities they live in. The active participation of all community members is an essential component of our work. We’re supporting communities to tackle the root causes of gender inequality and challenge gender norms, which can be detrimental to children. Together we’re working to reshape unequal power relations, end harmful practices, such as child marriage and trafficking, and remove the barriers preventing all children and young people from reaching their full potential.
The earlier the root causes of gender inequality are addressed, the more likely it is that new gender roles and norms will emerge, bringing about transformative change in families and communities. This transformation is important because during early adolescence, when girls experience dramatic physical, emotional, social and cognitive changes, gender norms have often made them less able than their male counterparts to claim their human rights.
From gender surveys taken in the areas in which we work, we learned:
- Half of boys believe it’s not up to a girl to decide whom she marries.
- 60% of girls say if a man is cheating, it’s because his girlfriend wasn’t taking care of him.
- Half of girls and boys agree it’s a girl’s responsibility to prevent pregnancy.
That’s why one of Plan’s gender equality programs, Champions of Change, is challenging social norms by asking boys and girls to think differently about gender, and encourage the people around them to do the same. Girls in the program determine what they can to do promote equality, and boys self-reflect and identify the harmful consequences of machismo and harassment.
Girls and boys in all their diversity in Champions of Change then come together to play soccer — an activity that's typically just for boys. Through the coed soccer, boys, brothers and fathers get to see the girls’ power. They learn how to work together as a team. And in doing that, together, they’re building a more equal tomorrow.
Champions of Change is one of many Plan programs tackling the root causes of gender inequality, using GirlEngage’s innovative approach of letting girls lead the way.
Plan stands with girls, children and young people in all their diversity and gender identities, to help them overcome oppression, receive the support that is unique to their needs and achieve universal equality.