Spreading the word

It's been a huge year for our community.

This year saw us engaging with our wonderful community in new and exciting ways to help spread the word about our work with girls and young women.

International Day of the Girl

On October 11 we took to Federation Square for International Day of the Girl. Melburnians took part in a giant game of snakes and ladders with the aim of graduating from school. Along the way they were confronted by the barriers and opportunities facing girls around the world trying to complete their education.

The event was covered across morning radio and online newspapers, and gave us the chance to engage with passersby on the work we do with girls and young women.

The unique barriers facing girls around the world, International Day of the Girl 2015
The unique barriers facing girls around the world, International Day of the Girl 2015
Our giant snakes and ladders game showing the unique barriers facing girls, International Day of the Girl 2015
Our giant snakes and ladders game showing the unique barriers facing girls, International Day of the Girl 2015
Dreaming big
Dreaming big, International Day of the Girl 2015
Winners & Losers
Winners & Losers' Melanie Vallejo joined us at Federation Square to show her support

Make for Good

This year we teamed up for the first time with Etsy Australia and their incredibly talented makers as part of the ‘Make for Good’ campaign. With the theme ‘silver linings’, makers developed a collection of handmade goods, with each donating at least 20% of proceeds to Because I am a Girl. This first year of the campaign exceeded all of our expectations, raising an incredible $30,000 which is enough for 150 women in Cambodia to start their own businesses.

Sharing skills

As part of the Make for Good campaign, we had the opportunity to send two of Etsy’s makers to Cambodia to take part in a skills exchange with some of the local women Plan International works with. Etsy’s Sarah Ponthieu shares their stories.

In early May Sydney-based soap maker Hepzabeth Evans and miniature embroidery hoop maker Sonia Lyne departed for Cambodia, accompanied by blogger and photographer Emilie Ristevski (Hello Emilie) who captured the journey. A week of travel across the country (courtesy of the generous team at Intrepid Travel) gave the makers the opportunity to learn about Cambodia’s culture, history and people before the much-anticipated main event – the skills exchange.

It was the culmination of months of anticipation and planning for both makers, a moment tinged with equal parts excitement and nerves. “I was really looking forward to meeting the women and children in their community and understanding how Plan International puts the funds we all helped to raise to good use,” Hepzabeth said.

Taking a seat on a large green tarp that had been set up in the centre of the village and joining the circle of local women gathered there, nerves were soon dispelled by the broad smiles on the faces of all involved. Then it was straight down to business with the local women teaching Hepzabeth and Sonia to basket weave, an income source for many involved.

The Australian makers took to the techniques quickly, with the teaching process punctuated by laughs all round.

Sonia Lyne and Hepzabeth Evans Photo credit Emilie Ristevski
Sonia Lyne and Hepzabeth Evans Photo credit Emilie Ristevski
Hepzabeth and Sonia were taught basket weaving techniques by local women Som and Seng Photo credit Emilie Ristevski
Hepzabeth and Sonia were taught basket weaving techniques by local women Som and Seng Photo credit Emilie Ristevski
Hepzabeth learning basket weaving techniques by local women Som and Seng Photo credit Emilie Ristevski
Hepzabeth learning basket weaving techniques by local women Som and Seng Photo credit Emilie Ristevski
Hepzabeth demonstrating soap making Photo credit Emilie Ristevski
Hepzabeth demonstrating soap making Photo credit Emilie Ristevski
Sonia teaching 13 year old Chin to embroider Photo credit Emilie Ristevski
Sonia teaching 13 year old Chin to embroider Photo credit Emilie Ristevski

Then came time to return the favour, with Sonia sharing embroidery kit packs with each of the local women and taking them through a series of basic stitches and designs.

Soap making was a skill Hepzabeth learned from her grandmother, one she was keen to pass on to the local women to bring both economic and health benefits.

“In Cambodia 75% of the people don’t have access to the simple commodity. Soap making is a skill that dates back thousands of years and most countries have their own soap making technique or special key ingredient that they like to use. It’s a skill that they can make money from as well as a skill to look after and keep their families healthy,” she said.

Both makers were deeply moved by the skills exchange experience and honoured by the generosity of all who took part.

“The entire day was emotional, moving and humbling. At so many moments I was able to look into each of the women’s eyes and smile and connect. This was a gift to me,” Sonia said.

 “You don’t need to be able to speak the same language to connect and communicate with another person.” Hepzabeth added. “You just need to be willing to open your heart and that’s what these women did, let us into their community and home.”

We’ve been overwhelmed by the positive response to the Make for Good campaign which is back again for 2016, bigger and better than ever.

A Girl's Place

On the back of our 'A right to the night' report launch we had the chance to work with threeOclock gallery in Southgate and artists to engage with the topic of gender inequality. ‘A Girl’s Place’ was the result, a month-long exhibition – that brought together artists and the general public – to explore how girls experience cities and about creating welcoming public spaces for girls.

Over 1000 people were reached through the exhibition which included an opening night with inspiring speakers, lunchtime discussion sessions, making sessions with children, and an ‘In Conversation’ session with Dumbo Feather magazine.

"We heard about the exhibition and had to come and have a look. It is so interesting to see what each of the artists has created. I had no idea safety was such a concern. I didn't think I had that concern but on reflection I think I do."

Exhibition visitor

A Girls Place

Step up for girls

In July 2015, Plan International’s Youth Ambassadors were given the challenge of coming up with a fundraising idea for the Because I am a Girl campaign.

They created Step Up for Girls, asking supporters to do a sponsored physical challenge while raising funds for our work with girls.

We had a great response, raising $3,160 and hearing stories from across the country from keen participants.

One of our youth ambassadors, Sarah walked the 1,000 steps in Mount Dandenong twice! She put the call out to her friends to join her:

“Come down around 2.30 - 3.00 to join me in this exhausting challenge which is only a slight reminder of what many girls go through on a daily basis to retrieve water for their families.”

Step up for girls Sarah

Sarah, youth ambassador.

Inside Out Nutritious Goods in Sydney raised over $2,000:

“On October 31st, we'll be doing the Coogee to Bondi walk while holding 15L of water. Why? This is something some of the girls have to do daily, when they should be in school! It's going to be a tough trek for us (especially cause we're so out of shape) but it's nothing compared to what millions of girls face everyday.”

Step up for girls Inside out nutritious

The Inside Out Nutritious Goods team

With a promising start we’re excited to see how Step Up for Girls can grow into the future. Importantly, we’re excited to be working with our youth ambassadors to create new ideas for engaging with our work and the community.