13 year-old Awa used to miss school when she had her period. But since new segregated toilets have been installed, she can now manage her periods with safety and dignity.

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providing girls with safe and clean toilets in Burkina faso.

13-year-old Awa remembers having to manage her periods in the bushes near her school in the Centre East region of Burkina Faso.

“When I first came to this school, the latrines were bad. There were no separate latrines for boys and girls.

Awa

This lack of a safe place to manage their periods often led to many of Awa’s classmates staying home from school when they had their periods. Access to education in Burkina Faso is already a challenge for girls, with the country facing insecurity and internal displacement. Missing school due to a lack of safe and clean toilets can lead to some girls dropping out of education altogether and never returning, placing them at greater risk of child marriage and other forms of gender-based violence.

Georgette, a teacher at Awa’s school, remembers when menstrual hygiene management was a major challenge for her female students, and how it affected the rest of their lives. “There are so many barriers to girls’ access to education, including child, early and forced marriage and the burden of housework. Before the segregated latrines were installed, many girls would stay at home on their period, and some would end up dropping out altogether. It meant that many girls failed school, especially if their period coincided with exams or assessments.”

With the support of Plan International, Awa’s school has now built separate toilets for girls and boys, as well as installing new hand washing facilities and teaching girls how to make their own reusable pads. The new facilities have meant that girls can now manage their periods in safety and dignity. Awa is thrilled with the change.

“The latrines are brilliant, and we can stay in school when we have our period. We just change our pads in the latrines and go back to class.”

you can help provide communities with access to safe, clean toilets by purchasing a gift of hope.

Georgette has seen the difference the toilets have made to the confidence of her female students, and their ability to attend classes and concentrate while they are at school.

“Before, there was nowhere for the girls to change in private as the latrines were mixed and there was no door. Now the girls are happy they can manage their period and stay in school. These latrines have had an impact on the girls’ academic performance. The girls attend classes and do not miss them like they did before.

“I would like everyone to know that girls too can build the country like men. What men can do, girls can do too. There is a saying that ‘to educate a girl is to educate a nation’. I want all girls in Burkina Faso to attend school.”


We believe young people are the experts of their own experience and their voices and ideas play an essential role in shaping Plan International’s work. Initially developed by Plan International Philippines in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan (2013), the Youth Reporter Project is one way we empower young people to tell their own stories and raise their voices about the issues that matter to them and to their communities. The project provides mobile journalism (mo-jo) training for young people aged 13 to 24, allowing participants to capture and produce digital stories and news reports using smartphones.

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telling their own stories

A new wave of citizen journalists.

We believe young people are the experts of their own experience and their voices and ideas play an essential role in shaping Plan International’s work, from informing our advocacy recommendations to governments, to guiding our program activities and our emergency response plans during crises.

Initially developed by Plan International Philippines in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan (2013), the Youth Reporter Project is one way we empower young people to tell their own stories and raise their voices about the issues that matter to them and to their communities. 

The project provides mobile journalism (mo-jo) training for young people aged 13 to 24, allowing participants to capture and produce digital stories and news reports using smartphones.

The youth-friendly training toolkit has been utilised in a number of countries where Plan International works, and its five modules provide guidance around the many aspects of reporting, from the theoretical (ethics and principles of journalism) to the practical (equipment, photography, script writing, editing and writing for social media).

Following training, participants are equipped with the skills and knowledge to put their learnings into practice as young citizen journalists, media literacy advocates, and change agents in their communities. 

Keep scrolling to to visit some of the communities where Plan International works, led by young people who have completed mobile journalism training.

14-year-old Jeneba dreams of being a lawyer so she can defend people’s rights. But for girls in Sierra Leone, it can be hard to attend school and finish their education.

In Tanzania, many families rely on their crops for food as well as income. When crops fail many children, like 9-year-old January, are forced out of school and into work to help support their families.

The effects of climate change are being felt heavily in Bangaldesh. But Shejuti is using her passion and skills to ensure that no one in her community has to loose their homes or leave their loved ones behind.

As a member of a Girls Group in her school in Vietnam, 15-year-old Luyen is helping her family and community adapt to the changing climate.

Plan International has supported Fransiska’s community in Indonesia to construct and maintain a fresh water supply. It provides safe and clean water to her community, and allows girls to concentrate on their studies.

To see more stories from Plan International projects around the world, follow the link below.


12-year-old ZamZam, from the Togdheer region of Somaliland, is one of the lucky ones. She is still enrolled in school. But the severe drought in Somalia, which has bought the country to the brink of famine, makes holding on to her education a constant challenge..

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Holding On To Education In Somaliland

“Sometimes we have breakfast and sometimes we don’t have it. I feel hungry when I have classes. When I’m hungry I can’t study well.”

ZamZam

12-year-old ZamZam, from the Togdheer region of Somaliland, is one of the lucky ones. She is still enrolled in school. But the severe drought in Somalia, which has bought the country to the brink of famine, makes holding on to her education a constant challenge. Like many of her classmates and friends, ZamZam is having to split her daily time between attending classes and fetching water for households and animals from ever decreasing and distant water sources. Women and girls are mainly responsible for water collection as part of their household duties.

“Since the drought started, we often miss school because of other priorities at home such as taking care of animals and fetching water for the family. The water collection points are now quite distant. If we leave at 8:30am to collect water, we don’t get back home until around noon, and that’s how we miss school.” explains 18-year-old Hibbaq.

More than two decades of conflict have crippled Somalia’s education system, and the drought has compounded an already dire situation for girls. Even before the rains failed, more than 70% of school-aged children were out of school. Due to cultural practices and gender beliefs, girls were already more likely to be taken out of school, putting them at greater risk of sexual violence, child labour and early marriage.

Of the 2.4 million school-aged children affected by the drought in Somalia, 1.7 million are now out of school.

Like ZamZam, Hibbaq is still in school, but the impacts of the drought on her education are evident.

“Our school has one classroom that has all children from grades 4 to 8. All the children sit together facing one blackboard. The class is divided into three parts and one teacher gives lessons to all children but at a different fixed time. When the teacher gives us homework, we wait until the morning and do it at school because we don’t have any light at home. The school toilets don’t have locks and we don’t like to use them.” says Hibbaq. 

In a vicious cycle, schools are closing due to low numbers, forcing those still enrolled to travel further to learn. These arduous journeys, usually while hungry and without any water to drink, is causing more to drop out. 

“We walk long distances to get to school, and we are afraid that we might meet a person that may treat us badly. We also fetch water as a group to reduce the risks of being attacked by someone, but when my neighbours have water I have to go alone because I have no choice.”

Hibbaq

Help girls hold on to their education.

12-year-old Juweriya, along with her mother and grandmother, moved to be closer to water and essential services after all their livestock died, which for pastoralists families means loss of livelihood and income. There is little food to eat and the family are badly undernourished.  

“We eat twice a day. Food has run out, and the fields where food used to be brought from have dried out. So we only cook two times a day. Sometimes I have breakfast and sometimes I don’t get it. I get sick sometimes. When I have breakfast, I am okay, but when I don’t have breakfast, I get sick.”

Juweriya

But she is determined to continue her education. “Most mornings I wake up at 5am as I have to be at school by 7am. If at 7am we are not there, we will be in trouble. I get up early, I pray, put tea on the fire, fetch water and then go to school. I come every day.”

Donate now to help girls’ hold on to their education. Your gift can help fund feeding programs in schools, provide families with vital basics like food, medicine and school supplies, set up emergency classrooms and learning programs, and provide parenting skills workshops to improve family dynamics and explain the benefits of girls’ education.


Magreth and Petrider both grew up in Tanzania, and both have been supported by Plan International at different times during their lives. Today, in their own spheres of influence, they are working to tackle issues that are impacting girls in their communities. And they’re empowering other young women to know their rights and reach their potential.

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young women Leading change in Tanzania

Magreth and Petrider both grew up in Tanzania, and both have been supported by Plan International at different times during their lives.

Today, in their own spheres of influence, they are working to tackle issues that are impacting girls in their communities.

And empowering other young women to know their rights and reach their potential.

magreth

Sponsored through Plan International from the age of three, 26-year-old Magreth is now a medical doctor and intern in Tanzania.

She is currently pursuing her Master of Public Health and works as a junior researcher, leader, gender equality and public health advocate. Magreth also works part-time as a content creator and presenter on a radio station and writes and produces health-related content.

She loves working with children and adolescents, being creative, grasping new ideas, and desires to lead a life that inspires others.

“Tanzania is one of those countries with a high prevalence of child marriage. Approximately two out of five young girls become married before they reach the age of 18 years, it’s a very big problem here. I came to realise [there are] a lot of factors that contribute to this high number of child marriages in our community.

“Among them is unequal education and opportunities between girls and boys, and also the extreme poverty [faced by the] majority of families. Marriage [becomes a way] to relieve financial hardships because when they marry their child they get a dowry, but also they are no longer taking care of that child so it’s somehow a relief to that family.

“That’s why we empower girls… we are more beyond getting married. [If they] look beyond getting married they can become great… they can take initiative to fight for their future.

“I was able to experience my educational journey with no stress due to financial hardship. This [sponsorship] program made sure that I got school fees and other school materials so I was able to conduct my studies without stress.

“This made me [able] to focus more on my career and I’m very happy that I was able to achieve my dreams of being a doctor. So thank you so much Plan International, I am so proud of being one of the sponsor children.”

petrider

27-year-old Petrider is a youth and gender equality advocate in Tanzania and has served on a number of advisory councils and boards, to progress the rights of girls and young people.

Petrider was a co-founder of Plan International’s Youth For Change program in 2014 and was a pioneer of our Youth Takeover initiatives.

She  holds a Bachelor of Arts in  International Relations, a Post-Graduate degree in Economic Diplomacy and was awarded A Commonwealth Point of Light Award from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2018 for her voluntary work to campaign to end gender-based violence in the commonwealth.

“I work as a girls rights advocate. A lot of work centres around youth and girls rights and adversity. But also I’m really passionate about the protection of girls rights.

“The majority of young girls are not educated on their rights. Young girls can really not know that they are not supposed to be married at a young age or that they are not supposed to be sexually abused because they do not have that access to know their rights.

“Once we have more interventions to ensure that young girls have access to know their rights and are able to successfully advocate more for their rights, we have that protection mechanism for young girls.

“I was the co-founder of Youth for Change… whereby we engaged different young people from the United Kingdom, Bangladesh and Ethiopia in a movement which advocates to end child marriage and gender based violence. This is led by Plan International. We really work to advocate for policy changes and this is especially in line with ending child marriage and ending female genital mutilation.

“I currently serve as a youth advisory board member for the United Nations Human Rights office which is a part of making the United Nations more inclusive. We work to promote children’s rights, especially in conflict and vulnerable communities.

So we are working together with a lot of different societies and we’re focusing on materials that will influence many countries at the global level on how children can be protected. Children that are affected by climate change, children that are affected by civil wars, children that are affected by gender based violence.. All those are some of the issues that we are working on to ensure that young people have access to their rights.”

Earlier this year, Magreth and Petrider were part of our special online Thank You Week event.

The event gave our supporters the opportunity to connect with these inspiring young women and if you missed it, you can watch a recap at the link below.


2022 marked 10 years of International Day of the Girl. Every year on October 11, the world recognises the unique challenges that girls face globally and celebrates their enormous potential to bring about change. We look back at some of the incredible progress we’ve seen over the past 10 years when it comes to progressing gender equality both in Australia and around the globe.

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Gender Equality

10 years of progress

This year marked 10 years of International Day of the Girl.

Every year on October 11, the world recognises the unique challenges that girls face globally and celebrates their enormous potential to bring about change.

We look back at some of the incredible progress we’ve seen over the past 10 years when it comes to progressing gender equality both in Australia and around the globe.

In 2010, Julia Gillard became Australia’s 27th Prime Minister and the first woman to hold the office. In 2012, she set Australian politics on fire and made world news with her unforgettable misogyny speech, giving words to the fury and frustration of many Australians.

Over the past 10 years, the proportion of young women forced into child marriage decreased by 15% and progress has been significant in regions previously marked by high levels of child marriage.

And around the globe, we’ve seen gender gaps in enrolment and attendance decline, which means fewer girls are out of school. UNESCO notes secondary school enrollment for females increased from 72% in 2012 to 76% in 2020.

The global adolescent birth rate amongst girls aged 15–19 dropped from 47 to 41.2 births per 1,000 between 2012 to 2020.

In 2017 the #MeToo hashtag went viral, sparking the anti-sexual harassment movement and uncovering the magnitude of sexual violence as an issue. The movement paved the way for victims of sexual violence, regardless of gender, to come forward, share their stories and hold their perpetrators to account.

The number of female youths aged 15–24 years who are illiterate almost halved between 1995 and 2018, going from 100 million in 1995 to 56 million in 2018.

Girls, young women and gender diverse young people have played an enormous role in spearheading the movement to end climate change – from Greta Thunberg catalysing the global School Strike 4 Climate in 2018, to First Nations activists like Bundjalung woman, Amelia Telford, and Gudanji Wakaja woman, Rikki Dank leading activism and advocating for First Nations voices to be heard here in Australia.

Participation in early childhood pre-school programmes increased from 65% in 2010 to 73% in 2019, with gender parity achieved in every region.

After 20 years of campaigning, the Australian Government finally abolished GST on tampons and sanitary pads in 2019, and in 2020, the Victorian Government announced free period products in all public schools in Victoria. These are both important steps in addressing period poverty and the gendered impacts of Australia’s tax and welfare system.

In March 2020 a new Women’s Safety Charter was announced, inspired by Plan International’s Safer Cities work. The Charter is designed to guide efforts by city-makers and government organisations to make Greater Sydney a safer place for girls and women.

From Brittany Higgins, to Grace Tame, we saw powerful voices against sexual abuse and assualt emerge in Australia between 2020 and 2022, leading to increased awareness and some reform.

The leadership and activism of young women such as Chanel Contos – who placed consent firmly on the national agenda with her Teach Us Consent campaign – led to Education Ministers around Australia agreeing to mandate age-appropriate consent and respectful relationships education from foundation to year 10 in all Australian schools.

Representation in Parliament is an indicator of progress on gender equality in Australia and following the May 2022 election we welcomed the most diverse Parliament, including a record number of women. We also saw the highest numbers of Parliamentarians from First Nations and Asian backgrounds elected but, there is still a way to go in our Parliament truly reflecting Australia’s multicultural society.

In July 2022, the NSW Government announced a $30 million investment into 10 pilot projects to co-design parts of the city with girls and women and address street harassment.

The last decade has seen significant, history shaping moments in Australia and around the world.

Girls, young women and gender diverse young people have been at the front of these changes, leading, speaking out and shaping the future.

To find out more, follow the link below to our report

Girl, Interrupted – 10 years of girls’ rights in Australia.


Selina was forced to leave school when she was just eight years old, due to relatives warning her parents that educated girls are more difficult to marry. But after participating in a community dialogue on the importance of education, facilitated by Plan International, Selina’s parents agreed to let her attend a local youth club, to continue her studies.

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overcoming barriers to education in Bangladesh

In September 2017 the world watched as hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fled their homes in Myanmar, the vast majority across the border into Bangladesh. As a result of this crisis, there are now approximately 919,000 stateless Rohingya refugees living in the Cox’s Bazar district of Bangladesh. The majority of these refugees now live in some of the largest and most densely populated refugee camps in the world.

The effect this has had on the population of Cox’s Bazar cannot be understated. There were already around 200,000 Rohingya refugees living in the Cox’s Bazar area before 2017. The strain that this has put on the local population, or host communities, has pushed already stretched services to the limit.

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17-year-old Selina lives in a host community on the outskirts of the Kutupalong Refugee camp, the largest of the Rohingya camps. She attended school up until the age of eight, where she loved to study Bangla and English, hearing poems and playing with her friends. But even at that early age she knew that her education would not continue much further.

“Our school was so beautiful. I felt so good to be there. However, I knew that my parents would stop my studies.” She explains. 

Many relatives and others within the community would tell Selina’s family that girls did not need an education. According to these relatives, if girls were educated it was harder for them to be married, as teachers would not allow them to be married early. And if they were to get a job after school, any money they earned would go to their new husbands, not to the parents. 

“My parents stopped my studies due to this malicious talk. I suffered so much from this; it can’t be expressed in words.

At that time, I thought it was wrong to be born a girl.

And when my friends used to go to school in front of me, it hurt me a lot.”

Selina was distraught, and found it very hard to watch her friends and old classmates heading to school every day. She tried to convince her parents to let her go back to school, but they refused. For the last nine years Selina has been helping with household chores such as washing clothes, dishes and helping with her two younger siblings.

Through the Australian Humanitarian Partnership (AHP), Plan International and its implementing partner, Friends in Village Development Bangladesh, have established 55 Community Based Youth Clubs (CBYCs) throughout the Rohingya refugee camps and host communities in Cox’s Bazar district. The clubs aim to provide adolescent girls and boys aged 15-24, like Selina, with access to inclusive and safe education pathways. 

An integral part of the program is inviting local leaders and parents to take part in community dialogues about the importance of education, and after participating in one of these dialogues Selina’s parents agreed to let Selina attend a local youth club, to continue her education. 

“I feel so good to come here to the Youth Club. I can study with my friends and can play with them in class breaks.

I am currently in level two and I love to study Bangla and English here as well.

When I studied previously, I could not read. I could not even recognize letters.

Now I can recognize letters and can read fluently.

I feel blessed to be here.”

The Bangladesh Consortium Multi Year program in Cox’s Bazar is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian Humanitarian Partnership. 


Saado, a young mother from Somaliland, is just one of an estimated 213,000 people facing severe and acute food insecurity in Somalia, a country on the brink of famine.

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Somalia

On the brink

“That’s why I came to the doctor, to save her life.” Saado, a young mother from Somaliland, sits on a bed in a malnutrition clinic in the country’s Toghdheer region, gently fanning her one-year-old daughter, Sagal Ali, who is lying on the bed next to her.

Somalia is on the brink of famine. Four failed rainy seasons and the subsequent drought, the worst seen in the Horn of Africa in decades, rising food prices and an underfunded humanitarian response have resulted in a 160% increase in the number of people facing catastrophic levels of food insecurity, starvation, and disease.

The crisis is having a devastating and terrifying impact on young children like Sagal Ali. Saado and her family rely heavily on their livestock, as a source of both nutrition and income.

“We have been suffering for a long time. It has now been nine months of malnutrition and depleted livestock. Some of our animals have died and some have become very weak. Because of a lack of milk from our animals and clean water our children have been falling ill with diseases, like diarrhoea and vomiting,” explains Saado.

It is hard to imagine, but the situation is only likely to get worse. Some forecasts are predicting a fifth failed rainy season approaching later this year. Communities that are already enduring the worst hunger they have experienced in their lifetimes could be pushed to the brink of starvation.

“The drought is just getting worse and worse. The lack of water is making our situation worse. It’s getting harder and harder. My daughter is still ill. It’s difficult for us, with no milk from our animals,” says Saado.

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The scale of the crisis is staggering. The latest reports from UNICEF indicate that by the end of the year 7.1 million Somalis could face extreme food insecurity and 1.5 million children under the age of five, or roughly 50% of Somali children, are at risk of becoming severely malnourished. Nearly 920,000 people have been forced to leave their homes in search of food and water.

The effects are already evident. Hamda Mohamed Nuur, a nurse at the malnutrition clinic where Sagal Ali is being treated, has seen an increase in the number of mothers arriving at the clinic in search of help for their severely malnourished children over the last six months.

“Our average admissions are way more in drought times than in usual times.

There is an increase in mothers and children who are being admitted to this clinic, day after day and month after month.

There are children who have died in our ward.”