In this SDG Awards 2017 entry:
Voting Category: Large Organization
Plan International Canada has just launched its new five-year strategic plan with a goal of igniting a movement in Canada to unleash the multiplying power of girls to end inequality for children. Through the programs, advocacy and fundraising initiatives of Plan Canada we will reach 20 million children, especially girls, to support them to learn, lead, decide and thrive and inspire millions of Canadians to take action. The strategic plan, known as “20 Million Reasons”, embodies an organizational commitment to the achievement of SDG 5. The plan and its objectives place a sharper focus on the integrated and comprehensive needs and rights of adolescent girls and young women- a group that faces even greater discrimination due to their age and gender. Plan Canada understands that make sustainable change, in the area of gender equality in the 50 overseas countries where we operate, we need to adopt a “gender transformative” approach to our work. The gender transformative approach addresses unequal gender power relations, root causes, promotes the value of women and girls and seeks to improve their social position. We take action with women’s organisations and girl-run movements, local civil society organisations and Government partners, to achieve lasting impact by changing norms, behaviours and attitudes that perpetuate gender inequality, building social and economic resources and assets for the empowerment of women and girls, and addressing policy frameworks and structural barriers to gender equality and poverty reduction.
The strategic plan’s execution roadmap enables each staff member across Canada to align their day to day to achieve our “20 Million Reasons” while deepening our work to be more gender transformative. Almost 50% of Plan Canada’s programming portfolio address issues related to SDG3, health and well being, addressing major diseases such as malaria, HIV and TB, as well as Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (ASRHR). For instance, our gender transformative MNCH and ASRHR programming adopts a three pronged approach to: 1) foster agency of women and girls through leadership in local health governance committees, 2) engage men and boys as partners of change (fathers clubs, adolescent boys clubs, mobilizing male champions, peer to peer models to construct new masculinities) and 3) support Ministries of Health to develop gender responsive and adolescent friendly MNCH/ARSHR services to institutionalize change. Our strategic plan has established KPIs to further raise the bar in ensuring gender transformative health, ARSHR and diseases specific programming in both development and humanitarian context, making important contributions to SDG3 and 5.
Finally, Plan Canada will take action to pilot a comprehensive approach to addressing the SDG5 for adolescent girls in two African countries. This innovative programme will support decentralized governments to roll out a comprehensive, evidence based set of interventions that recognize adolescent girls’ rights in a holistic manner, while addressing the often inter-connected root causes of gender discrimination. The project will provide a model to leverage finite resources, build strategic partnerships and maximize investments to achieve the SDGs as well as stretch domestic and development dollars for girls’ empowerment.
Plan International Canada SDG 5, and SDG3 initiatives- supported with funding from Global Affairs Canada and individual Canadian donations – have prevented or delayed child marriages, improved health outcomes for women and infants, and furthered gender equality. For example, the Women and Their Children’s Health (WATCH) project that spanned Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Mali, Ghana and Zimbabwe supported 565,715 women, resulted in :
- 78% of all women stated that their male partners were very supportive in the pregnancy, and post- delivery ;
- an increase in Ante Natal Care visits in WATCH project areas from 45% to 63%;
- an increase in mothers and babies receiving Post Natal Care within 3 days of delivery from 38.7% to 54.4% in WATCH project areas.
Plan International Canada’s MNCH and SRHR projects in Mozambique, Tanzania, Nigeria, Senegal, Haiti, Bangladesh, Ghana and Malawi use a gender transformative, evidence based approach and aim to reach a total of 6,7 million men, women, girls, and boys.
To further SDG5, Plan International Canada is addressing child, early and forced marriage. In Bangladesh alone, some 52% of girls are married by their 18th birthday and 18% by their 15th birthday. Plan Canada and Plan Bangladesh supported girls and boys to prevent child marriage in their communities using a peer to peer youth led the effort known as “Wedding Busters”. This approach, combined with access to essential Adolescent Reproductive Health Services, empowerment, and building of girls’ own agency, has seen excellent results in preventing child marriage or delaying the age of marriage in areas supported by Plan programs. Plan’s I’MPOWER project in selected high prevalence areas of Bangladesh and Zimbabwe used a multi-level approach in child marriage prevention and response, engaged girls at greatest risk to become agents of change, and strengthened the legal and institutional framework. Traditional leaders in Zimbabwe passed decrees to create child marriage free zones, while in Bangladesh marriage registrars have been trained to combat child marriage. Plan Canada is supporting 465,985 people through its child marriage programs.
In order to effect change, Plan International Canada is engaging Canadians on issues of child marriage, maternal and child health as well as sexual and reproductive rights of adolescent girls and women through its “Give Child Marriage the Finger” and the “Change the Birth Story” public engagement campaigns. By engaging Canadians in the movement for gender equality and girls rights, we will see an even greater impact in terms of engagement, support, and advocacy to achieve SDG3 and SDG5. Improving gender equality is impossible unless women and girls are able to represent themselves in all realms of society. This is why on October 11th, 2016, Plan celebrated International Day of the Girl both domestically and abroad through the #GirlsBelongHere event, which connected girls to political and corporate leaders. Over 250 girls were invited to lead for the day, attending meetings and providing input to members of parliament, senators, and CEOs, thus building upon target 5.5-ensuring women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making.
Plan International Canada believes that there are 20 million reasons to strive for a just world that advances children’s rights and equality for girls. Unlocking the potential of women and girls is crucial to catalyze development in the 80,000+ communities Plan International works with globally. Plan’s longstanding focus on achieving gender equality for women and girls began to take more organisational priority in 2007 when the first ‘Because I am a Girl’ report was published that highlighted gendered barriers that girls face in developing countries. Since then, the Because I am a Girl Movement has developed into a framework so that women and girls can learn, lead, decide and thrive. Plan’s 5 year “20 Million Reasons” Strategy follows the movement and recognizes that girls are both uniquely disadvantaged because they are young and female, but also uniquely able to help break the cycle of poverty, setting a target to reach 20 million girls through its programming.
The four learn, lead, decide and thrive guidelines inform projects that Plan Canada implements in more than 50 countries, that closely align to SDG 5. Learn strives to give girls the right to quality, safe and formal education and access to lifelong learning, as educated girls are more likely to marry later and have fewer yet healthier children. Lead recognizes that all girls and young women have the right to meaningfully participate in key decision-making processes that affect them; which is why Plan supports and empowers young female leaders in the political, economic and social spaces critical to the transformation of power relations that prevent these decisions. Decide maintains that all girls also have a right to make important decisions about their sexual health and well-being, including the decision to marry and start a family. Thrive holds that when girls do reach their full potential, they should have equal economic opportunities and live free from violence. In order to achieve the ambitious goal of reaching 20 million girls through the Because I am a Girl framework, Plan recognizes that if you can’t measure something, you can’t improve it. This is why Plan published the ‘Counting the Invisible’ report in 2016 that explores the state of gender data and exposes gaps in measuring progress towards SDG 5.The report poses a Call to Action, asking those who publish data to accelerate efforts to fuel a gender data revolution, invest in and strengthen national statistical capacities, embrace different types and sources of data collection and analysis, and to use data and evidence to drive action and build a movement. Plan is also a founding member of Equal Measures 2030, an initiative that is currently working towards creating a data tracking tool to monitor SDG targets and indicators set by the UNDP and the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators. This data tracking tool covers 13 out of the 17 SDGs, with a specific focus on SDG 5. In using complementary indicators from other data sources such as citizen-generated data, data from NGOs, development agencies, and the private sector, Equal Measures 2030 will provide critical analysis and unique perspectives, highlighting progress and gaps within SDG 5.
Plan International Canada recently completed Global Affairs Canada’s largest pilot Public Private Partnership CSR project in collaboration the mining company IAMGOLD. This 6 year project in Burkina Faso addressing SDG8 exceeded its goals by training young men and women in technical and vocational training and employability, transforming curriculum to be more learning centered and gender sensitive, and establishing a Burkinabe local CSR Network that nurtures partnerships between private, NGO and public sectors, while improving CSR practice. Both Plan Canada and IAMGOLD have committed to renenwing this partnership by placing a greater focus on youth employment in the green growth sector, especially for adolescent girls, in Burkina Faso.
Plan Canada is also involved in a public private partnership with other INGOs, Global Affairs Canada and Johnson and Johnson in Bangladesh to SDG3, and in particular to address pre-mature birth, known as the “Born on Time” project. Other parnterships are being nurtured in the area of clean energy with Canadian based companies.
Supplementary Media & Documents
- Equal Measures Brochure (pdf)
- MNCH Brochure (pdf)
- Because I am a Girl- I’ll take it from here (video)
- How the world came together to say #GirlsBelongHere and champion girls’ empowerment (video)
- Counting the Invisible: How better gender data can transform the lives of girls (video)
- Together, we can #endchildmarriage (video)