Help Plan International Support Girls & Women

Susan notes: I have sponsored a young girl in Senegal for the last three years through Plan Canada. I thought this email, which I received just before International Women's Day (March 8, 2009), was worth sharing. Find more information about Plan International here.

Dear Plan Sponsor,
One of the real joys of my work is that I get to meet so many smart, energetic, talented women from around the world.

Many of them are mothers, like me, so it’s usually very easy to find topics of conversation that we can relate to: the constant juggling act of running a household, getting the right balance between sheltering children from harm and nurturing independence, and trying to be a role model and instill strong values, recognizing that our children are growing up in a very different world than we did.
Many of these women are from some of the poorest region’s in the world. What always humbles me is how much they’re able to achieve for their children when they often face tremendous barriers to accessing the basic economic and social rights that we take for granted.

While we still have a way to go in Canada when it comes to breaking through glass ceilings and narrowing income gaps between men and women, the global statistics paint a sobering picture of the reality faced by many of the world’s women and girls:

  • Nearly 70 per cent of the 1.5 billion people living on $1 a day or less are female.
  • Over 60 million girls of primary school age in the developing world are not in school
  • Girls are three times more likely to be malnourished than boys, because families often feed boys first.
  • Each year, roughly two million girls between the ages of 5 and 15 are trafficked, sold or coerced into the sex trade.
  • Globally, two-thirds of all new HIV infections among youth are in girls.
As International Women’s Day approaches this Sunday, it is fitting to reflect on the enormous challenges faced by girls and women around the world. It’s also a good time to help spread the word about what we can do (and are doing) to change this picture.

The single factor that makes the most difference for women in any society is education, and nowhere is that more true than in the developing world. It has been proven again and again that educating girls is key to breaking the cycle of poverty - and not just for them, but for their families, communities, and nations.

No country has yet emerged from poverty without investing in education for all children, and there is clear evidence that investing in girls and their mothers improves every other indicator of well-being, including infant mortality, child health, education rates, and national GDP.

For every year a girl remains in school, her future income will rise by 15%. An educated girl will go on to marry later and have fewer, stronger children. She will know enough about nutrition, sanitation and common childhood diseases to keep her family healthy, and she will have a better chance of staying healthy, herself. She will teach her children what she knows, and she will send them to school, equipping them to improve their lives and the lives of their families.

A small investment in a girl’s education has a huge payoff for the world. By supporting Plan, you are already assisting with this work. You may have bought a Gift of Hope for girls or women, or you may be supporting our Girl projects. If you are like most of our donors, you are a sponsor, and the regular donation you make helps strengthen your sponsored child’s entire community, and that means ensuring equal access to education for all the boys and girls who live there.

You can do even more by helping spread the word about what we can do to make a better world for women and girls, and what they can do to make a better world for all of us.

Enjoy this International Women’s Day with the remarkable women in your own life.

Rosemary McCarney,
Plan Canada