In this growing, rapidly expanding world, grassroots change is happening fast and its most powerful catalysts are the committed young people who adapt quickly and adopt fully.
This is why, on October 11, the world will celebrate the collective power of the 900 million adolescent girls in the world for International Day of the Girl Child. Each year, a unique theme is chosen to highlight a dimension of female empowerment and this year’s theme is“ GirlForce: Unscripted and Unstoppable ” and marks the continuation of the theme started last year to bring together partners and stakeholders who equip girls with the power, knowledge and space to continue to voice their passions and concerns. The global community must create more opportunities for girls’ voices to be heard and safe spaces for their participation in decision-making, as leading change for girls is the responsibility of us all.
When young girls are empowered with concrete knowledge, when they aren’t forced to marry, when they are able to achieve their full potential, they create a ripple effect that lasts a lifetime. Empowered girls become empowered women in the workforce who fully leverage their income-generation to improve maternal health, reduce child mortality rates and eradicate malnutrition for entire communities.
According to the United Nations, of the 1 billion young people that will enter the workforce in the next decade, “more than 90% of those living in developing countries will work in the informal sector, where low or no pay, abuse and exploitation are common.” The best tool to lift girls out of cycles of exploitation is access to education .
The Day of the Girl Summit , held at UN every year, aims to bring together international and domestic organizations that serve girls to further the advancement of their human rights. In a global ‘takeover,’ girls get the chance to take over key roles in business, politics and sport for the day and stories are shared on social media with the hashtags #girlstakeover #dayofthegirl and #girlhero!
What We Do
- Girls Advocating for their Education: Child marriage is never right. It is a lost opportunity, and it locks girls into an endless cycle of poverty. This is why in 2017 The Hunger Project-India launched a creative initiative to empower adolescent girls to learn from one another and take a stand against child marriage. To kick off this initiative, called #GirlsChangeTracks , a group of 25 young visionary women traveled more than 3,000 km by train from India’s state of Bihar to the state of Rajasthan – joined by local partners, animators, staff and a film crew – on an exciting journey to promote the empowerment of young women and girls. The girls from Bihar are part of Hunger Project programs focused on adolescent girls, including the Adolescent Girls (AG) Program that equip youth with life skills training, encourage engagement with governance systems, and raise awareness about their rights and the importance of active citizenship in local village councils known as Panchayats. On this transformative journey, documented over the course of five unique short films, the girls engaged in conversations and learning activities with young women and girls from Rajasthan. Overall, 500 girls participated in Girls Leadership Workshops last year in Bihar. Watch the first video on youtube about #GirlsChangeTracks 2017! #GirlsChangeTracks the project was completed with support from The Hunger Project Sweden and a global alliance of organizations and initiatives working to improve and strengthen young girls’ position in society called Flickaplattformen (Girl Child Platform), along with AJWS and UNFPA.
- Organize and sponsor programs to end child marriage: In 2015, The Hunger Project launched Her Choice , a global coalition that includes The Hunger Project and Netherlands-based organizations Stichting Kinderpostzegels Nederland, International Child Development Initiatives (ICDI), the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the University of Amsterdam. Her Choice works to activate local leadership to create an environment in which child marriage is not tolerated. In 2018, Her Choice coordinators from six countries (Bangladesh, Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, the Netherlands and Uganda) joined 500 girls-rights activists from more than 70 countries worldwide for the biggest meeting ever on ending child marriage. After this global three-day event, we leveraged this opportunity to organize a two-day Hunger Project Her Choice workshop to discuss what was working and what was not. Watch the uplifting Girls Not Brides anthem video , and check out this Her Choice 2019 update courtesy of THP-Netherlands and this story on the Her Choice website.
- Advocating for Safe Spaces for Girls in Uganda: During the implementation of the Her Choice campaign, THP-Uganda realized the subject of menstruation in most of our epicenter communities is viewed as a taboo, and has many negative cultural attitudes associated with it. Through peer learning sessions, menstruation was identified as a leading cause of high school dropout among girls and a key driver of child marriage. In this context, on August 11-12, 2018 THP-Uganda joined Girls Not Brides Alliance Uganda and Raising Teenagers Uganda to hike Wanale Mountain in Mbale District as part of commemorating International Youth Day. Read the full report here.
- Advocate for the end of child marriage locally: In Bangladesh, as part of the National Girl Child Advocacy Forum, The Hunger Project recently joined various government officials and NGOs to advocate for a comprehensive sexual harassment prevention law. This took place at an exchange meeting organized by the Parliamentary Caucus and Kanyashisu Advocacy Forum for Child Rights at the Parliament House on November 20. See photos and report here.
- Promote girls’ safety in schools: In Bangladesh, we have also implemented the “ Safe Schools for Girls ” program. The program, which runs in partnership with USAID-funded organization International Television Service, seeks to increase girls’ attendance in school, reduce dropout rates, improve the quality of education available to girls and promote additional opportunities for girls in and out of school. Watch the inspiring story of one young girl named Lilabati who took agency over her own life and insisting on a comprehensive education.
- Measure and analyze gender-specific data: Our women-centered approach emphasizes the importance of gender-specific monitoring and evaluation, including by:
- Collecting sex-disaggregated data in areas such as child health monitoring, attendance in school, financial inclusion and child marriage;
- Implementing The Hunger Project’s Women’s Empowerment Index , which measures women’s empowerment in five key domains;
- Creating our Maternal Health Dashboard , which has provided easy access to reliable and vital data on women and child health.
- Developing new tools to measure the empowerment of elected women leaders in India.