In 2011 the United Nations (UN) designated Oct. 11 as a day to raise awareness on the plight of girls around the world and strengthen global efforts to achieve equality for females of all ages. The UN resolution establishing International Day of the Girl Child states: "Empowerment and investment in girls are key in breaking the cycle of discrimination and violence and in promoting and protecting the full and effective enjoyment of their human rights.” Or, more simply put, the global community should support girls’ progress everywhere, and just "let girls be girls."
School girls from an ex-grantee community project in the highlands of Peru
So what is the status of girls in Latin American and the Caribbean in 2016? The good news is current projections estimate that by 2025, today’s girls will hold nearly half of all professional and managerial roles, surpassing the United States and Canada. The bad news is that Latin America has the world’s highest female murder rate with a disturbing trend developing of women activists being targeted. If today’s girls are ever going to achieve parity in the workforce, behaviors and attitudes on equality must change.
At the IAF we work with our grantee partners to provide opportunities for women to take on leadership roles within their organizations and ensure that females receive an equal share of project benefits. In FY 2015, approximately 53 percent of IAF-grant beneficiaries were women or girls. In FY 2016 the IAF continued its efforts to improve gender equality with the addition of new partnerships:
The Instituto de Formación Femenina Integral (IFFI), in Bolivia, is building the leadership and, organizational and advocacy capacity of the Plataforma de Mujeres por la Ciudadanía y la Equidad of Cochabamba (PMCE), a network of 100 women’s organizations located in the Greater Metropolitan Area of Cochabamba, in order to promote women’s rights and set PMCE on a path towards institutional autonomy. Approximately 1,780 women benefit directly and 111,350 people will benefit indirectly.
Fundación Chorotega (FUNDACHOR), in Honduras, works with five groups of predominately female shrimp producers to increase their incomes by offering training, technical assistance, materials, and exchanges, and assessing the creation of a shrimp producers’ association. The grant will benefit 140 producers directly and another 500 individuals indirectly in Namasigue, in the department of Choluteca.
Fundación Plurales (Plurales), a regional initiative strengthening the Colectivo de Mujeres del Chaco Americano (Colectivo), an umbrella organization representing more than 100 women’s grassroots groups in the Gran Chaco Americano. Members of the Colectivo receive training in administrative skills and management, as well as on topics related to advocacy and gender violence. Plurales and Colectivo will provide small grants for selected grassroots organizations, empowering these to address community issues and experience project management. The project benefit at least 1,500 people directly and 25,000 more indirectly.
As a final note, there is no International Day of the Boy Child, although it should exist. Boys have many advantages over girls but they still face their own struggles. For example, in Central America boys are being forced to join gangs or leave their communities. As a result, the IAF is working with grantee partners to form a network of youth in Central America so that they can create programs of support for their communities and countries. This is just one of the many examples of the IAF’s inclusive development approach in action.