President & CEO, Plan International Canada
Maria Paula Ballesteros Duarte
Economic Empowerment Advisor, Plan International Canada
The pandemic is impacting everyone, but girls and women are bearing the brunt of the burden. Plan International Canada is mobilizing to address the crisis.
Economic empowerment for girls and women across the globe begins with education — from elementary-level schooling to financial literacy and entrepreneurship training. In impoverished communities, the work of organizations like Plan International Canada — which targets barriers to education for children, especially girls, and runs economic empowerment programs — is critical, especially during a global crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic has pushed nearly 743 million girls out of school, and 11 million may never return. Plan International Canada is working at multiple levels to Stop the Setback to girls’ and women’s rights. “We’re supporting virtual learning in 50 countries, partnering with parents and health care providers to make sure girls have the support they need, and working with governments to ensure girls’ education is prioritized in COVID-19 response,” says Lindsay Glassco, President and CEO of Plan International Canada. “We do this for the benefit of girls today but let’s not forget that they’re our women leaders of tomorrow — leaders within their homes, workplaces, communities, and countries. We can’t let COVID-19 threaten their futures.”
Economic empowerment is key to stopping the setback
In one economic empowerment program, Plan International facilitates educational workshops for children and youth of primary and secondary school age throughout Peru, starting as young as six years old. The Scotiabank-sponsored program teaches life skills such as financial literacy, budgeting, and entrepreneurship to ensure children have a strong foundation of financial education to seize opportunities and build successful futures — for themselves, their families, and their communities.
“Our economic empowerment programs aren’t just about access to income,” says Maria Paula Ballesteros Duarte, Economic Empowerment Advisor at Plan International Canada. “They’re about critical thinking, leadership, the power to make decisions, and teaching girls and young women that their voice matters.”