The Summit Foundation, in partnership with other stakeholders, seeks to empower marginalized girls by transforming their social, reproductive and economic lives.
The major portion of our funding is focused in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and Quintana Roo, Mexico, which mirror the countries of our Conserving the Mesoamerican Reef program. These countries have large populations of marginalized girls, and a dearth of resources to advance needed policies and programs that will enhance girls’ equality and adolescent sexual and reproductive health (ASRH). We also support a small number of organizations focused on expanding international, Latin American and U.S. commitments to empowering girls and ASRH, including an emphasis on youth participation in global processes.
We are motivated to focus on girls both because it is right and by the evidence: economies will grow, poverty rates will decline, health indicators of women and children will improve and the environment will benefit. In addition to the poverty, constrained economic opportunities, violence and lack of SRH services that face both boys and girls in Central America, too many girls confront additional cultural, structural and policy barriers that impede educational and livelihood opportunities, lead to child marriage/early unions and adolescent pregnancies, and trigger gender-based and sexual violence and other adverse health outcomes, like maternal death.
For Summit, empowering girls will demand continued focus on ASRH and supporting youth leadership, but with greater attention to gender equality. Our objectives and key actions are closely aligned with the emphasis of UNFPA’s State of the World Population 2013 (SWOP), which is entitled, “Motherhood in Childhood: Facing the Challenge of Adolescent Pregnancy.” The report emphasizes the need to address the underlying determinants and drivers of high adolescent pregnancy rates, all of which are relevant in Central America, particularly its rural areas. These include: gender inequality, poverty, sexual violence and coercion, child marriage/early unions, girls’ exclusion from educational and job opportunities, negative attitudes and stereotypes about adolescent girls/women, and failing to take into account the role of boys and men.
From among the following best practices integral to healthy adolescent development, The Summit Foundation's grantmaking priorities place particular emphasis on those marked with a “*”. Research indicates that programs developed with careful consideration given to the mix of strategies will have the most powerful impact on girls’ equality and adolescent sexual and reproductive health.