The Summit Foundation’s Empowering Girls Program features grantmaking that focuses on achieving girls’ equality within Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and Quintana Roo. We continue to maintain four themes within our grantmaking, building on our previous program emphasis on adolescent sexual and reproductive health (ASRH) access and supporting youth leadership for ASRH. The four themes are: (1) Advancing Girls’ Equality; (2) Expanding ASRH Access; (3) Supporting Youth Leadership for Girls’ Equality and ASRH; and (4) Accelerating Global Momentum for Girls’ Equality and ASRH. Within Advancing Girls’ Equality, projects could encompass both ASRH and one or more of: (1) Promoting and enabling girls’ secondary education and economic opportunity; (2) Ending child marriage/early unions; and (3) Engaging communities, including men and boys, to transform gender norms. Below are brief descriptions of a few of the projects and organizations we have supported recently:
Advancing Girls’ Equality
Summit supports the work of Population Services International (PSI) and its local affiliate, PASMO/Honduras, as it pilots girl-focused activities reaching 640 girls aged 10-19 in 11 communities in the rural Valle de Sula area of Honduras. Launched in 2014, the Chicas en Conexión program aims to increase empowerment and gender equity by expanding educational opportunities where few exist beyond 6th grade, providing safe meeting spaces, and training girls and female leaders in decision-making skills, as well as increasing access and use of ASRH services among adolescent girls. PASMO/Honduras utilizes a socio-ecological model which targets girls but also involves their families (especially boys and men), schools, community organizations, and policy makers.
Based in Guatemela’s primarily indigenous and rural Sololá Department, which has extremely poor health indicators and high rates of poverty and where only about 5% of Mayan girls complete secondary school, Starfish aims to reach 500 indigenous girls from Sololá over 20 years and to vastly transform their educational and life prospects. Since 2008, Starfish has operated a successful wraparound program for girls in secondary school which uses of partial academic scholarships, positive peer support and supplemental life skills and academic support to enable participants to stay in school and develop a clear idea of their skills, talents and interests. With Summit’s support, Starfish launched the BRIDGE Program in 2012 to ensure that as empowered graduates of high school, young women have the knowledge, life skills, and network to effectively and fully apply their talents and skills in the work force. In 2014, 98% of Starfish’s seniors graduated from secondary school, and in 2015, almost 75% of graduates continued their schooling beyond the secondary level, through university study or vocational training.
Launched by Promundo in 2011, MenCare is a global campaign to promote men’s involvement as equitable, responsive and non-violent fathers and caregivers. It provides mass media messages, technical assistance and training, policy and program recommendations and evidence to support local NGOs, governments and UN partners to engage men and boys in caregiving. Support from the Summit Foundation has enabled Promundo to work with REDMAS (the Network of Masculinities, coordinated by Puntos de Encuentro) to adapt the campaign for implementation by local partners in Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala, including developing a training module for health and education professionals; developing and disseminating mass media messages; and training local NGO partners in Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua in implementing the campaign. Summit’s most recent support targets two Promundo local partners – Puntos de Encuentro in Nicaragua and ECPAT in Guatemala – to train health providers and volunteers on how to implement the gender-transformative manual “Program P” in the health clinic setting to engage men in maternal and SRH and provide group education for expectant parents in gender equitable spaces.
The Population Council launched Abriendo Oportunidades (AO) in 2004, an initiative that connects and empowers Mayan girls in Guatemala. By training girl leaders to mentor and build the skills of their peers, Abriendo uses a participatory girl-driven approach to support and equip Mayan girls to stay in school, avoid child marriage, adolescent pregnancy and gender violence, and develop employment and life skills. Summit provided about $400,000 in support over six years to solidify the content and reach of the AO model. With over 10,000 girls and young women reached in over 60 rural communities, Abriendo’s four core components are: establishing safe spaces for girls to meet and learn regularly at a community level, developing a cadre of indigenous girl leaders/mentors/role models in rural communities across Guatemala, providing internships and skill building to foster workforce development in young indigenous women, and connecting clubs and graduates through a national rural girls’ empowerment network. The Inter-American Development Bank currently is supporting a full evaluation of AO’s results at the level of the girl to demonstrate its successes for scale up in Guatemala and adaptation to other countries. With support from Summit, Population Council began seeking out local partners to expand its girl-centered programming to Belize, targeting the rural Toledo District which has extremely problematic girl indicators and is the most under-served Belizean district. Leveraged support from the NoVo Foundation enabled the Guatemalan side of this violent and impoverished border area to be reached with similar programming.
Expanding Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Access
Summit supports the work of International Planned Parenthood Federation/ Western Hemisphere Region (IPPF/WHR) as its member associations aim to decrease the incidence of teenage pregnancy and STIs among adolescents between the ages of 10-24 in Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras through increased access to sexual and reproductive health services and education. The objectives are: 1) Increase youth-friendly SRH services in select regions in Belize, Guatemala and Honduras by fostering youth participation and strengthening links between comprehensive sex education and service provision; 2) Expand the scope and quality of clinical youth-friendly services; and 3) Increase the political will of key decision-makers in government to take action. The three member associations supported through Summit’s grant to IPPF/WHR since 2011 are: Belize Family Life Association (BFLA) in Belize, Asociación Pro-bienestar de la Familia (APROFAM) in Guatemala, and Asociación Hondureña de Planificación de Familia (ASHONPLAFA) in Honduras.
WINGS (Women’s International Network for Guatemalan Solutions) is a Guatemala-based NGO which works to create opportunities for Guatemalan families to improve their lives by providing them with family planning education and access to reproductive health services. Summit’s support began in 2010 and has focused on WINGS’ activities to reach young people, particularly girls, in the underserved northern Guatemalan department of Alta Verapaz. With support from Summit and other donors in 2015, WINGS began developing a network of youth leaders to reach marginalized, not-in-school peers through community-based activities. In its first year, the project marked a 233% increase in not-in-school youth between ages 14 and 19 using contraception. In 2016, WINGS is working to expand its youth leaders training beyond Alta Verapaz, from five to 15 municipalities in four Guatemalan departments. Trained youth leaders provide basic sexual information to not-in-school girls and young women and men in their communities and offer referrals to WINGS’ local family planning promoters, mobile clinics, and two youth-friendly spaces in Antigua and Cobán.
Supporting Youth Leadership
Summit’s largest investment is GOJoven, a youth leadership program implemented by the Public Health Institute and aimed at supporting the development of young leaders to act as catalysts for social change, particularly for improving ASRH in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and Quintana Roo, Mexico. Read more about GOJoven on our GOJoven page and on the GOJoven website. Summit commissioned a comprehensive external evaluation of GOJoven’s implementation from 2004-2011, which was completed in September 2012.
Summit supports the Central America & Mexico Youth Fund (CAMY Fund), which provides grant support to local young adult leaders (aged 18-35) and their organizations in Central America to implement innovative projects related to girls’ equality and adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). Launched in 2014 and administered by the Seattle International Foundation (SIF), the CAMY Fund supports projects in Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Quintana Roo, Mexico. CAMY Fund grants currently range from $10,000 to $35,000. Examples of recent grantees and youth-led projects include: GOBelize in Belize, for a comprehensive sexuality education advocacy project and media campaign targeted at teachers; COINCIDIR in Guatemala, to increase the enrollment, permanence and success of 150 girls in secondary school in the municipality of San Luis Jilotepeque, Jalapa; and Organization for Youth Empowerment in Honduras, for SRH and rights education and training for 150 youth from two marginalized urban communities.
Accelerating Global Momentum for Girls’ Equality and Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health
Summit supports the International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC) to build the capacity of 15 young adult advocates from around the world to conduct advocacy on adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights (ASRHR) at the regional and national policy levels in relation to the 50th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW 50) in March of 2016. IWHC’s Advocacy in Practice training and mentorship program aims to deepen participants’ knowledge of ASRHR policy, strengthen their advocacy skills, and facilitate their participation in these global negotiations to secure commitments for adolescent sexual and reproductive rights and health. A select group of four participants, including two from Latin America with Summit support, will receive grants and technical support to undertake follow-up national level advocacy in their countries. Several alumni of the Summit-supported GOJoven youth leadership program have participated in IWHC’s advocacy trainings, boosting representation from Central America which has tended to have fewer civil society advocates in key international and regional fora.