In 2011, Summit began shifting its grantmaking to a more holistic focus on girls’ equality within our four focus countries, expanding on our previous emphasis on access to adolescent sexual and reproductive health (ASRH) services and information and supporting youth leadership to further ASRH. Empowering Girls for Summit encompasses investing in local policy improvements and projects that take an integrated and holistic approach to building girls’ social, health and economic assets. In addition to addressing ASRH, projects could encompass one or more of:
- Promoting and enabling girls’ secondary education and economic opportunity,
- Ending child marriage/early unions, and
- Engaging communities, including men and boys, to transform gender norms.
Our grantmaking approach includes support for: (i) innovative projects to solidify best practices; (ii) targeted advocacy to align the public policy agenda; (iii) young leaders to drive innovation and advocacy; and (iv) robust monitoring, learning and evaluation to build evidence and best practices.
We want to see measurable improvements in girls’ well-being in our focus countries over time. In late 2013, our Board endorsed the objectives and key actions described below, also adding indicators and targets we will reference and track. Aligning efforts with movement in these indicators is consistent with global target-setting such as the Girl Effect’s October 2013 Girl Declaration (created by the Nike Foundation and 25 leading NGOs) and the Sustainable Development Goals, which include goals and targets on improving the well-being of women and girls. The Girl Declaration derives its ambitious targets from the perspectives gathered from 508 girls living in poverty in 14 countries. It includes targets on completion of secondary school for all girls, including the most marginalized, eliminating child marriage and reducing pregnancy before age 18 by 50%, all by 2030.
Alongside our grantees, we will disseminate positive results and help convene stakeholders to advocate for policy change and scale up of successful approaches and projects. We see the opportunity to generate and leverage results and recognize that with fewer donors in Central America, our investments are important. Girls’ health and rights hang in the balance and failure to make progress implicates social justice, poverty and population growth rates, the region’s environmental health, and adaptation to climate change.
We have honed in on three indicators relevant to empowering girls to track in our focus countries. In Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and Quintana Roo, Summit will monitor movement towards the following national-level targets by 2020:
- Increase the percentage of women who complete secondary school by 20%;
- Decrease the percentage of girls married or in union before age 18 by 25%; and
- Decrease the adolescent fertility rate among girls aged 15-19 by 20%.
The target decreases in adolescent fertility rates and child marriage and the target increase in secondary school completion represent numbers that are ambitious, aligned with international targets to some extent and that take into account the difficult national contexts in the Mesoamerican countries. While these national-level indicators have many shortcomings and do not capture the significant inequities that often exist in certain areas or among certain sub-population groups, if we can reach our targets within ten years, we view that as a proxy for more empowered girls. If they are not reached or exceeded, then we need to look critically with other stakeholders at why this is so.