Equality for Women and Girls

In line with UN Sustainable Development Goal 5, our vision is that girls and women achieve equality and empowerment, are valued by their families and communities, and have viable pathways to quality education, health, employment and full participation in civic and political life.

Where: Summit’s Equality for Women and Girls (EWG) Program’s current grantmaking is focused primarily on Central America, with the majority of support going to Guatemala and Honduras, followed by Belize and Nicaragua.

The EWG Program also supports several initiatives that advance momentum for gender equality and sexual and reproductive health, rights and justice in Latin America and globally. This year (2021), we are beginning a modest US portfolio focused on young BIPOC-led and -focused efforts for gender equality.

Who: There are more than 5 million young women and girls aged 10 to 24 in our Central American focus countries. Summit grantee partners implement various strategies and programs to reach them, change policies affecting them and empower them as leaders. As poor SDG 5 indicators tell us, this group of girls and women, particularly those from disadvantaged racial and ethnic groups and from rural and economically marginalized areas, experiences profound gender inequities. Roughly 85% of rural girls in Guatemala and Honduras do not finish secondary school. Tens of thousands just in those two countries become mothers before age 19 each year and more than 100,000 are forced or compelled by poverty and gender norms to enter an early union before turning 18, also each year.

Why:  Gender equality in Central America lags behind most other countries in Latin America due to poverty, violence against women, longstanding underinvestment in education and health, as well as political conservatism, corruption and impunity. Aside from the fact that their achievement of gender equality is a human right, improving the well-being of women and girls can contribute to the achievement of other social justice, economic and environmental goals. Numerous studies have shown that as gender equality increases, poverty rates decline, economies grow and the environment benefits. However, women and girls everywhere continue to be constrained by socio-cultural, structural and policy barriers that impede their rights.

For adolescent girls in Central America, these constraints too often lead to elevated school drop-out, higher rates of adolescent pregnancy and increased child, early, forced marriage and unions. For women, these barriers can lead to an increased risk of having an unintended pregnancy, limit livelihood opportunities and increase financial dependency on a partner. Women and girls are at an increased risk for gender-based violence, maternal mortality and poor health outcomes for themselves and their infant children.

How: Summit prioritizes putting our resources in the hands of community-based and youth-led or serving organizations in our priority countries to address these complex issues of gender inequality. Some of our grantees are locally-founded and based. Based on a continuing need for organizational development and technical assistance responsive to local priorities, the EWG Program works with some intermediary funders to provide such non-financial supports as well as funding for general operations and for specific initiatives. Sometimes the EWG Program also supports international NGOs and broader initiatives to advance gender equality and address adolescent sexual and reproductive health, rights and justice, whether locally, regionally or globally.

We endeavor to support our grantee partners to define success, to aim high, and to assess and share what works and what does not, in aid of course corrections, and to further public policy change and scale up based on their models.

Photo above and left: © Kate Lord Photography

3 youths on the floor listening

Summit’s Equality for Women and Girls Program is pleased to share its November 2019 report Unlocking Possibilities for Girls. The report describes much of our partners’ work from 2012 to the present, primarily in Mesoamerica.

The Youth Investment, Engagement, and Leadership Development (YIELD) Project report, Young People Advancing Sexual and Reproductive Health: Toward a New Normal, finds that making this happen will require young people’s participation and leadership at every level in youth sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) initiatives—from ideation to implementation…. Read More »

In 2004, the Public Health Institute (PHI), launched an experiment alongside local partners in Mesoamerica: a novel program focused on youth leadership to expand sexual and reproductive health and rights. Known as GOJoven, its mission is to develop and support young leaders and their organizations to advance health, particularly sexual and reproductive health, education, sustainable development and civic participation. PHI and local collaborators implemented GOJoven in four countries: Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and Quintana Roo, Mexico, training over 400 young leaders through 2019…. Read More »

The Central America and Mexico Youth Fund (CAMY Fund) is a multi-donor initiative that supports projects in Central America and Mexico that are led by youth, for the benefit of youth in Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Nicaragua. Launched in 2014 by the Seattle International Foundation with support from Summit, the CAMY Fund is guided by a vision of a world where diverse youth are able to fully exercise their human rights and live in just, peaceful, prosperous, and joyful communities…. Read More »

Recent Grants

Our Equality for Women and Girls Program features grantmaking that focuses on achieving women and girls’ equality within Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and Quintana Roo. Here are a few of the projects and organizations we have supported recently.