Enhancing Agency by Building a Better Future for Girls
Last week on 11 October we celebrated International Day of the Girl Child. This day is for addressing the challenges girls face, by promoting girls’ empowerment, amplifying their voices and fulfilling their human rights. It also highlights the importance of adolescent girls within communities, their contributions to society and future potential as empowered women and leaders. The theme for 2021 is ‘Digital generation, Our generation.’
Pacific Girl is one of the first programs in the Pacific region focused on supporting adolescent girls. The program is managed by Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development (Pacific Women) and involves 6 partners working across 6 different countries - Fiji, Papua New Guinea, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu. Pacific Girl aims to support adolescent girls in Pacific island countries to achieve their full potential by equipping them with skills to make informed decisions and build supportive environments in their communities.
'Evidence shows that educated, healthy and skilled adolescent girls will help build a better future, advance social justice, support economic development and combat poverty. Pacific Girl demonstrates Australia’s commitment to focus on adolescent girls’ needs, rights and opportunities.' – Pacific Women.
The 6 Pacific Girl programs are the Chuuk Women’s Council’s Young Women’s Empowerment Program in Federated States of Micronesia, the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement’s Girls Arise program, the Equal Playing Field’s Safe Schools, Strong Communities program in Papua New Guinea, the Young Women’s Christian Association Girls Rise Up! project in the Solomon Islands, the Talitha Project’s My Body! My Rights! program in Tonga and CARE’s Laef blo mi, vois blo mi program in Vanuatu. The partners running these programs are very different, but united by a common purpose – supporting adolescent girls to achieve their full potential.
Following the principle of “nothing about us without us,” adolescent girls are involved in the design and delivery of Pacific Girl. More than 200 adolescent girls from 6 countries have participated in focus group discussions, identifying their priorities – sexual and reproductive health and rights, access to education, climate change and freedom from violence. Twenty adolescent girls from Fiji, Tonga and Vanuatu brought their priorities and solutions to a network of stakeholders from Australia and Pacific island countries as part of the Pacific Girl design workshop. In total, Pacific Girl is supporting 9000 adolescents in the Pacific Islands. Participants of Pacific Girl projects have reported feeling more confident in many areas of their lives, which enhances individual agency.
In light of International Day of the Girl Child 2021, Pacific Girl is running a digital campaign to raise awareness on the rights of adolescent girls, as well as their important contributions to their communities and national and regional development, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Pacific Girl digital campaign invites girls to use the Picrew online tool to create paper doll-style avatars for social media. Using this tool, girls can create fun, artistic and empowering images of themselves using Pacific-specific costumes, jewellery and hair styles.
Head of Program Quality & Gender