Around the world, girls, young women, and LGBTQ youth—particularly those who are ethnic minorities or refugees, live in rural areas, or belong to other highly marginalized populations—face exclusion, violence, and discrimination. Too often, they are left out of decisions that determine their futures. At The Global Fund for Children, we defend the right of all children to live free from discrimination and harmful gender-based attitudes and practices.
Through the work of our grassroots partners, we support girls’ education, sexual and reproductive health and rights, redefining masculinity, and the eradication of gender-based violence and harmful traditional practices, including child marriage and female genital mutilation/cutting. Our strategies engage entire communities—including parents, schools, community leaders, and local and national governments —to work collectively toward gender justice. We equip girls with knowledge and skills that will help them lead independent lives and empower them to become agents of change, while ensuring the men and boys in their lives are engaged in building a more equitable world.
Our grassroots partners provide shelter to LGBTQ youth who are fleeing violence or persecution, run LGBTQ support groups and summer camps, and offer essential health information and services. Our commitment to gender equity also values advocacy on sexual rights and sexual and gender identity, helping to create a safe and welcoming world for all children and youth.
México y Caribe Jóvenes A.C. / Chetumal, Quintana Roo, Mexico
The rise in tourism in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo has benefited the economy, but it has also led to a high level of internal migration. This creates a host of problems for children, including an increase in trafficking, sexual exploitation, family instability, and HIV infection.
At greatest risk are the children and youth of Mayan descent who live in the marginalized rural communities south of Cancun, such as Chunhuhub. Government programs for young people fail to reach these rural areas, and Mayan youth must also confront racism and discrimination. Recent studies have revealed that gender-based violence is an even greater problem in rural areas of Quintana Roo than in the state’s urban centers.
México y Caribe Jóvenes A.C. educates at-risk youth and trains them to become community leaders—and the organization is itself entirely led by young people. The organization focuses on promoting gender equality and sexual and reproductive health, with a goal of reducing teen pregnancy and HIV transmission. Its most innovative project is Colectivo J-Xiibal, a comprehensive personal development program for boys and young men in the Mayan community of Chunhuhub. Participants meet six days per week and benefit from comprehensive programming in personal development and life skills, environmental awareness, leadership skills, sexual and reproductive health, and entrepreneurship.
Most importantly, these meetings provide a safe space to discuss what it means to be men and how boys and young men can promote gender equality among their peers and in the community. J-Xiibal is the only group of its kind in Quintana Roo working exclusively with marginalized boys and young men of indigenous descent.
South Kolkata Hamari Muskan / Kolkata, India
The red-light districts of Kolkata are home not only to more than 60,000 brothel-based sex workers, but also to traffickers, pimps, and organized-crime members—and thousands of children.
These children may have been born to local sex workers, been brought into the district by traffickers, or simply migrated with their families from poor rural areas into the city in search of work. Children of sex workers are often driven out of their homes while their mothers are working, leaving them with no safe place to eat, sleep, or play. These children are highly vulnerable to sexual exploitation, physical abuse, and trafficking, in addition to living in abject poverty.
South Kolkata Hamari Muskan (SKHM) fights human trafficking in the red-light districts of Kolkata by empowering women and children to realize their right to a life free from exploitation and abuse. At SKHM’s day center, children of sex workers find a safe space and receive counseling, including play therapy and trauma reduction therapy to address trauma or abuse. SKHM also provides the children with nutritious food and basic education, and helps them transition to mainstream schools. Once the children are enrolled, SKHM offers academic support to keep them in school and on the path to success. To further break the cycle of exploitation, the organization also empowers teen girls through leadership programs, English courses, computer training, and other skill-building activities.
SKHM also conducts anti-trafficking campaigns at the community level, and works to give young women alternatives to sex work, providing them with training in skills like embroidery and tailoring, crafts, and jewelry making, in addition to twice-monthly counseling sessions.
A Ban Against Neglect / Accra, Ghana
As one of Africa’s largest and fastest-growing cities, Accra attracts migrants from all over Ghana who are in search of better economic opportunities. Sadly, tens of thousands of children and youth end up on the city’s streets, including an estimated 7,500 young mothers and their babies. These mothers are stigmatized for their living situation and face immense challenges in caring for their children and securing jobs.
A Ban Against Neglect (ABAN) empowers impoverished young mothers living on the streets of Accra, with the ultimate goal of breaking the cycle of poverty for them and their babies.
ABAN works intensively with the mothers for two years, providing them (and their babies) with permanent shelter and with opportunities to develop the financial and educational skills to get off the streets and achieve their long-term goals. The shelter includes classrooms, living quarters, a kitchen, and a daycare center, and ABAN provides nutritious meals and health insurance for the mothers and their children throughout their time there.
Through ABAN’s community network, the mothers are placed in apprenticeships in a chosen trade, such as hairdressing, sewing, or catering. ABAN complements this with life skills training, including classes in finance, entrepreneurship, nutrition, and civic education. Together, these programs empower young women to lead healthy, independent lives—an invaluable gift for them, and for their children.
Fokus Muda / Jakarta, Indonesia
In Indonesia, one in every five individuals newly infected with HIV is under the age of 25. HIV transmission among youth is largely due to unprotected sex and drug use, and few young people are aware of the symptoms of HIV/AIDS or the resources available for testing and treatment. Those at highest risk for infection are drug users and members of the LGBTQ community—yet they face discrimination and limited access to the healthcare and counseling they need.
An innovative, youth-led organization, Fokus Muda works to improve access to HIV/AIDS-related healthcare and education for Indonesia’s most vulnerable young people. The organization specifically targets transgender youth, men who have sex with men, sex workers, and current or recovering drug users—populations that are routinely marginalized and have limited access to services. Fokus Muda’s staff are themselves members of these populations and are all age 30 or younger.
The organization’s main project is LOLIPOP, which trains youth to educate their peers about HIV/AIDS. Staff also conduct sensitization workshops for healthcare workers, work to increase access to HIV testing, and disseminate safe-sex educational materials. Additionally, they hold online and in-person counseling sessions and organize support groups and community events to connect youth with local healthcare resources and engage them in the national HIV/AIDS conversation.
Fokus Muda also advocates for the inclusion of youth-focused approaches in the national HIV/AIDS response. In fact, the organization successfully advocated for strategies tailored to teens living with HIV/AIDS in the most recent National Strategic Plan on AIDS, covering the years 2015 to 2019.
The Global Fund for Children (GFC) UK Trust, created in 2006, is a UK registered charity (UK charity number 1119544). We work to generate vital income, create new fundraising opportunities, and raise awareness of the invaluable work of GFC’s grassroots grantees. Our aim is to extend the reach of GFC in the United Kingdom, Europe, and beyond.
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