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18 Mar 2021

“Investing in the whole girl”: Women leaders on what drives them

This year’s International Women’s Day theme was #ChooseToChallenge, which set an ambitious goal to spread awareness of how we can all challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. At CIFF, we chose to mark the occasion with a week-long campaign highlighting our female leaders and partners and showcasing how they continue to overcome barriers and advance women’s equality.

Every woman answered in a different way, and the result is a collection of personal testimonies which you can read at the link below.

At CIFF, gender intersects with our work in many ways – from our Girl Capital portfolio, to our Adolescence work on sexual and reproductive health, as well as our support to young feminist organisations and movements to challenge systemic injustices.

Girls and young women suffer disproportionately from gender discrimination, yet they hold the greatest potential for impact at scale. Investing in girls and young women will deliver big economic and social returns for countries and societies – for today and for future generations.

As we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, addressing and reversing its impact on women and girls will be one of the most effective ways to “build back better” for inclusive and sustainable development. The forthcoming Generation Equality Forum, which begins in Mexico at the end of this month, will be a key moment to accelerate change and ratchet up global ambition on gender equality.

For CIFF and our partners, achieving gender equality and broader equity is essential to a just and green economic recovery. We will continue to place girls and young women at the centre of our work – not placing the burden of change solely on their shoulders, but rather working to create an enabling environment within which they can thrive. This means working with men and boys as well as other community stakeholders to change harmful norms and attitudes, and to create champions for girls’ rights.

As Faustina, our Executive Director of CIFF Africa, would say, CIFF’s approach rests in investing in the “whole girl”. We look at how we can support her with access to quality information, education, skills, services, jobs and income generation opportunities, and with building the confidence and capacity to exercise her rights and realise her dreams. “We need to invest in the whole girl because that is what she is entitled to, and that is what she deserves.”

Manjula, our Director of Girl Capital, adds that CIFF’s programmes “aim to nurture skills development especially life skills for girls and young women… as well to tackle the social norms that hold girls and women down.”

“We need to invest in the whole girl because that is what she is entitled to, and that is what she deserves.”Faustina Fynn- Nyame, Executive Director, CIFF Africa

Thank you to all the women who contributed to our collection of testimonies, both from within CIFF and from our partner organisations.

Read the full testimonies here: #IChooseToChallenge Testimonies