Since 1937, the NGO Plan International has been campaigning for the rights of children in 75 countries. As part of the #MoveForYouth initiative, the Societe Generale “The Future Is You” Foundation decided to further strengthen its support for the organisation. Plan International was therefore one of the five international structures to benefit from donations collected in the context of this socially responsible sporting challenge.
To mark World Children's Day on 20 November, we look back at this fight to support children with Anne Bideau, the new director of Plan International France.
Whether as a result of conflicts, natural disasters or a pandemic, the most serious impacts are always on the rights of women and children.
And the most vulnerable in both these respects are girls, who are the most at risk of dropping out of school and of violence, forced labour and early marriages, accompanied by equally early pregnancies and their associated health risks.
“Girls' rights were immediately taken into account at Plan International,” explains Anne Bideau. “Children's rights include both sexes of course. But there was a gradual realisation that girls’ rights needed specific attention because there were barriers linked to gender inequalities that are unique to them, in addition to those faced by children in general.”
The organisation therefore asserts that unless specific actions are carried out in favour of girls, we will not be able to achieve the objective of a more just world in which children’s rights are respected.
The idea is obviously not to favour girls. But it's really about working constructively with girls and boys, to ensure that girls have the same rights as boys at all times.
Anne Bideau, director of Plan International France
A crucial point in the fight
However, there is no intention to downplay the good results already achieved...
The figures for extreme poverty have continued to decline over recent decades, accompanied at the same time by a decline in infant mortality and child labour, a higher rate of children in school, etc.
Things never go as fast as you would like, but these trends are still encouraging.
The current pandemic has brought that progress to a halt, however, and we are now seeing a reversal in the trend.
Extreme poverty is on the rise, as is the drop-out rate, with schools still closed in many countries, combined with the decision by some families to put everyone to work to try to bring in a little money to keep everyone fed.
Not to mention the climate crisis and the risk of seeing cultivated land disappear in some places due to rising waters.
“There are many reasons for us to continue the fight,” asserts Anne Bideau with conviction.
A fight that Plan International is waging on many fronts. Already supported in Cameroon by the Societe Generale Foundation for a programme focused on education and professional integration, the NGO will target support within the framework of the #MoveForYouth initiative for a new project entitled “Championnes”, a project that is already having an impact in Benin, Guinea and Togo. Also supported by AFD (French Development Agency) and FIFA (International Football Association), the project aims to empower young women through playing women’s football.
“Playing sport is obviously an important force,” explains the director of Plan International France. “Our approach is really to encourage young people themselves to become aware of their rights and the biases and prejudices that exist, etc. And we give them tools so that they can take action to change things themselves.”