The Girls Advocacy Alliance (GAA) is a 5-year programme (2016-2020) created by Plan International, Terre des Hommes, and Defence for Children/ECPAT. The programme is a strategic partnership funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. GAA envisions a world wherein all girls and young women can have equal rights and opportunities.
GAA’s main objective is to end all forms of gender-based violence and ensure girls and women are economically empowered. It is implemented in ten countries in Africa and Asia (Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Bangladesh, India, Nepal and the Philippines.) Defence for Children/ECPAT reached out and requested that we manage the GAA project implementation in Ghana and Ethiopia. The programme started in 2016 and when Dr. Annemarie Middelburg came on board, the inception phase had just been finalized. With the ToC developed and elaborated into concrete programme frameworks and action plans, it was time to start executing. We worked closely together with the implementing partners in Africa and called/e-mailed each other on a daily basis to monitor the activities that were organized, to set priorities and to ensure that progress was made towards outcomes. We also coordinated resources and measured performance to make sure the project was running smoothly.
Many of the GAA’s initiatives attempt to influence government officials, private sector stakeholders, civil society organisations and community leaders to procure impactful changes that will benefit girls and women. The programme also mobilises key traditional and religious leaders to address harmful norms and values. Their main strategies are: strengthening civil society organisations and networking within key spheres to obtain public support for their initiatives. Although we managed the project from the Netherlands HQ, we traveled to the field, in Africa, where we met the project’s implementing partners, and to Geneva for UN-related interventions that were part of the programme.
This was not a service-based project but a lobby and advocacy programme— where youth advocates and change-makers had to navigate complex processes and unpredictable occurrences. Even so, they did an amazing job! We are proud to have witnessed girls take the platform and speak out with conviction and enthusiasm. It was great to be involved in such an endeavor: the flagship programme of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which invests 40 million Euros in equal rights and opportunities for girls and women.