Look, maybe it wasn't aaaaaall sunshine and rainbows, but compared to what 2020 has thrown at us all so far, it wasn't far off!
2019 marked the very beginning of our first multi-year strategy for One Girl (the sunshine lighting our way through the next three years), and a whole lot of amazing results for our girls and communities in Sierra Leone and Uganda (the rainbows), both of which are helping us fulfil our mission to harness the power of education to drive change for girls and their communities.
Because when you educate a girl, everything changes.
CRUNCHING THE NUMBERS
We achieved so many amazing things in 2019 that our program results speak for themselves!
WE PROVIDED QUALITY EDUCATION,
IN AND OUT OF THE CLASSROOM!
Spotlight on Business Brains
We’re in the business of helping girls get an education — even if it means they never set a foot inside a classroom. Because we know it isn’t possible for some girls to attend school. Maybe they were forced to drop out due to early pregnancy or their parents couldn't afford the fees. But it doesn’t mean they can’t still seize control of their lives and go on to become successful.
Our Business Brains program — which teaches girls about things like financial literacy, leadership and decision-making, menstrual hygiene management and sexual and reproductive health — makes sure of that. And while we knew we were onto a good thing with this program, we needed proof. So we engaged the team from Oasis School of Human Relations to evaluate the program for us.
What they found out was amazing. Girls were demanding their sexual rights and personal freedoms. Pathways began opening up to them, including many making the decision to return to school. They were paying it forward and their whole community was feeling the effects. And best of all? The program helped the girls restore belief in themselves. It was seriously the best result we could have asked for. If you want to check it out for yourself, have a read here.
WE WORKED TO SUPPORT AND INSPIRE FUTURE FEMALE ROLE MODELS!
WE ADVOCATED FOR SEXUAL RIGHTS, SAFE RELATIONSHIPS
AND RESPECT FOR GIRLS!
people were trained to deliver education on respectful relationships to men and boys in their communities.
health talks were held to educate girls on their sexual rights and bodily integrity and link them with health workers and essential services.
As part of our Business Brains program, we delivered classes on sexual and reproductive health and rights to:
WE PROMOTED HEALTH AND MENSTRUAL HYGIENE, AND TACKLED
HARMFUL TABOOS ABOUT PERIODS.
students enrolled in the menstrual hygiene management and water, sanitation and hygiene school clubs.
WE CHAMPIONED GENDER EQUALITY
BY ELEVATING THE VOICES OF WOMEN AND GIRLS!
We conducted our very first gender market analysis in Uganda with the generous and transformative support of Australian Ethical! The purpose of the study was to see what employment or business opportunities actually exist for girls and young women and then USE those learnings to design vocational and technical skills training in those areas!
In typical One Girl style, we put girls at the heart of this project — in addition to consulting local government, partners, training institutions and other community groups — so we consulted with adolescent girls and young women between the ages of 15-24 who had dropped out of secondary school in the regions where we work.
STICKING TO THE PLAN
2019 was an amazing start to the realisation of the four goals we set out in our strategy — and we're gonna
give it our all to do our very best for the next two years!
GOAL 1: We do things differently
We've never really fit the mould of your typical international NGO. We're small, so we have to do things differently to the big guys but we really pack a punch! This goal is all about making sure we're thinking outside the box to find new and inclusive ways for everyone to contribute to girls’ education and create positive social change.
We are constantly looking at ways to challenge the ‘vulnerable girl’ narrative, which has kept girls in the dark and meant they haven’t been empowered to take control over their own futures. One of the ways we’ve done this is by reviewing and re-shaping our scholarships intake process to be framed more positively. Rather than looking at so-called vulnerabilities that would mean a girl is deserving of a scholarship, we have based our selections on the assets girls bring to the program. This has made a huge difference for the mindset of both the scholars and the other students around them — the scholarship isn’t something that is “given” to them. It is earned.
And because we know traditional school isn’t for everyone, we have our Business Brains program. In Uganda, we had 156 students in the program learning vocational skills such as bakery, tailoring, seed multiplication, hairdressing, reusable pad production, making liquid soap and solar mechanics. We also believe the people best equipped to inspire and act as role models to girls are the women who have successfully completed the program themselves! That’s why 20 of our own scholarship alumni in Sierra Leone run Business Brains in their former schools!
Another small (but very helpful) thing we’ve done this year is started using mobile money transfer to get stipends to focal teachers in the schools we work in. This has meant we are able to better track the funds (ensuring accountability), teachers now don’t have to worry about cash handling, and there is less time travelling for One Girl staff to give and receive cash. We’re all about efficiencies, people!
“Feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings.”
– Cheris Kramarae
GOAL 2: Girls’ voices are heard
No. We mean really heard. We're not interested in lip-service, so this goal helps us stay on track to make sure that our programs are developed in collaboration with girls, for girls, empowering them by amplifying their voices rather than speaking for them. Ultimately, we want the girls themselves to drive that change.
How do we do this? It’s pretty simple, really: we ask them. We engaged an external organisation to evaluate our Business Brains program, engaging the girls we work with, their schools and their communities to determine what’s working and what’s not, who is benefiting from it the most, and how could we shape and improve the program moving forward. After all, the students we work with have to undergo regular examinations … it’s only fair that we do too! There were heaps of super exciting results (which you can read about here) but one of the biggest outcomes of the evaluation was that we re-did our Theory of Change to be focused on female leadership within the program.
Because that’s what our girls are — leaders. This was especially apparent during International Women’s Day this year when our scholars created The Girls Parliament as a way to discuss the amendment to the Sexual Offences Act that had recently passed in Sierra Leone. This was a game-changing moment in the country, with the Act changed to better protect the rights of girls and women by establishing a proper database of sexual offenders and recognising rape as a crime. The alumni accompanied our scholars to training with over 100 girls from different organisations where the girls learnt how to debate and vote like a member of parliament.
We also talked a lot about periods this year (it’s one of our favourite subjects, *shrugs*). We hired seven young Sierra Leonean researchers to evaluate our LaunchPad program and represent the voices of their fellow citizens. LaunchPad is all about making sure women and girls have access to affordable, hygienic sanitary products and their communities are educated on menstrual hygiene management so there’s no more shame or taboo. It also empowers local women — who we call LaunchPad Champions — to run the program themselves. Is it working? Read this to find out (but yeah, it really is).
“We want the education by which character is formed, strength of mind is increased, intellect is expanded, and by which one can stand on one’s own feet.”
— Swami Vivekananda
GOAL 3: People want to be part of One Girl
This one is super important to us. We're only as strong as the community that supports us, so we need to inspire our community to be happy, thriving and passionate about educating girls so that they drive the movement!
He would ride 700km and he would ride 700km more, just to be the man who rode 700km for girls' education. Yes, that’s right, one of our amazing supporters Ryan Moore completed an epic bike ride from Melbourne to Adelaide this year and he did it all in a dress! Battling strong headwinds, chilling morning conditions and a lack of good coffee, Ryan valiantly rode more than 700kms to raise money for girls’ education and we proclaim him a total legend for it!
Because it’s only through people like Ryan that we can meet unexpected challenges as they arise. For example, when we saw a rise in the number of girls getting pregnant this year, we immediately got to work engaging parents to help mitigate this issue. We did home visits and held information sessions on sexual and maternal health, as well as offering mentoring for girls and their families. Sadly, there has also been a national rise in cases of child sexual assault and violence and the Sierra Leonean Government declared a national state of emergency related to gender-based and sexual violence in 2019. For too long, a culture of silence and indifference towards sexual violence has left many cases going unreported. By engaging the families of the girls we work with, we hope to create a home environment where more girls feel empowered to speak up and stand against sexual violence.
This is why our Ambassadors back here in Australia are so important — because they help spread awareness about issues that prevent girls from getting an education and raise funds for programs that help girls overcome these barriers. One such Ambassador is Molly, who said being a part of the program has empowered her to feel like she can make a difference in the world:
“Through the experience, I learnt more about the link between girls’ education and the positive impact it has on reversing the effects of climate change. I was overwhelmed... but being an ambassador made me realise there are solutions that exist, and I could be a part of making them happen!”
“No country can ever truly flourish if it stifles the potential of its women and deprives itself of the contributions of half of its citizens.”
— Michelle Obama
GOAL 4: Others benefit from what we do
We're all about sharing the love at One Girl. We love what we do and want you to love it too! We want to create surprising and impactful initiatives and solutions through mutually beneficial collaborations!
One of the most special moments when talking to students in Australia about students in Sierra Leone is seeing it click in their mind about how different their lives could be, just because of where they were born. It is this that inspires them to want to take action and we are so grateful. This year, we did 51 school talks and had 23 schools participate in Do It In A Dress. One of our biggest school supporters, Eltham High, has raised almost $80,000 for One Girl and this year, they raised $22,000 alone! We love you Eltham HS!
But we don’t just work with students — we support teachers in Sierra Leone and Uganda as well! Because we know a girls’ education is largely dependent on the quality of their teachers, and teachers deserve support too! This year, we helped 18 teachers (11 of whom were women) to finish their first year of higher teaching certificates. The majority of our teacher-scholars achieved distinctions and one of them even got the Dean’s Award for academic achievement! Yes, thank you, we’re very proud.
We also worked with the Ministry of Education to train 18 senior teachers in girl-friendly pedagogy (that means the method of teaching) to help them become better role models and discuss solutions for issues their students might be facing. Then we designed something really awesome — those 18 teachers formed nine learning circles with other teachers and now 135 teachers meet regularly to develop their skills, assist each other with student issues and learn about a different topic. How cool is that?
We also launched an exciting new program with Marie Stopes this year (big thanks to the Barlow Foundation, who funded the whole thing!) It was a community-based program, where we trained 48 people (including 10 young female One Girl alumni members!) to educate men and boys on the importance of safe and respectful relationships. The program focused on changing the conversation around teen pregnancy, healthy relationships and consent and they ended up reaching a massive 968 people (including people of influence in their communities)!
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
— Nelson Mandela
And the Oscar goes to...
... the 210 students from 15 schools who performed productions that reduce period stigma and teach communities about menstrual hygiene! As part of our Lights, Camera, Period! program, we partnered with Amnesty International to teach new 22 trainers in theatre skills, so they could go back to their schools and help their students put on productions that engage communities in owning new narratives and influencing behaviour change. Bravo!
IN GOOD COMPANY
How good is our community? That's not a rhetorical question – they're awesome!
Not only did they do all the mind-blowingly generous and wonderful things above, but our Ambassadors and their teams did things like raise $182,808 for girls education. Not to be outdone, 617 students from 33 universities raised $143,698 as part of Do It In A Dress! Oh, and did we mention that 107 selfless legends foregoed their birthday gifts this year in favour of donations to One Girl, as part of our I Don't Want A Present campaign?
Then on top of that, we spoke to students at 51 schools across Australia and had 23 schools participate in Do It In A Dress. Plus, 33 new regular givers joined our Graduation program, bringing the total number to 306!
We know that's a lot of figures to comprehend but in short, our love for our community is infinite.
We love Lucy!
Our volunteers are some of the greatest people in the world and no, we’re not being hyperbolic. Take Lucy, for instance. Even once she’d finished her internship with One Girl as part of her Master of International Development, she decided to stay on as a volunteer with our programs team two days a week. Why?
“It’s amazing to be able to see first-hand the impact One Girl has and how girls are able to thrive when they have access to education,” she said. “Volunteering has allowed me to grow and develop in unquantifiable ways.”
This legend helps out every Tuesday and Thursday with things like monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) reports, research and assisting our team with anything they need to keep our programs running smoothly. We don’t know what we’d do without her and all the other volunteers who show up every week with a smile and a passion to make the world better for girls. Onya Luce!
IN THE BIZ OF BEING AWESOME
When you hear the words "business partners", often what comes to mind is two dull dudes in pinstriped suits, shaking hands over briefcases. But our Business Partners couldn't be further from that dry (and incredibly outdated!) picture. They are fresh and vibrant companies full of fun, passionate and hardworking people who are making products and offering services that are truly changing the game. They also happen to care a lot about girls' education and are exceedingly generous with their time, money and resources to help us achieve our goals. We are so grateful to each and every one, including the 10 new companies who joined our ranks this year!
Bec + Bridge
Haverstock Hill Foundation
Bang the Table
Mass + Muster
Wildings Pantry Essentials
Sustainable Resource Use
Souten Clothing Co.
New Energy Ventures
One Fine Secret
The Mindful Collective
Major Donors/Trusts & Foundations:
Seventh Street Ventures
Haverstock Hill Foundation
Australian Ethical Foundation
Morris Family Foundation
Vivienne Court Trading
THE PIGGY BANK
Our 2019 piggy bank was the ultimate provider! This year we were able to pump the biggest amount of cash EVER directly into our programs in Sierra Leone and Uganda! It’s not that we had a bumper year fundraising, we were just able to spend some accumulated savings from previous years to provide even more support to our team on the ground, and to the girls and communities that we work with!
We also made a significant investment in our (very old and clunky) online presence which was a long time coming! This was huge for us because as you probably know, our website is a critical foundation upon which we’re able to build knowledge, spread awareness, fundraise and of course communicate with our community! We were able to combine four different sites into the one stellar (if we do say so ourselves) website those gorgeous eyes of yours are taking in now. It’s already paid off in spades by automating processes that used to take us hours to do manually, which means we’re spending less time getting bogged down with tedious administrative tasks and more time doing the important stuff like supporting our education programs!
Seeing as this report is getting to you so late in the year, we thought it would be remiss of us not to give you a very quick status report on how we’re doing NOW, nine months into 2020. We’re chuffed to report that despite the pressure that the bushfires and the global pandemic put on the not-for-profit sector, we made some tough decisions early enough to have lasting benefits for our bottom line and YOU and the rest of our beloved community rallied to make sure we not only weathered the storm but were able to sail north again with the wind in our sails!
In short, you can view our financial statement here, but don’t be alarmed by our spending — it’s stood us in good stead and this last nine months has been all about doubling down and doing less and doing it better. We’re always learning! And that ladies and gentlemen is what it's all about!