To your 2021 One Girl Annual Report.
It’s 2022 and before the year goes too far along, we thought we should take a moment to look back at 2021, another year that kept us on our toes!
In the next few scrolls, you will find all the juicy details about One Girl’s transformative programs in Sierra Leone and Uganda, and how we navigated the ups and downs in 2021. You will hear from Scholars, our team members, volunteers and participants and crunch the numbers with us!
Let’s kick things off, shall we?
Let's start with a One Girl CEO recap!
What a year 2021 was! At One Girl, we boldly embraced the highs and lows - and the in-betweens.
This was my first year as CEO at One Girl, and a foundational year for the majority of the One Girl team amidst the challenging times and uncertainty that 2021 presented us all with.
What a privilege it has been to work with the exceptional and formidable One Girl community - Board, staff, volunteers, partners, ambassadors, donors, regular givers, and supporters - who all rose to the occasion. And, through the uncertainty of lockdowns and restrictions in Uganda, Sierra Leone and Australia, were still able to ensure that girls' education inside and outside the classroom was the focus. I am inspired by the One Girl community and feel such gratitude towards each and every one of you!
In 2021, we said goodbye (actually more like see you later!) to our amazing Programs and Fundraising Directors, and we welcomed a new Senior Leadership Team. We developed a new Strategy 2022-2027 (watch this space - coming soon!) and worked to ensure that we were always connected with our community throughout the pandemic restrictions.
I am excited about what 2022 brings and look forward to sharing even more inspiring stories of transformation with you as we work and walk together on this journey. We celebrate the wins and lessons from 2021 and look forward to 2022 and all that it brings.
We thank you all for your ongoing and unwavering support of girls' education. Without your support, One Girl would not be where she is today. Thank you!
One Girl CEO
All the love from Sierra Leone
With the impact of COVID-19 still rife, our approach to our work in 2021 was to focus on quality and not quantity. 2020 allowed for a lot of reflection and regrouping. Our methodology for 2021 was to engage and bring our girls even closer and deepen our work. Through our Monthly Scholar Meetings themed around our values, learning and interaction we saw our vision come to life. Girls from the same schools began to recognize and honour each other. Bonds have also been formed between girls from different schools.
We had an opportunity to adjust our program born out of the pandemic Girl Tok. With the learning from the pilot and the first cohort, we were able to make adjustments to the curriculum. We invested in the development of sisterhood, self-confidence, life skills, wellbeing and digital literacy. The return on investment has been enormous! We have seen a shift in girls’ participation, public speaking skills, and a rise in overall pass rates on public exams. Even their way of dressing has changed! The shift has been breathtaking to watch throughout the year.
COVID-19 brought on a rise in the cost of fuel and commodities. This affects girls who come from households that operate well below the poverty line. Our community remains an integral part of the One Girl family. Community Engagement activities keep our communities informed and in tune with the development of the Scholars. The quarterly meetings including interactive sessions are also themed around One Girl values and how they can support Scholars’ development.
One of the highlights of the year was our 16 Days of Activism campaign - Street plays put on by One Girl Scholars and performed at their schools. The plays were based around themes of preventing gender based violence. Students were enthralled as the plays were entertaining, powerful, and informative.
Overall, 2021 can be looked at as the year of expansion, growth and depth. These activities were led and implemented by our amazing and dedicated team in Sierra Leone who work every day to make life better for girls.
Africa Regional Director
Q & A WITH A ONE GIRL SCHOLAR
Sylvia*, Girls in School (GIS) Scholar and Girl Tok participant
How did COVID-19 impact you?
Last two years have been challenging. Due to the pandemic, we stopped going to school and were at home for a very long time. I did not like being at home. During that period I was doing more chores and was given more responsibilities because I am the first born child in the family. It also affected my mother because she is a petty trader; she didn't sell much goods and our family income became very low.
Share with us a bit about your experience with One Girl...
Through One Girl there was Girl Tok and it was very interesting for me. I got to do so many exercises and I will forget about my responsibilities during lessons. I met a new mentor who was nice. Also, part of my lunch fund given to me [during the program] was utilised by my mother very well, and that helped our finances a bit. I enjoyed our Scholar Monthly Meetings, as well as, the [life skills and MHM] training we got last year.
What did you learn?
I learned so many life skills like budgeting, menstrual hygiene education; how to browse the internet, how to use an Android phone, the new apps and colouring game were exciting during Girl Tok. I also learned about different celebrated holidays around the world that I didn’t know about in school; for example 16 Days of Activism. I’ve learned a lot about the One Girl values.
What was your favourite thing about the program?
My favourite thing about the program was the colouring game, and to talk about My Body, My Choice. I also loved [hearing from] the women that have done well in life that were inspiring us every week. It was exciting when I got to use an Android phone and I learned new things everyday. Internet coverage issues were a challenge because of the location of my house.
What inspired you?
Working with the [One Girl] field officers has inspired me a lot. They advise us, and they treat us kindly as companions or friends.
What is your biggest dream?
At first, my aspiration was to become an accountant. But being a part of One Girl; I want to now become a Social Worker. I want to be there for others in need, encouraging them, not discriminating [against] them and inspiring them to keep pushing in life.
What would you like to do when you finish school?
I am looking forward to One Girl expanding their reach to university students, they also need help. I am looking forward to Girl Tok and Scholar Monthly Meetings. I am excited to work as GIS Ambassador now, and tell other girls about what One Girl is doing for us and encourage them to be a part of GIS.
Do you have a message for the One Girl community and supporters?
Our parents will not be able to afford what One Girl is given to us because of our family’s financial situation. I want to say a big thank you to donors and One Girl in Sierra Leone; they are creating an impact in our lives.
*Sylvia's name has been changed to protect her identity.
MHM = Menstrula Hygiene Management GIS = Girls In School program
THE YEAR OF 2021!
We've tallied the numbers and are excited to share them with you! The thing is when we win, girls win. Let us show you how...
We provide access to quality education – in and out of the classroom!
Scholars participated in the Girls In School Program.
young women trained in vocational training through Girls Emerge
girls participated in online learning through Girl Tok
teachers participated in Teacher Learning Circles through Teachers of Tomorrow
We support and inspire future female role models.
mentors facilitated lessons in Girl Tok
trainee teachers from Teachers of Tomorrow received scholarships
female activists and influencers created videos/lessons for the Leh Wi Tok series in Girl Tok
young women were trained in advocacy, equipped with knowledge and skills through Girls Emerge to work with community leaders to affect community-led change
We advocate for sexual rights, safe relationships and respect for girls.
(62 girls and 13 mentors) girls and young women participated in My Body, My Choice online lessons in Girl Tok
schools engaged with street plays written and performed by One Girl Scholars on creating safe spaces for the global 16 Days of Activism to Prevent Gender-based Violence campaign
community members were involved in workshops to implement community solutions to gender-based violence following the 16 Days of Activism campaign
We promote health and menstrual hygiene, and tackle period taboos.
girls participated in sessions on menstrual hygiene, menstrual stigma, period poverty, and period stigma in the Girls in School program
pads were distributed through Girls in School and Girl Tok programs
We champion gender equality by elevating the role and status of women and girls.
young women were trained in entrepreneurship and life skills through Girls Emerge Uganda
(62 girls and 13 mentors) girls and young women in Girl Tok learnt about gender, their strengths and rights
girls and young women in Girl Tok used their voices to create videos about issues important to them
Programs Deep Dive
One Girl Programs: goodbyes, disruptions and going global!
2021 saw the International Programs Director, Erica Berthelsen move on to other opportunities. When Erica brought her dynamic energy to One Girl, she changed everything - from living in Sierra Leone for months at a time to help establish the office there, to being a huge part of bringing Girl Tok to life, her impact will be felt for years to come. Huge appreciation also to Lucy Samsa-Knapp, Programs Coordinator extraordinaire, who not only kept the lights on for Programs and Partnerships while there was a gap in Directors but continues to grow it from strength to strength every day.
The biggest thanks of all however goes to our incredible team in Sierra Leone and our partners ARUWE in Uganda. Headed by feminist powerhouses Yeniva Sisay in Sierra Leone and Agnes Mirembe in Uganda these teams are unstoppable.
Joining One Girl in June 2021 was like entering a rushing river – nothing is stopping One Girl Sierra Leone and ARUWE in Uganda from making sure girls are educated, supported, safe and healthy! Despite disruptions and delays due to COVID, so much was achieved in 2021. What committed, talented and innovative teams delivering incredible outcomes for girls and young women! Girls in School in Sierra Leone saw more students passing their final exams than ever before (thanks to your support over the years to make this happen!), Girl Tok expanded, and young women in Uganda were trained and started their own businesses.
A real highlight for me was our interaction with adolescent girls. To help develop our new strategy, we asked girls in Sierra Leone “If you were the boss of One Girl for one day, what would you do?” Their answers were of course inspiring, and have been turned into the 10 outcomes we are working towards in our new five-year strategy. Our International Day of the Girl online party brought together girls and young women in Australia, Sierra Leone and Uganda to talk about their lives - and wow, did they blow our minds!
Join us in 2022 as we expand Girl Tok even further, begin new partnerships with incredible feminst organisations, and put adolescent girls’ and young women’s experiences of, and solutions to, barriers to education right at the doorstep of leaders - of communities, nations and globally!
One Girl International Programs & Partnerships Director
In May, Scholars came together for Menstrual Hygiene Day, learning about menstrual hygiene, period poverty and period stigma
Girls In School
For those of you who know One Girl well, you may be asking yourself, “What is Girls In School, and, gosh, whatever happened to Scholarships?!”. Well they are one and the same. In 2021, the Scholarships program was renamed Girls In School (GIS). This was because this program isn't just about providing funding for girls to go to school, but is so much more than that!
We wanted you, our amazing supporters, to know that when you support One Girl and this program, you are supporting One Girl Scholars in so many other ways - including with school uniforms, solar lights for evening study, sanitary pads, monthly sessions to learn about things such as menstrual hygiene and money matters, extra classes, community engagement with parents and leaders, and so much more.
Girls In School is all about understanding that there are many barriers to girls accessing education, not just finances. Working in a holistic, multifaceted manner we can ensure that girls are supported in accessing education, and have the resources to thrive.
In 2021, we supported 204 Scholars in Sierra Leone through the Girls In School program. After lockdowns and school closures in 2020, the Scholars were so excited to get back into the classroom, and get their education on! They were eager to get involved in activism, and learn about online movements, and advocacy.
In May, Scholars came together for Menstrual Hygiene Day, learning about menstrual hygiene, period poverty and period stigma, using photos and hashtags to share Menstrual Health messages.
In October, for International Day of the Girl, two Scholars from the program joined an international, online panel to share their experiences. In November, Girls In School Scholars, joined the 16 Days of Activism global campaign, sharing messages about sexual and gender base violence to their whole schools through a street play they wrote, directed and produced!
In 2022, we are so excited that we will be recruiting more Scholars to the Girls in School program! We can not wait to have a new cohort of fierce girls on board, because as we all know, “Who run the world? Girls!”
Let’s talk Girl Tok. Girl Tok was piloted in 2020 in Freetown, Sierra Leone in response to COVID-19 lockdowns and school closures. Aiming to keep girls engaged and learning whilst stuck at home, it brought girls online, using phones and online girls clubs where they could connect and learn. In 2021, with girls back in the classroom, Girl Tok continued with after school sessions focused on digital literacy, wellness, advocacy, bodily consent and autonomy.
Most exciting was that as well as delivering Girl Tok in Freetown, we were able to go rural, taking Girl Tok to Tonkolili, a remote region in Sierra Leone. This was a challenge as in many areas there is no cellular connection and in other areas, it can be a bit spotty. Also, rainy weather meant that the solar chargers were sometimes impeded by the lack of sunshine. But that didn’t rain on our parade!
Our dream team of Field Officers (Isha, Abdulai, Mary, Ibrahim and Kadiatu - you guys rock!) were there to support the girls, through every step of the way! For girls in Tonkolili, access to the internet was a whole new experience - 70% had never used the internet before Girl Tok! But by the end, they were surfing the web like pros, with 87% saying that they were now ‘really confident’ using the internet!
Girl Tok continues to thrive in Sierra Leone, with the girls so excited to continue their learning outside of the classroom, and our superstar Field Officers keeping them supported and engaged. The success of this program has meant that we have been busy expanding and developing partnerships with other local feminist NGOs in Africa and beyond. Through these partnerships, we are co-designing digital curriculums that suit their contexts and needs.
In 2022, we will go global, starting in the Pacific, then Uganda, then wherever she dares to roam! We are also going to work with boys to make sure they know they are part of the solution when it comes to gender equality - so we have renamed our global program to Let’s Tok! - so everyone knows they are invited to the party for gender equality!
Girl Tok participants with One Girl Africa Regional Director, Yeniva Sisay, at their graduation in 2021.
Teachers of Tomorrow
Teachers of Tomorrow has been an amazing, innovative program that we have loved being able to deliver. The team in Sierra Leone has been working to promote gender equality in the classroom and increase the number of skilled teachers in One Girl’s partner schools in Sierra Leone.
As a three year program, it supported unaccredited volunteer teachers, throughout their teacher training, providing scholarships, support, access to networks and guaranteed job positions. 2021 was the final year of study for our 18 teacher scholars, who sat their final exams in November.
As well as teacher scholarships, Teachers of Tomorrow engaged and connected with other teachers, through Teacher Learning Circles. At these gatherings, teachers were able to come together, share knowledge and learn gender responsive methods to really shape the next generation of teachers. Due to COVID-19 and the subsequent restrictions on gatherings and travel, these were paused in the first half of the year. However, as restrictions eased our teachers were able to resume getting together, learning about tips, tools and resources to use in their classrooms.
Many of the teachers in these circles are volunteers and have not received formal teacher training. These circles are their first foray into learning about best practice pedagogy. They are a space where they can learn about being the best teachers they can be, and work with their students to be the best they can be!
Trainee Teachers at a Teacher Learning Circle in October 2021
Girls Emerge, Uganda
Girls Emerge is our vocational training program in Uganda, and is delivered in partnership with Action for Rural Women’s Empowerment (ARUWE) who work to provide vocational training for girls and young women in rural regions of Uganda.
Uganda was heavily affected by COVID-19 in 2021, experiencing the world’s longest lockdown, with schools and workplaces closed, and stay at home orders in place for much of the year. This impacted the program heavily, as vocational training was impeded, travel was restricted, and gatherings were minimal. However it has been amazing to see what has been achieved amidst these circumstances.
Firstly, our first cohort of 156 entrepreneurs graduated in August! Due to COVID-19, their graduation had been delayed, but in the second half of the year they were able to be celebrated at small ceremonies (COVID-19 safe of course) attended by key community leaders, local government representatives and others. It was amazing to hear what they had been up to since completing their training. Some noted that they had to become trainers of trainees themselves, passing on knowledge to other young women and youth in their communities.
200 girls and young women were able to continue their vocational and entrepreneurship training in baking, mobile repairs, briquette stoves and beekeeping. Excitingly, they have begun opening the doors of their businesses, and getting their products and services out into the community.
As well as working on their enterprises, this cohort of girls and young women has been working on developing their advocacy and leadership skills. 30 girls were trained in advocacy, focusing on things such as, types of advocacy and the steps to successful advocacy. Through this they enhanced their confidence in public speaking as they set out to engage their community leaders around issues affecting them, as well as, share their skills and knowledge with others.
We look forward to sharing more of what these female business titans will be doing in 2022!
Girls Emerge Uganda participant
Fundraising highlights from 2021
After 2020 threw normality up in the air, 2021 had a few more surprises in store for us. The fundraising & campaigns team did an incredible job at keeping up the enthusiasm and staying agile in the face of lockdowns and a different economic landscape.
Change was also in the air at One Girl though, and by mid-winter a new team was welcomed.
Diving into the tenth anniversary of Do It In A Dress & a new year of the Ambassador program, we hit the ground running. And what a way to start! To truly get to see the passion & care our donor community has for One Girl.
From Australia to Singapore, UK to Sierra Leone, One Girl supporters are so special! Showcased through community fundraisers, campaign support, philanthropy, business partners and monthly Graduation members, it has been amazing to see the drive people have to save the world, one girl at a time.
With a fresh team comes fresh ideas and we have been excitedly working towards new ways of fundraising at One Girl. Embracing our organisational values we’re going to be innovative, positive and are here to challenge the status quo.
The entire team wants to thank all of our incredible supporters. Thank you for sticking with us through lockdown(s), for believing in what we do, and for upholding the fact that every girl should have access to education. One Girl wouldn’t exist without you.
Here’s to 2022 - we can’t wait to embrace it with you!
One Girl Fundraising Director
was raised through fundraising, which will go a long way in supporting our programs. Incredible! Here are a few highlights from the year:
Over $73,000 raised!
In 2021, the One Girl Ambassador program was again a roaring success! The Ambassador program is designed to provide fundraising, leadership and advocacy training to our most passionate supporters, giving them the opportunity to learn about the power of girls’ education, and its link to sustainable development, gender equality and climate change.
This year, we had 197 applications for the Ambassador program, and we went on to enlist 144 individuals from all over Australia, New Zealand, Canada, America and the United Kingdom. They came together to learn and inspire each other, and then led their own fundraising campaigns within their communities. Together, they raised over $73,000 for One Girl’s programs - Aren’t they amazing?! We feel so lucky to have such fierce supporters and are so proud of the amazing year our Ambassadors have had! Whilst COVID meant most of our sessions were held online, it was lovely to meet a small group of Melbourne-based Ambassadors at our Graduation Picnic!
Do It In A Dress
1,283 DIIAD participants
4,663 DIIAD donors
134 DIIAD teams
$210,094 raised through DIIAD in 2021
This year One Girl celebrated its 10th Anniversary of Do It In A Dress! Thank you to all those who donned a school dress and fundraised for girls’ education.
DIIAD Fundraiser Spotlight
Meet the amazing Lakshmi… a Do It In A Dress legend, and fundraiser from The Women’s College at the University of Queensland. Although Lakshmi’s fundraising target was $900 (to educate three girls for an entire year), she ended up raising $1,372, how amazing! This contributed to a huge fundraising effort by The Women’s College, where the team, led by the amazing Meg Munro, went on to raise $27,723!
Lakshmi says that “Women’s education is integral for raising living standards in any country. And the fact that women’s education is linked to mitigating the effects of climate change is another reason why we should support global access to education!”
“Supporting One Girl means that I can be part of something bigger than me, be part of a positive global change,” says Lakshmi about her first-ever Do It In A Dress campaign.
How awesome are all our Do It In A Dress legends, what an incredible year and even more amazing 10 years it has been!
15 fundraisers who held their own DIY events
$12,195 raised by DIY fundraisers
16 fundraisers who took part in ‘I Don’t Want A Present’ and asked for donations over gifts
$12,816 raised by 'I Don’t Want A Present' fundraisers
11 Schools who fundraised (outside of taking part in Do It In A Dress!)
$20,667 raised by schools
10 school talks delivered
121 Graduation members
$157,111 raised by monthly donors
A huge thank you goes to our Graduation Members. These 120 people commit to giving a monthly donation to One Girl and it is truly one of the best, most sustainable ways to make a difference.
We Our Community
SHOUT OUT time to our uber wonderful community of incredible supporters and business partners. We honestly cannot say THANK YOU enough for sticking by us in 2021.
Thank you to these sensational Business Partners for their unwavering support in 2021.
- Haverstock Hill Foundation
- Australian Ethical Foundation
- Morris Family Foundation
- Vivienne Court Trading
- Rachel Emma Ferguson Foundation
We are incredibly grateful for the amazing people that put their hand up to volunteer at One Girl. They selflessly donate their time, skills and expertise to keep us moving and bring new and exciting perspectives to our work. They are absolute superstars. In 2021, we had some amazing volunteers work with us, but we’d especially like to shout out three incredible powerhouse ladies!
Meet Francine Sukai Kamara.
Francine volunteered with One Girl in Sierra Leone. She is a Law graduate from the University of South Carolina School of Law and has received her licence to practise Law as an attorney in Washington D.C. She began volunteering with One Girl in October 2021 and spent most of her time with the field officers, accompanying them on their field missions to various schools. She particularly enjoyed this experience because it allowed her to interact with the Scholars. She supported the team and Scholars to prepare a play for the 16 Days of Activism campaign in 2021 - “this has absolutely been the highlight of my volunteer experience, as it has been a pleasure witnessing the Scholars’ acting talents, as well as their excitement in educating their peers, which shows that One Girl is a phenomenal organisation that is really making an impact in the lives of many Sierra Leonean girls. Although my time volunteering with One Girl has not been too long, I have enjoyed every minute!”
Meet Jessica Zhang and Pooja Murty.
Jess and Pooja joined the One Girl fundraising team in the middle of 2021, and worked with us across many fundraising projects. They were our superstar DIIAD packers and organisers. The whole campaign would not have gone ahead without them. Jess & Pooja spent every Tuesday throughout lockdown smashing through the orders, despite the eerie silence of the Melbourne streets! They also serviced the One Girl shop and helped us research new grant applications. They really are incredible humans!
About her time at One Girl, Pooja (pictured here) said: “Through my volunteering, I got a better understanding of how fundraising campaigns work and also got the opportunity to use different fundraising tools. Most importantly, I understood the significance of campaigns being 'girl-led' - giving young girls the agency to effect change in their own lives. I loved working with a team that was so warm and welcoming, and knowing that my work helped, if even in a small way, make a change in a girl's life!”
International Day of The Girl 2021
What’s more inspirational than a group of incredible girls and women coming together to talk all things education, opportunity and CHOICE?! And on one of the most important days of the year for us - International Day of the Girl on 11 October 2021.
We facilitated our first ever digital event for International Day of the Girl, bringing together program participants, partners, supporters and our community on the most special day of the year.
Throughout the evening, we heard from Scholars and program participants in Sierra Leone and Uganda, program partners, volunteers, Ambassadors, the One Girl team and Board – and even had a special appearance from H.W Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, Mayor of Freetown!
“You have a right to education. Your voice needs to be heard,” said Ms. Aki-Sawyerr, addressing the girls and young women at the event and beyond.
“I want to encourage you to stand up and take your space. It isn’t easy, but there is a growing movement and this organisation [One Girl] is a part of the movement. Girls are the only solution to the problems we face as a continent...”
Everyone in the audience was captivated by the speakers, including by the panel featuring Scholars from Sierra Leone, Girls Emerge participants from Uganda and Ambassadors from Australia in conversation about what's it like being girls from their end of the world.
We’re so grateful to those who joined us, celebrated our work and showed their commitment to our vision and mission. In case you missed it...
We are so pleased to have come out the other side of 2020 stronger than ever! Thanks to our incredible community of supporters for sticking with us last year, we were still able to achieve 93% of our pre-COVID-19 fundraising target, which has put us in a great position to put more back into our programs in 2021 and get them back on track!
We spent less than planned on our programs in 2020 due to COVID’s interruption and having to pause a number of them, but that has just made us even more excited to see what we can do in 2021 (and beyond!).
Read our 2021 Financial Statement in full by clicking below!
And that was our 2021! We made the most of the challenges and the opportunities that came our way. The team in Sierra Leone worked their hardest to reconnect with Scholars and close the gap after all the disruption from the pandemic. Our partners stood with us through it all, and we worked together to keep our programs going. Our donors and supporters never once dropped the ball and we wouldn’t be here without them. Our team in Australia went through a transformation and are now ready to take on 2022. Onwards! Thank you for being here with us, and for continuing to support our work!
Love, the One Girl team x