In every child there’s a spark of imagination, curiosity and ambition. But not every child is born with the same opportunities. That's why Marie Claire Edit has teamed up with Plan International UK - a global children’s charity working hard to protect and educate vulnerable children - to help make a difference. And by shopping our edits, you can too. For every purchase made via the Marie Claire Edit shopping platform, a contribution will now be made to help girls fulfil their true potential. So, you really can call it an 'investment piece…
Editor in Chief Trish Halpin travelled to Ghana with her daughter Esme, 14, and Plan International UK to meet the girls and women tackling teenage pregnancies and gender inequality. Here, she shares their experiences and explains why Marie Claire Edit is supporting the charity’s work.
It’s fantastic that Marie Claire Edit shoppers will be helping Plan International UK simply by purchasing their favourite clothes…
Trish Halpin: ‘We’ve been working with Plan International UK here at Marie Claire for many years because they champion equality for girls and advance children’s rights across the world. Plan works with governments and communities on tackling the causes of gender-based violence, ending child marriage, supporting children in refugee camps and getting girls into education and keeping them there. Millions and millions of girls are not in school, which is an outrage in the 21st century. Let’s face it, the world will not change for the better until this statistic does.’
You recently went to visit one of Plan International UK’s programmes in Ghana. Could you tell us a bit about the programme?
TH: ‘I have commissioned many features about charitable initiatives during my career, but I’d never actually visited one of these projects for myself. So when the team at Plan invited myself and my 14-year-old-daughter Esme to visit one of their programmes in Africa for Marie Claire’s 30th birthday last year, we jumped at the chance. During our three days in the capital Accra and the Koforidua region in the east, we met many inspirational people empowering girls and helping to keep them in school, as well as the girls themselves who are overcoming so many obstacles to stay there, from getting pregnant at a very young age, to having to drop out because their families are too poor to support them financially.’
With Esme on the trip, what differences and similarities did you notice about the way Ghana and UK teenage girls are treated?
TH: ‘For me it highlighted that teenage girls everywhere are the same! They laugh a lot, love their friends, want to enjoy life and they all have dreams and hopes for their futures. But for so many, they won’t get a chance to realise those dreams and actually their lives will be very hard. In the region we visited, it’s traditional for girls to fetch water for the family very early every morning, and often they are ambushed and raped, which is appalling. This left us questioning why don’t boys fetch the water, but culturally these things can take a long time to change. And imagine the difference having a tap in their village would make. For Esme, the trip also highlighted how much she and her friends take their education for granted and how lucky they are to have so many years ahead of them. Many of the girls we met were so passionate about learning and, with support from their families, their communities and NGO projects like the ones Plan have introduced, they are really making progress.’
What was the highlight of your visit to Ghana?
TH: ‘Definitely meeting the girls and in particular, Rhoda, who was the same age as Esme and lived in a very small remote village with her grandmother, while her mother Sefia works away to earn enough money to support them. Each female generation of this family has strived to give the next a better future and Rhoda was incredibly proud of her beautifully neat school books. We also met 25-year old Lillipearl in the capital Accra, who attended a school supported by Plan, and is now a business journalist. To see that it is possible for these girls to achieve their dreams is fantastic.’
Why should Marie Claire readers support Plan International UK?
TH: ‘Because these girls and children are the future, and they deserve a decent chance at life – education and an end to gender-based violence is crucial. Since our trip, I now sponsor a girl in Ghana (you can choose the country) and – even though she is a long way away – receiving updates and information from Plan about her makes it real and meaningful.’
How can Marie Claire Edit shoppers support Plan International UK?
TH: ‘For starters, anything you buy via the shopping selections here on the Marie Claire Edit will ensure a donation is made to Plan. But you can also sponsor a child or make a donation via these links: Sponsor A Child here, Act for Girls here and Donate here or, visit plan-uk.org for further information on how to make a difference.’
(Trish is pictured top, second from right; her daughter, Esme, is second from left)