Hi Mike, Great question. Meaningful engagement of government stakeholders is one of the greatest challenges that the program faces and not a challenge that can be overcome right away. The program explicitly addresses the underlying structural and political issues that hinder girls to be safe in cities, as well as aims to transform the pervasive social and cultural norms that allow for unequal power dynamics, gender based discrimination and violence. This is long term change that we’re aiming to make to change the enabling environment. Our external evaluation of four pilot cities in 2017 noted reported and observed changes in attitudes and behaviors among many of the program stakeholders (for example, parents, local authorities, and transport staff) though there is still a long way to go toward equality.
Some of our activities specifically facilitate engagement between girls and local government as a starting point for more immediate outcomes and we’ve seen some successes. Plan International is implementing the program model in Hanoi, Vietnam. There, we facilitated an opportunity for girl program participants to present their urban design ideas to influential people, including the Vice Chair of Dong Anh District People’s Committee and others representing different branches of local government. The Vice Chair publicly committed to implementing some of the suggestions the girls had made, including installing more street lights and building a fence around a deep canal that runs through the community. Some of these changes, such as the addition of lighting in a street tunnel, have already occurred.
Hi Temba! Throughout the project, we engage stakeholders at every level: individual participants, their families, teachers, government officials, etc. That way, once our project finishes its operations, new infrastructure, policy, and motivation is built into their community that can be easily replicated and sustained.