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Girls' Impact Fund

Founded by the Women's Network

The Girls' Impact Fund

Save the Children believes in a world where every girl has the power to determine her own future.

Founded by our Women's Network, the Girls’ Impact Fund paves the way for a new approach to how we support girls, channelling specific funding and activities designed for, and with, girls.

The Girls’ Impact Fund will prioritise approaches that are led by girls, and which help them to become more empowered. We’ll listen to girls about their lived experiences and the challenges they face, and work with them to make sure their needs come first.

As part of the initiative, we’ll ensure resources are held by girls and local organisations – supporting our efforts towards a locally-led approach and more equitable partnerships. We’ll also use funding to make sure girls’ empowerment and gender equality are further embedded into our existing and new programmes, support advocacy led by girls to push for the change they want to see, and build the capacity and resource required to do this work.

Ria, playing cricket in Nepal

Meet 16-year-old Ria*, youth campaigner from Nepal. Save the Children and its local partner, Sabal Nepal, formed the first girls' cricket team to combat child marriage. Ria* not only started playing cricket but also became the chairperson of her Child Club: a group of young campaigners set up by Save the Children. Hear from Ria* in her own words.

*Name changed to protect identity.

Investing in girl leaders

As we look to the future, the Girls’ Impact Fund will continue to play a critical role in empowering girls and building and investing in girls’ leadership through girl-led networks. These networks support girls to advocate for their own rights and bring their lived experience to government and community decision-making, forming the beginning of the next generation of women leaders.

The world is waking up to the need to invest in local women’s organisations and to support girls’ participation in decision-making, but too few are providing funding to match their rhetoric. Girls’ networks are ready and waiting to commit their time, expertise, and energy to working towards gender equality, so we will help to provide much-needed seed-funding and technical support.

With the Girls’ Impact Fund, we can provide the investment that girl activists need to grow their organisations, support one another, and make their voices heard driving collective impact.


Maryam, Save the Children Girl Champion for Nigeria

“Never be afraid to speak up for what you stand for.

You are already a role model for a lot of girls because of your advocacy and I encourage you to do more. We want to see a world where the rights of girls are being protected and you are very important for that fight to be effective.” 

Maryam, Save the Children Girl Champion


Working hand in hand with Care and Plan International on a gender analysis across South Sudan, we’ll partner with two local women’s rights organisations to explore the impacts of ongoing inequalities on girls’ lives and opportunities. This evidence will inform a deeper understanding of the barriers that stand in the way of girls’ realising their rights to health, education and safety and identify practical, transformative solutions. 

Through the research we will collect data and stories from girls and their families and help build a valuable evidence-base for our work and that of our partners at the local and global levels.

We’ll share our findings from the analysis with a range of decision-makers, including education partners, other donors, the United Nations and South Sudanese Ministries. This will allow us, and key national and international powerholders, to accelerate progress for gender equality in South Sudan and beyond.

The Girls’ Impact Fund is supporting the second cycle of the programme “Girls as Drivers of Change” in Uganda. Uganda hosts the third-largest refugee population in the world, and the largest in Africa. In 2022, women and children comprised over 80% of the refugee population, and 10% of girls between 15-19 and 20% of women between 20-24 years have experienced sexual assault, whilst 49% of girls are married by 18. 

Girls as Drivers of Change is broken down into three stages:

  1. The first element of the programme supports the implementation of a curriculum where girls learn how to express their ideas, organise themselves and understand the causes of gender inequality and discrimination, and how they can play a role in changing these attitudes.
  2. In the second element, the girls utilize all the learning and critical thinking skills from the curriculum and apply this in ‘Solutions Labs’ to design bold and ambitious—yet practical and achievable— solutions to address a selected gender inequality issue affecting young girls in their community.
  3. Finally, the girls are then given direct funding to implement their initiatives to end the identified gender issues in their community. This gives girls ownership over their ambitious ideas and supports them to be drivers of change, and can include, but isn’t limited to, community action, advocacy and campaigns and social entrepreneurship. 

We have used money from the Girls’ Impact Fund to fund the programme’s third element, supporting girls to implement their solutions to barriers they face in their lives. This is a critical element of the programme and allows us to provide funding directly to girls – a key pillar of the Girls’ Impact Fund and our girl-led and feminist approach to girls’ empowerment. 

The Girls' Impact Fund is proud to sponsor Global Girlhood Report 2021: Girls’ Rights in Crisis building evidence and research into the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic through a gender lens.

From its outset, the COVID-19 pandemic was more than a devastating global health emergency. Crises—including climate change-driven disasters, past epidemics such as Ebola and Zika Virus, and violent conflict—have long been understood to have disproportionate consequences for women and girls. The COVID-19 crisis is no exception, with early evidence revealing that containment measures and the resulting economic instability have increased girls’ exposure to violence, reduced access to essential services and information, and directly impacted girls’ ability to realise their rights.

The Global Girlhood Report 2021 attempts to enhance our collective understanding of how the predicted impacts of the pandemic have been realised for girls while also recognising how much is still unknown.

The Girls' Impact Fund provided support for the data analysis highlighted in Save the Children’s report The Global Girlhood Report 2022: Girls on the Frontline, which takes stock of progress and challenges toward ending child marriage over the last ten years. The report includes new data analysis on the intersections of conflict and child marriage and highlights the voices of girls who have been displaced and experienced child marriage.

The report identifies nearly 90 million adolescent girls – almost 1 in 5 – are living within 50km of conflict. These girls face higher risk factors for child marriage, including increasing poverty and food shortages, and exposure to other forms of gender-based violence. Our analysis shows that, globally, girls affected by conflict are 20% more likely to marry as children than girls living outside of conflict zones. Girls experience gender-based violence in all conflicts, but gender-based violence and child protection are the least-funded protection priorities in humanitarian crises.

Girls cannot wait for proof in every new conflict – we have the evidence now to plan and fund prevention, mitigation and response services for gender-based violence in every humanitarian response. Girls deserve a future full of possibility.

Girls’ Impact Fund supported the research of Save the Children’s annual Global Girlhood Report: Girls at the centre of the storm - Her planet, her future, her solutions. Each year our report influences policymakers and provides evidence to close the gender data gap ensuring there is more data available on the issues which are affecting women and girls.

This report sheds light on the profound impact of the climate crisis on girls' lives and the important role of gender equality in effective climate action. It highlights that nearly 9 million girls face the dual threat of climate disasters and child marriage each year, with two-thirds of child marriages occurring in regions hit hardest by climate change.

By 2030, the number of girls at risk of these dual threats in the top 10 hotspots will increase by 2.3 million.

In parts of Ethiopia worst hit by drought and food shortages, rates of child marriage rose by 119% in 2022 compared to 2021. Devastating floods in Pakistan in 2022 have since left an estimated 640,000 adolescent girls vulnerable and at increased risk of coercion, gender-based violence and child marriage. A 2020 study found that in Bangladesh, girls aged 11–14 were shown to be twice as likely to marry in years following extreme heat. In Zimbabwe, there have been recent reports of girls initiating their own marriages in the hope of increasing their access to food. Analysis of historical data shows that a 10% increase or decrease in rainfall is associated with a 1% increase in child marriage, globally.

Girls are at the heart of this, yet they are often excluded from national climate planning, with less than 2% of these plans mentioning girls at all. This is why the Girls’ Impact Fund is so important. We’re putting girls’ voices and girl-led advocacy at the heart of our work, so every girl can achieve their dreams.

We’re proud that the Women’s Network and Girls’ Impact Fund are a leading sponsor for the third year in a row of our Global Girlhood report.

In July 2023, Save the Children and local partners Ni Nyampinga and Haguruka worked with an eight girl delegation at the Women Deliver Conference in Kigali, Rwanda. This is the first time the global conference was held in an African country, and this year’s theme was: Spaces, Solidarity, and Solutions. Save the Children was a Leader Sponsor and supported the conference mission to enable inclusive and co-created spaces that foster solidarity for sustainable solutions on gender equality. Through our sponsorship, we worked to uphold the conference objectives to drive collective for gender equality, hold leaders accountable, empower the feminist movement, reframe who leads and creates space.

The girl delegation, supported by the Girls’ Impact Fund, included eight girl advocates aged 15–17 from Malawi, Zambia, Nigeria and Indonesia. The girls were supported with a range of resources to give them the confidence to feel equipped for the event. The conference was an important opportunity to meet and share learnings with other champions for gender equality and put demands to powerful decision-makers from government to the UN, civil society and the private sector. They participated in and co-facilitated breakout groups as part of an event with the Adolescent Girls Investment Plan promoting effective investment in adolescent girls and young feminists. This is the first time we’ve been able to support girls under 18 to attend the conference. One girl from Malawi shared with us how incredible the conference was in her advocacy journey and building her networks.

“Nothing for us without us!” Miriam, a 16-year-old girl from Zambia, along with two of her Rwandan peers sat on a stage of feminist researchers and development experts and proclaimed the importance of genuine participation of children in developing and instituting policies that affect their lives. The girls’ comments during Save the Children’s side event at Women Deliver provided concrete examples of what the conference sought to achieve: catalyse collective action to advance gender equality, hold leaders accountable, empower the feminist movement, and reframe who leads.

During a side event hosted by Save the Children partner Procter and Gamble entitled, “Together We All Lead: A Generation of Action and Impact,” Hasna from Indonesia shared her experiences as part of Save the Children’s “We See Equal” programme. The programme seeks to unlock the potential of women and girls through access to education, business investment and leadership opportunities that ultimately help families, communities and economies thrive.

Three Save the Children girl delegates facilitated roundtable discussions during a side event organised by the Adolescent Girls Investment Plan (AGIP), entitled “Where is the Money? Resourcing Adolescent Girls and Young Feminists.” During the discussions, adolescent girls, young feminist-led organizations, donors, researchers, and civil society organizations identified challenges, innovative solutions, and strategies to make funding more accessible for young feminist-led initiatives.

Save the Children wants the world to see the potential in investing in local women’s organisations and how transformative advocation for girls’ involvement in decision-making can be. When we empower grassroots activists, we provide them with the opportunity to have their voices heard on a global stage and generate more impact.

We ran focus group discussions with girls and young women from Mexico, Nigeria, Kenya, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Kosovo. The discussions helped us to understand girls’ perceptions of what meaningful partnership looks like, to learn what support they would find most helpful, and to develop a model for partnering with girls and girl-led groups in the most equitable way.

Now, we’re making grants to map existing girl-led groups in Nigeria, Yemen, Uganda and Bolivia to partner with them, piloting our partnership principles and funding the groups’ advocacy work.

The Girl-led Movement Building package has also enabled us to win a USD $200,000 grant from LEGO Group for girl-led campaigning in Mexico, Vietnam, Indonesia and China focused on the 'gender play gap' as a launch pad for a larger bid for a $9 million five-year linked programme through the LEGO Foundation to roll out girls' empowerment programming in lower-middle income countries.

In Nigeria, we worked very closely with nine women led/feminist organisations. These organisations were selected based on their mandate working to promote girls' rights and a track record of consistent community engagements with girls and women in the pilot States.

The partnership has highlighted that working in partnership with women and girls led spaces collectively creates avenues for wider coverage, reach and more effective results. The co-lead women activists were responsible for targeting and selecting the girls that participated in the GLMB from diverse backgrounds urban/rural settlements, in school and out-of-school girls. They supported the process of training, capacity building, engaging the girls in mentorship processes, advocacy to key stakeholders in government and different spaces.

The women and girls connected at personal levels and developed creative actions to engage high level stakeholders for positive and lasting changes. They held several politicized events in each of the pilot States which cumulated into round table discussions with high level women stakeholders (Katsina State), press briefing (Yobe State), and held the first ever girls led conference in Abuja – Federal Capital Territory, Nigeria.

In Yemen, we are in partnership with a total of seven girls-led groups. For International Day of the Girl 2023, these groups conducted a number of advocacy initiatives on inclusive education, child marriage, technology-facilitated gender-based violence and were attended by representatives from Yemen Judges’ forum, the Lawyers’ syndicate, human rights activists, journalists, local authorities, parents, teachers and students.

In Uganda, we’re partnering with a diverse group of girls between the ages of 12–19 years old. Community dialogues were held on the causes, dangers, effects and solutions to early marriages and teenage pregnancies reaching over 600 community members. Additionally, there was a presentation about different gender inequality issues affecting girls to mark international events like International Women’s Day and the 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence.

In Bolivia, we’re working in partnership with Munakuy Warmi, which means Charming Woman in Quechua. It’s made up of and led by a group of female activists who focus on stopping violence in digital spaces with a particular focus on gender. Their work focuses on this issue because they’ve witnessed an increase in violence online since COVID-19. Munakuy Warmi were able to accomplish the following:

  • Four training workshops in two different schools for secondary school students led by the young women of Munakuy Warmi on how to stop digital violence prevention issues.
  • Two awareness and training workshops for teachers from the two schools.
  • Two awareness and training workshops for mothers and fathers from the two schools.

Read Save the Children's briefing on Five Ways to Support Girl-Led Movements.

In Sierra Leone, where 30% of girls are married before they turn 18 in 2020, our Ending Child Marriage (ECM) programme, funded by 100 Strong and the Girls’ Impact Fund, has made a real difference to children’s lives by dramatically reducing rates of child marriage and changing societal views.

Sierra Leone is home to 800,000 married girls, the vast majority of whom have one or more children. Adolescent pregnancy and child marriage prevent girls from unlocking their full potential, as girls who are pregnant are not allowed to go to school in Sierra Leone. Pregnancy complications account for a quarter of all deaths of girls aged 15—19 years old in Sierra Leone.

The project plays a pivotal role in amplifying girls’ voices by funding girl-led initiatives at community, district and national levels. We’re supporting 36 Girl Champions advocating against early child marriage and other harmful practices. These Champions, equipped with training in advocacy, communication, safeguarding, and protection, actively participate in all ECM activities, raise awareness of reporting processes and act as role models for other girls in their community.

At the community level, they address issues contributing to child marriage and pregnancy, raise awareness of its negative impacts, and promote adolescent sexual and reproductive health rights. At district and national levels, Girl Champions lead meetings with Paramount Chiefs, Parliamentarians and national stakeholders, advocating for more investment and legislative change to end child marriage.

Through the project, we’ve helped girls prevent forced marriages, ensuring girls are returning to school and empowered to fight for lasting change in their communities. Working with Paramount Chiefs, the programme has led to the passing of a bylaw in Kailahun District against child marriage, and we are working with Parliamentarians, Ministers and the First Lady to pass national legislation. Legislative change against child marriage helps to ensure sustainable systemic change protecting children’s rights.

Communities are reporting a dramatic reduction in child marriages and we have prevented any reported cases of potential child marriage; there are fewer adolescent pregnancies, which often result in early marriage; there has been a reported increase in girls and boys returning to school; and girls are demonstrating resiliency and are feeling more empowered to push back against harmful societal norms.

The pilot project has gone from strength to strength making real change for girls’ lives. We plan to continue working with girls and communities in Kailahun District, and expand the programme across Sierra Leone; continue to work with our partners including the Children’s Forum Network and UNICEF to push for a stand-alone bill prohibiting child marriage to protect girls' rights; and replicate the programme in other countries where there are high rates of child marriage to share learnings and expand its’ life changing impact. 


To donate to the Girls' Impact Fund, or for more details on the Girls' Impact Fund or Women's Network, please contact us below: