Girls Advocacy Alliance

Girl's Advocacy Alliance Terre des Hommes

The Girls Advocacy Alliance focuses on combating violence against girls and young women and increasing their economic participation in developing countries. Violence and economic exclusion are closely linked. Girls massively drop out of secondary and vocational education, especially due to child marriage, sexual violence, trafficking and the worst forms of child labour. Their chance to ever get a 'decent' job is minimal. And vice-versa; without income and independence, they are more vulnerable to violence.




A 13-year-old Ethiopian girl who is forced to drop out of school and marry a 39-year-old man and then becomes pregnant. The 12-year-old child domestic worker Amani who is exploited by a Kenyan family where she is being sexually abused. The Cambodian Chan who has been trafficked by a broker to Malaysia using a fake ID, where she is forced to work as a maid. These are only three examples of the many girls from developing countries who do not go to school to improve their future prospects, but are victims of violence and economic exclusion.

The Girls Advocacy Alliance is an initiative of Plan Netherlands, Defence for Children Netherlands-ECPAT and Terre des Hommes Netherlands. The alliance tackles violence against girls and young women and realises (economic) opportunities for them through lobbying and advocacy. Starting January 2016 the alliance is implementing a five-year programme funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The entire programme covers ten countries. Terre des Hommes Netherlands is participating in six countries.


The Girls Advocacy Alliance programme has explicated four strategic objectives to eliminate violence against and economic exclusion of girls and young women, focusing on four main actors:

  • by ensuring that key leaders (traditional, religious, community) and role models of the local community promote norms and values which positively advance girls and encourage their development in society. These key leaders and role models act as champions of change. 
  • by influencing civil society organisations and networks so that they advocate for the active implementation of policies that challenge girls’ and women’s economic exclusion and gender based violence, while coordinating their interventions.
  • by getting the corporate sector committed to the elimination of violence against girls in their supply chain. The corporate sector provides access to work,  safer workplaces, better working conditions for girls and young women and supports the transition from school to work for girls.
  • by advocating for more effective implementation of legislation and public policies to protect girls and young women

What we do

The Girls Advocacy Alliance is addressing gender based violence and economic exclusion of girls and young women in the following ways:

  • Capacity building of civil society organisations, specifically organisations focusing on young women, to advocate and sensitise government officials, the corporate sector as well as the general public.
  • These civil society organisations conduct advocacy campaigns in their own countries, as well as lobby regional bodies such as the African Union.
  • Terre des Hommes Netherlands advocates in the Netherlands, specifically regarding enforcement of international legislature.


Results in 2018

In total, more than 750 improvements were reported in 2018. See below some examples of progress:

  • In the Philippines, GAA's lobbying activities with local governments (e.g. municipalities and provinces) have led to the creation of new bodies such as the Council for the Protection of Children and the Office against Violence against Women. Local authorities have improved their referral mechanisms, for example for violence against women. A policy paper has also been written for all local authorities on how to combat trafficking and violence against women and children. 
  • In Kenya, following intensive lobbying, a new national action plan has been adopted by the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection. The plan is aimed at combating commercial sexual exploitation of children. This new plan will help GAA achieve the goals of the GAA programme and sexual commercial exploitation in Kenya.
  • In Uganda, the GAA lobby contributed to a new mining and mineral extraction policy. The use of child labour is now prohibited.
  • In Ethiopia, with the support of GAA, companies have drawn up codes of conduct on decent work. In addition, companies have started to open up jobs for young women who have been victims of gender violence and sexual exploitation.  
  • In Bangladesh, legislative proposals have been developed at national level, with the active contribution of GAA. The laws deal with child marriages, child protection and human trafficking. The government adopted the National Plan against Trafficking in Human Beings and made funds available for this purpose.  
  • In India, efforts to tackle child marriages have been stepped up in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. An Andhra Pradesh, for example, has passed an important law against 'buying sexual services'.


Results 2017

  • In Ethiopia, the Standing Committee on Women’s Affairs of the Amhara Region Council and regional law enforcement agencies together assessed the gaps in policies and practices on gender-based violence and commercial sexual exploitation of girls and young women. The Girls Advocacy Alliance (GAA) played a key role in the instigation of the consultations and provided training for Council members.
  • In the Philippines, GAA partners successfully engaged with Local Governance Units (LGUs) and the regional Interagency Council for the formalisation of Child’s Rights Protection Units (CRPU) and the allocation of budget for CRPU activities and operations. GAA partners trained and supported these multi-disciplinary networks. Networks which were composed of representatives of the Philippine National Police and the Department of Education, the Municipal Social Welfare Department Officer and a Health Officer.
  • In Ghana, collaboration and alignment at the level of key stakeholders involved in child protection in Upper Western and Eastern regions has improved. The Department of Gender, the Commission on Human Rights & Administrative Justice , the Department of Social Welfare, Domestic Violence and Victims Support Units  of the Ghana Police Service and CSOs now effectively work together on handling cases of sexual abuse and other forms of child abuse.
  • At the regional level in Asia, GAA partners contributed to the adoption by the South Asia Initiative to End Violence against Children (SAIEVAC) of the regional strategy on commercial sexual exploitation of children, including online safety and prevention of sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism (SECTT). This regional strategy will be incorporated into the overall five year work plan of SAIEVAC.
  • In Africa, GAA partners and other CSOs successfully advocated the African Union (AU), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and East African Community (EAC) for the adoption of monitoring mechanisms on gender based violence and economic exclusion. During the 61st session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW61), they moreover pushed for the recognition of economic empowerment of girls and young women as a key success factor for the AU Agenda 2063, the AU theme for 2017 ‘Harnessing the demographic dividend through investments in youth’ as well as the SDGs.
  • At the international level, the GAA pushed for (stronger) incorporation of girls’ rights and GAA themes by human rights mechanisms and bodies, notably the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva and UN Women in New York. GAA input and facilitation contributed, among other changes, to the selection of gender as a cross-cutting issue by the working group on Violence of Child Rights Connect5, the acknowledgement of gender based violence and gender equality in the General Recommendations of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). This includes 20 recommendations raised by GAA partners during the Periodic Review of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in Kenya.


  • For 2017, Alliance Program Team (APT) and local partners observed over 400 signs of change at the level of the key stakeholders of their joint GAA programmes, to which they assessed their interventions as a plausible contribution. Almost half of these signs were noted at the level of governments and intergovernmental agencies (30% and 17%, respectively), followed by changes at the level of community leaders and the general public (27%). Positive changes were also initiated or endorsed by CSOs (14%). A slightly smaller number of changes, finally, was observed for the private sector (11%).
  • Most of the signs of changes reported indicate improvements in the effectiveness of the implementation and follow-up of existing laws, regulations and policies (52%), notably by community leaders and the general public, and by government actors. There were also examples of improved practices by private sector actors and by CSOs.
  • A slightly smaller share of signs relates to changes in agenda setting (41%) - the first stage of change. In this stage public and political attention to certain issues or problems is generated. Most of these signs involve increased priority for issues of gender based violence and economic exclusion on the part of government agencies. There was also ample evidence of changes initiated or endorsed by community leaders, affecting awareness and attitudes of the general public. Increased priority for GAA issues was also noted at the level of CSOs, and - to a lesser extent - private sector actors.
  • According to the Alliance Program Team, adoption or revision of laws and policies as an outcome of the programme occurred somewhat less often in 2017 (7%). Practically all observed cases of policy change relate to adoption or revision of laws and policies by government agencies and by community leaders (customary laws or by-laws). Some examples were also noted for policy changes by private sector agencies.

Per Pathway/Sector (Communities, CSOs, Government and Private Sector)

  • The outcome signs reported by the Alliance Program Team indicate small yet important changes at the level of religious and traditional leaders, notably on gender based violence. These leaders play a key role in raising awareness on harmful social norms and practices in communities, and in mobilising their constituencies. Through umbrella organisations, networks or platforms, local and traditional leaders moreover have important influence at regional and even national levels. Especially in Africa, local leaders also have a key role in the drafting, ratification and enforcement of bye-laws.
  • There was little evidence of policy changes at the level of CSOs as an outcome of the programme, but quite a few changes were noted towards active and more effective lobby and advocacy on girls’ and young women’s issues by CSOs.
  • There was little evidence of policy changes at the level of CSOs as an outcome of the programme, but quite a few changes were noted towards active and more effective lobby and advocacy on girls’ and young women’s issues by CSOs. In many cases, GAA support helped CSOs to strengthen collaboration, alignment and networking.
  • In various countries, GAA partners successfully engaged with local companies to discuss gender based violence and women’s economic empowerment, and more specifically the position of (young) women in their businesses and the role of the private sector in addressing risks and abuses.


Results 2016

Dramatic changes in law and legislation, norms and values take time. However, a number of signs have been identified of significant positive changes as a result of, amongst other things, GAA activities. Some results:

  • GAA-partners talked with local, traditional and religious leaders to get gender related violence and economic exclusion higher on the agenda; for example in Northern Gondar in Ethiopia religious leaders now pay attention to the risks of child trafficking during their services churches and mosques.
  • There are many local organisations and (youth) groups who, with support of GAA partners, have risen to action to create more support for the rights and position of girls and young women; Children’s rights activists in Cebu in the Philippines developed a joint action plan and launched a joint Facebook page and chat group and in Nairobi, Kenya 35 workgroups now actively work together to prevent sexual violence.
  • Government agencies and civil society organizations paid more attention to gender related violence and economic exclusion; the Ugandan government for example, developed a national policy and action plan to ban gender-related violence. There was a media strategy too, in collaboration with the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development.
  • Some companies already seem to attach more importance to these topics. Relations with contacts with companies and businesses have developed and nourished; in the city of Ormoc on the Philippines 21 companies have developed rules and policies to provide equal opportunities to female employers, and to protect them better against gender related violence.
  • Positive changes in legislation and policies have been applied, both by local leaders and public authorities; the Liberian government has invited GAA partners to contribute to the formulation of a national policy on child protection and children’s rights and in Telfetit in Ethiopia a local regulation has been amended and extended with articles on child marriages and female circumcision.
  • There are examples of improved implementation and follow-up of existing laws and policy; in Ethiopia, anti HTP (Harmful Traditional Practices) committees have been established, consisting of teachers, police officers and judicial officers.
  • The Girls Advocacy Alliance challenges gender related violence and economic exclusion in international fora too; partly thanks to the efforts of GAA partners the African Union called on Member States to submit action plans to combat child marriages and strengthening of leadership qualities of girls and young women.