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She Leads

The She Leads programme fights for the rights, leadership and agency of girls and young women (GYW). It is an initiative for and by girls and young women: because they have the right to speak and decide for themselves. She Leads brings together child rights organisations, feminist/women’s rights organisations, and GYW-led groups in a joint effort to increase sustained influence of girls and young women on decision-making and the transformation of gender norms in formal and informal institutions.

She leads

Lucia Montes

Senior project manager - She Leads

"Girls and young women have the right to be heard in decisions that affect their lives. Their perspectives should be taken seriously. She Leads supports young advocates in their claim for a space in decision making." You can reach out to Lucia via l.montes@tdh.nl.


Worldwide we are witnessing a rise in activism led by girls and young women (GYW) that challenges gender inequality, exclusion, and injustice. Every day, courageous girls and young women are on the frontlines, demanding change and their right to be included. The increase of their involvement in social activism accounts for many breakthroughs across the globe.

Yet activism of GYW remains under-resourced. Discriminatory gender and age related social norms restrict civic space or even deny girls and young women access. This limits their right to organise freely, voice their opinions, and participate meaningfully in social and political life, both online and offline.

Many African and Middle Eastern governments exclude girls and young women’s voices from the political domain, and with the worldwide trend of closing and changing civic space, it becomes harder for girls and young women to express opinions, assemble and associate.

Youth activist Esther (23) from Sierra Leone: “Being a girl in this world is a challenge. But as activists, we are able to face them.”


She Leads is a five-year joint programme of Plan International Netherlands, Defence for Children - ECPAT the Netherlands (DCI-ECPAT), African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET), and Terre des Hommes Netherlands (TdH NL), in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands. 

The She Leads consortium unites child rights organisations, feminist/women’s rights organisations and groups led by Girls and Young Women. The consortium works together with local partners in Lebanon, Jordan, Mali, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya and on regional and global level.

The She Leads programme objective is to increase sustained influence of girls and young women on decision-making and the transformation of gender norms in formal and informal institutions.

Three interrelated outcomes are needed to achieve this objective: 

  1. Collective GYW action and activism in a gender-responsive civil society
  2. Increased acceptance of positive social gender norms
  3. Political institutions at all levels enable full and meaningful participation of GYW in decision-making.

At the heart of our partnership is the shared belief that girls and young women should make their own decisions on matters that affect their lives now and in the future. The programme leads by example: the focus and lobbying objectives are determined by girls and young women themselves. Moreover, in each programme country a young woman is at the helm as network coordinator.

Latest news

March 6th, 2024

Ethiopian Semaria (21) goes to the UN: “I want to make a difference in the world”

Speaking as She Leads advocate before the United Nations. That dream is coming true for 21-year-old Semaria fr…

February 1st, 2024

The Global Research Agenda

On February 1 2024, the Terre des Hommes Netherlands Global Research Agenda was launched, which will guide our…

December 7th, 2023

She Leads Mid-Term Review (2023)

The She Leads Mid-Term Review is an assessment of the progress of She Leads as we are halfway our 5-year progr…

October 16th, 2023

A Dedicated Male Champion Advocating for Girls' Rights in Eastern Uganda

In the heart of Kigulu village in Eastern Uganda, Abudu embarked on a journey of becoming a champion for girls…

August 7th, 2023

Empowered advocate and leader: Doreen's Journey with She Leads

As a passionate advocate for Girls and Young Women's rights, Doreen joined the She Leads programme, where she…

June 22nd, 2023

A historic She Leads learning event

A historic She Leads learning event that fostered insightful discussions, reflections, and valuable learnings…

March 30th, 2023

The Great Ethiopian Run

The She Leads team in Ethiopia participated in the Great Ethiopian Run on 26th March 2023 under the theme ´Wom…

March 8th, 2023

She Leads activists plead for digital opportunities at UN in New York

Give girls the same opportunities as boys, even when it comes to digital accessibility. This is the message of…

December 7th, 2022

Policy Briefs on Meaningful GYW engagement and advancement of Gender Equality

The policy briefs highlight progress,challenges and recommendations in advancing gender equality and strengthe…

October 29th, 2021

Regional Profile 2021 - Africa

For over 50 years, Terre des Hommes Netherlands has worked in Africa, both in structural aid and in humanitari…

June 27th, 2019

Annual report 2018

Thanks to your support, in 2018 we were able to work on tackling child labor in the mica mines in India, child…

The 10 Guiding Principles of She Leads

  1. Human Rights, Gender Equality and Social Justice are at the core of our work and our joint programme
  2. Inclusiveness, intersectionality and embracing diversity: non-discrimination and particular inclusion of those GYW who are usually marginalised in society
  3. Addressing power inequalities in the contexts we work in and within our consortium
  4. Voices of girls and young women are central to the She Leads programme, in design and implementation
  5. Respect for autonomy of girl-led and youth-led organisations
  6. Self-care and collective well-being is key, as our social change work is demanding and takes its toll, especially on young people involved
  7. Equal partnership at the different levels of our consortium
  8. Collective accountability and transparency to each other and to our donor
  9. Decentralised decision-making: sharing power and decision-making space, valuing each opinion, each expertise and each idea
  10. Each partner adds its unique value to our collaboration, no matter where we are based, how big or small our organisations are, whether we are adult- or GYW-led entities

Our strategies

The She Leads consortium is committed to promoting girls and young women’s rights to engage in public decision-making and to freely express themselves and have their voices heard. To make this happen, six key strategies have been prioritised:

  • Fund and resource girl-led/young feminist organising, collective action and activism
  • Data-driven and evidence-based advocacy & research
  • Catalyse the growth and strength of social movements and collective action for girls rights
  • Media influencing & advocacy
  • Advocate for girls’ access to international institutions and human rights mechanisms
  • Capacity strengthening support and joint learning between civil society organisations (CSOs), girl-led groups and young feminist organisations
Read more about Girls Empowerment

She Leads milestones

She Leads is aimed at increasing the influence of girls and young women in decision-making and the transformation of gender norms in formal and informal institutions. This includes the participation and leadership of GYW in local and national political institutions, in regional and international institutions such as the United Nations Human Rights Council or the African Union, and also in civil society networks and organisations.

Global Girls and Young Women Board
She Leads activists at the HRC50
Global and regional advocacy platforms
Local systemic change
Girls & Young Women festivals
Attitude change
Media engagement
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