Programme Speaker – Rebecca Lewin, Plan International

Rebecca Lewin addressed Conference with the Strapline ‘ Girls Can’ with much of her presentation giving some startling facts about the current status of girls worldwide and the role she undertakes working for Plan International. The organisation is an independent development and humanitarian charity that advances children’s rights and equality for girls with the emphasis on tackling the root causes of the challenges facing girls and all vulnerable children worldwide.

Unassumingly, Rebecca spoke about her academic background in astrophysics and after university deciding on a career working with a number of charities. Her current role is Director of Logistics and Procurement with responsibility for 3,500 vehicles; 600 properties; 400 sites; in 52 countries. Added to these challenges she also is responsible for 2,000 staff.

She urged Soroptimists to be proactive on the Annual International Day of the Girl on October 11th (#girlstakeover) and gave examples of individual girls taking International leads for the day to highlight gender equality issues. In 2017 these included Deputy Secretary General at the UN and with Justin Trudeau PM Canada. Rebecca constantly referred to Sustainable Development Goal 5 – gender equality and how we as an organisation should strive to address these issues in our project work.

A graphic example of her work involved arriving in Nepal immediately after the Earthquake with huge loss of life and homelessness. Using the humanitarian focus of getting back to ‘normal’ as quickly as possible,the organisation provided temporary shelters, basic clothing, cooking facilities and food items. Her satisfaction was knowing they had provided shelter for a 100,000 people- a logistical nightmare ‘starting from scratch’ but achievable. Rebecca marvelled at the physical power of the women living near Mt Everest who could carry extremely heavy backpacks containing vital supplies.She showed photos of Door Frames only standing after the Earthquake remarking that it was the safest to stand when these occur!

In ending Rebecca left us with these significant International facts:

  • 777,000 girls each year give birth when age 10-14 years of age
  • 15 million primary school age children never enter school annually
  • 65 million girls never access school( which is 35 million more than boys) *If a mother can read & write a child is 50% more likely to survive beyond age 5yrs

I am left with so much I would liked to have asked Rebecca about her work but left in awe of a person who can definitely ‘Step Up, Lead the Way’

Read more about Rebecca Lewin.

Take a look at Plan International.

Margaret Molyneux
SI Leigh & District
President – South Lancashire Region