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Dubai: Dubai Cares, part of the Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, has launched a four-year programme in Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua in partnership with Global Fund for Children, a US-based non-profit organisation.

The $2 million (Dh7.35 million) programme called ‘Empowering Adolescent Girls’ is expected to benefit around 20,000 young girls in the three countries.

The programme focuses on the capacity-building of 18 girl-led grassroots organisations and support activities centred on promoting gender equality and advancing the rights of girls in the spheres of education, youth empowerment and equitable access to employment opportunities, as well as freedom from violence and exploitation.

The programme also aims to identify local partners who have already made a strong commitment to a gender strategy that elevates the voice and opportunities of adolescent girls.

Annina Mattsson, programmes director at Dubai Cares, said: “Many adolescent girls in rural parts of Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua face severe challenges stemming from gender inequality and discrimination, including a lack of access to quality education, poor access to health services and information, and insufficient protection from violence. Unfortunately, this gender gap continues to impede future development. Through this Dubai Cares-funded programme in partnership with the Global Fund for Children, we hope to eliminate the barriers that inhibit young girls from exercising their human rights and realising their true potential and to subsequently shape a positive future for their families and communities.”

Kimberly McClain, regional programme director-Americas, Global Fund for Children, said: “We are extremely pleased to announce this new partnership with Dubai Cares. The Empowering Adolescent Girls initiative represents an important investment in grassroots organisations that serve and empower adolescent girls in Central America. This new initiative builds upon 20 years of GFC partnerships that have catalysed social change and opened up new opportunities for adolescents and youth across Latin America. Adolescent girls in Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua navigate unique challenges on the path to adulthood, from education cut short by economic hardship, to violence from gangs and peers, and insufficient protection against early marriage and pregnancy. All the while, their potential to contribute as young leaders to the development of their communities is so much greater than the opportunities they are currently given.”