WHAT WE DO
Soy niña, soy importante is an initiative developed by Fundación Tropicalia in 2013, and supports at-risk girls with a simple mission: protect their childhood, guide them in making timely life choices, and educate them and their community regarding their rights.
Soy niña, soy importante fulfills its mission via different action areas, including a summer camp, an at-home program, teen empowerment, and activism, which consists of communication campaigns and civic participation, all which are implemented in the Dominican Republic, with a geographic focus on the municipality of Miches in the province of El Seibo.
The Soy niña, soy importante summer camp has been our flagship program since 2013, where the girls of Miches access a fun and safe space where they can simply be girls and dream up their future. Camp activities are recreational and contain transformational messages that challenge girls to believe in themselves, and hone in on their potential, map out a life plan and make timely choices.
The summer camp is held every year during the months of July and August in different schools of the Miches School District 12-04.
SNSI in a Box is a program that delivers the transformational messaging of Soy niña, soy importante directly to our girls’ homes by packaging fun, educational activities in a box.
The thematic boxes contain guides, didactic materials, snacks and surprises so that they can learn while playing from the comfort of their homes. Upon delivering boxes, families and girls receive a brief introduction to its contents, encouraging the participation of the entire family in their girl’s experience.
Our Teen Empowerment initiatives support 13-15 year old girls as they enter the height of their adolescence. We build partnerships and bring resources to Miches that continue to develop girls’ knowledge about their reproductive health, educational opportunities and future planning so that they make timely decisions, like postponing pregnancy or early unions. Most of the girls that participate in our Teen Empowerment initiatives are graduates of our SNSI Camp or SNSI in a Box programs.
Through the Soy niña, soy importante platform, Fundación Tropicalia launches various communications campaigns and encourages civic participation in efforts to: raise awareness regarding the plight of the Dominican girl and woman; actively contribute to the elimination of gender violence and child abuse; and, promote more inclusive communities, in which children, adolescents and women can grow and empower themselves without fear.
In partnership with our allies, our awareness and activism campaigns are centered around calls to action, in which each individual plays a role in protecting women and girls’ rights.
- Teen pregnancy is on the rise. The Dominican Republic has the fifth-highest teen pregnancy rate in Latin America, with 22% of Dominican girls becoming pregnant at least once before their 19th birthday. 26% of obstetric events, that is, deliveries, cesareans and abortions, are of adolescents between 15 and 19 years of age. One in ten girls in Miches is or has been pregnant, making it one of the regions with the most teen pregnancies in the Dominican Republic. The demands of teen motherhood can set young women on a lifelong course of minimal education and underemployment, perpetuating the generational cycle of poverty.
- Dropout rates increase. Impoverished girls and young women who become pregnant face higher risks of health complications related to early pregnancy, and are more likely to dropout of school. According to ENDESA 2013, 14.5% of women who did not attend school in the school year preceding the survey did not do so because they were pregnant, with the highest level of non-attendance in the population aged 15 to 19 (11.6%). In fact, nearly 44% of adolescent dropouts are caused by early pregnancy and 73% of pregnant teenagers reach the 8th grade.
- Child marriages. Dominican Republic ranks first in the region for child marriage, where more than 790,000 girls were in union or married before their 18th birthday. One in five teens between the ages of 15 and 19 is currently married or in civil union with a man at least ten years her senior. In 2017, minor girls represented 36% of all marriages in Dominican Republic. These girls sacrifice important opportunities such as learning, and maturing physically and emotionally. In Miches, 42.7% of families are single-parent where mothers lead the home; and 4.3% of adolescents already live with their husband.
- Victims of violence. The Dominican Republic also ranks third in the region in femicide rates. Dominican girls and women are also victims of sexual abuse, harassment, and gender inequalities. In Miches and surrounding areas around 51% of adolescents revealed having suffered some type of abusive relationship.
"One of my goals as a volunteer is to empower girls to become go-getters, to have a healthy self-esteem, to love themselves, to value themselves, to accept themselves, so that together we can produce the tools they will need to become the empowered women of tomorrow.
Noemi EspinalSNSI 2015 Volunteer, Lucas Guibbes
"Soy niña, soy importante teaches girls to dream, and also provides a space where they receive tools to build that dream.
Leticia LópezSNSI 2015 Volunteer, La Gina
"Having a life project is a kind of coal that fuels the fire, the purpose and passion to achieve some goal, a profession. When we support a girl, who will later be a woman in society, we are opening a channel to help her entire family.