what we do
Soy niña, soy importante is an initiative of Fundación Tropicalia that 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.
What began as a summer camp in 2013, today Soy niña, soy importante also includes an at-home program and spearheads activism and awareness campaigns in Dominican Republic, with a geographic focus in the municipality of Miches in the El Seibo Province.
- 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.