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Hosting Plan International UK's Gala Dinner

Hosting Plan International UK's Gala Dinner

If you don’t have a voice, what do you have?

No choice. No authority. No control over your own life.

I hosted Plan International UK’s Gala Dinner at the Leadenhall building last night to use my voice for girls who don’t have one. Guests included Eliza, Julia Bradbury and John Caird – all showing their support for the plight of girls around the world. We were treated to a performance by Eliza and friends, and together we raised an incredible £70,000 for Plan International UK’s work to combat issues that hold girls back from having a say on their own future – such as child marriage, FGM, violence, discrimination and limited access to education.

Katherine Ryan presents Plan International UK's Gala Dinner

Born in Canada and living in the UK, I’ve never felt limited as a woman and was told I could be anything I wanted to be. Had I been born in a developing country it might have been very different. Every two seconds a girl is forced to marry and one in three* girls and women are subjected to sexual or physical violence. As a TV comedian, I use my voice to earn a living, so it’s hard to imagine a life where I wouldn’t even have a say over my own future, simply because I was born a girl – the two worlds seem so far apart right now.

Last night, as the sun set,  glowing up London’s famous skyline, the sun was also setting in Liberia, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Mali, Guinea- Bissau, Ghana and Togo. Although these countries couldn’t seem further away from us in England, the stories at the Gala Dinner made the reality of what girls in these countries are facing seem much closer to home.

Eliza performing at Plan International UK Gala dinner

In Sierra Leone, 16-year-old Betty is caring for her baby. She became pregnant after being abused by a teacher at her school. But Plan International is working with Betty’s community to form welfare groups, which aim to educate children about their rights and prevent abuses like this.

Thankfully, the work that Plan International UK does is preventing girls from falling into the same stereotypes. In Ghana, 15-year-old Latifa is tucked up in bed, looking forward to school the next day. She paid for her own school fees and materials after joining a Plan International Youth Savings Group. Latifa dreams of being a doctor.

Katherine trials our new virtual reality film at the Gala Dinner
Katherine giving our virtual reality experience a whirl

Plan International UK is improving the lives of millions of girls like Betty and Latifa and the funds raised from the evening will help to support many more girls, and give them what they need to get the best out of life.

Your voice is your most precious gift and it should be used as a gift because not every girl has one.

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