18-year-old Gaby lives with her mom, dad and four brothers in the community of La Unión, Honduras. A soccer player and avid churchgoer, she’s also known for being rebellious, stubborn and independent.

“Being the only girl has been difficult,” Gaby shares.  “My mom wakes me up early. But my brothers get to sleep all day.”

It’s tough to be a girl in Honduras. The statistics paint a bleak picture, which includes a high rate of violence against women, few job prospects and lack of access to secondary education and basic health services. All these factors contribute to unplanned pregnancies in Honduras, which has one of the highest rates in Central America. The road to accessing higher education and climbing out of poverty is long and uncertain for adolescent girls, who must balance their dreams against pressures from their peers, family and society. Despite these challenges, girls in Honduras also represent a powerful force for change, and teaching girls about their health and wellbeing has been proven as a critical link to ending poverty.

While she faces hardships at home, Gaby finds acceptance within her community from the Chicas en Conexión project, run by the Pan American Social Marketing Organization (PASMO), PSI’s network member in Latin America. Funded by the Summit Foundation, this project targeted girls aged 10 to 19 and aimed to disseminate important information related to gender equality, sexual and reproductive health, self-esteem and life planning—allowing them to take the reins of their own lives.

“The opportunity to surround myself with other girls and the chance to continue learning motivated me to participate in [Chicas en Conexión],” Gaby explained. “I wasn’t able to do this before.”

Read the full article about Chicas en Conexión by Emma Halper at PSI.