Understanding the Need That Fuels Our Change Making

Written by Brianna Canty

Girls Soccer Worldwide has been helping young girls in Paraguay for over seven years, providing access to sports, funds for education, and leadership opportunities to empower them to rise out of poverty. Our mission has grown over time, with a greater emphasis now on supporting the “whole girl” by meeting her where she is at. We are leading with love, being brave, and focusing on community.

This may look different for every girl and family we help in Paraguay. Each need, each child or young woman, is different. For many, that may mean working with our Ambassadors in Paraguay to build them a home or a bathroom. It might also include a fully-funded or partial scholarship that covers her student lunch account, to ensure she has something to eat, and covers the cost of hygiene items, school supplies, and uniforms. One of the very first things we did as an organization in 2017 was build Maria, now our program manager in Paraguay, a bathroom. Just last week, Walter and Maria were on the ground in Paraguay to help build a home for one of our young Ambassadors.

It’s never just been about soccer.

It’s been about change.

There’s More to It

Our co-founders, Walter and Pamela, realized that providing an equal playing field or offering leadership workshops could only do so much if that young girl was hungry, felt unsafe, or didn’t have a roof over her head. The core mission of GSWW still addresses an essential and important gap for young girls in both Paraguay and the Bay Area. But now, there is more to it. This is why our goals have expanded, our scope has grown. There is a bigger need we see and we feel we can do a small part to help.

We have always known, as Walter said on Instagram Live last week, that “girls need help in many ways.” If GSWW can “give them privacy, give them shelter”, can give that girl a space where she “can be safe, where she can study, where she can sleep,” then we are living up to our promise. Our mission today is to show up in love and meet the girls, in both the Bay Area and Paraguay, where they are at. Doing more has become “the essence of who we are as an organization,” Pamela added.

The Reality

There’s a lot of growth, and change, on the horizon for us at GSWW. We think it’s important to stop for a minute and come to you—our community, our readers, our fellow dreamers—with a dose of reality. A quick, sobering reminder.

The poverty rate, lack of education, lack of opportunity, and minimal healthcare in Coronel Bogado is shared by many rural communities across Paraguay. Understanding the context in which these young women, these communities, exist is crucial to understanding why we do what we do.

So, this blog is going to be a little different—but different in a good way. Instead of just storytelling, we’re coming to you with context, with the facts and figures that drive our organization. We’re naming the barriers so you can help us break them, naming the needs so you can help us nullify them. These statistics shed light on our efforts, clarify and explain our impact.

There are four areas that we want to highlight: poverty (and how it relates to housing and hunger), healthcare, the economy, and education. We’ve pulled this information from UN Women Americas and the Caribbean, the Gender Equality Observatory, and the Borgen Project. If you’d like to learn more, all the websites and resources we used can be found at the links at the bottom of this page.

You can’t change what you don’t know and what you don’t recognize–so come join us in learning and knowing and recognizing. By doing this, we can make an impact together.



  • 22.6% of the population live in poverty and 10.5% live in extreme poverty (UN Women).

  • Inadequate housing affects nearly half the country’s population, with 40% of families in urban areas and over 50% of families in rural areas living in inadequate housing (Borgen Project).

  • Around 45% of the children in Paraguay are at risk of malnutrition or hunger (Borgen Project).


  • Only 30% of available healthcare workers are dedicated to treating the 70% of the population that lives outside the capital city of Paraguay, Asunción. This severely limits coverage and restricts access to healthcare for rural areas (Borgen Project).

  • Maternal and infant mortality rates in Paraguay rank third-highest in all of South America, with maternal mortality rates higher in rural areas due to lack of access to healthcare (Borgen Project).

The Economy

  • Men make on average 30 cents more than women in the formal sector (UN Report).

  • Women, without a job outside the home, spend 36.7 hours per week on unpaid work (i.e. household chores, childcare, etc.) (Gender Equality Observatory).

  • 35.3% of rural women ages 15 and over have no income of their own (Gender Equality Observatory).


  • Many girls stop attending school due to marriage and having children. In rural areas with high poverty, 35% of young girls are married before the age of 18 and around 12% of girls ages 15-19 are mothers (Borgen Project).

  • Just over 60% of girls in Paraguay attend secondary school, a 25% drop from primary school. The drop is associated with: “[the children’s] families need them to bring in extra income, there are no schools in their area or the cost of uniforms, textbooks and supplies is simply too much.” (Borgen Project).

These numbers are not just black-and-white figures; these numbers have faces, names, and histories. Inadequate housing, poverty, and hunger are realities our Ambassadors have faced. The lack of education, healthcare, and opportunity are mountains that they are still climbing. This is the world that girls, young women, and mothers in Paraguay have to contend with everyday.

If you jumped past those numbers, this is your reminder to go back and reread them. For many, they may seem like a world away. And that’s all the more reason to pay attention to them. Ultimately, we wanted to take the time and share this information so that you know what we are fighting for and why we are fighting for it.

Our Promise, Again

Coronel Bogado, Paraguay holds a special place in our hearts. Walter made a promise to that community over 25 years ago, vowing to give back to the people who had welcomed him with open arms, who had greeted him with generosity, love, and kindness. GSWW is that promise fulfilled.

We know that there are needs all over the world, needs like those of Coronel Bogado. But, Coronel Bogado was our one. That’s where we started, that’s where we showed up in love. We worked on changing our one—helping young women in Paraguay rise out of poverty, finish their education, and become voices in their communities to create change from within—because we know when we change one, we change thousands.

After Paraguay, GSWW can grow and expand to help other communities, cities, and countries. We can change thousands. If we lead with love, and meet these girls where they are at, we can change the world.

We’re not done.

We’re only just beginning.

Change One.
Change Thousands.
Powered by
Girls Soccer Worldwide!


UN Women Americas and the Caribbean Homepage
UN Women: Paraguay
Current Fight for Gender Equality (UN Women)
UN Report on Paraguay
The Borgen Project Homepage
The Borgen Project: Healthcare, Women and Education, Poverty Hunger
Gender Equality Observatory for Latin America and the Caribbean: Paraguay

To learn more about Girls Soccer Worldwide and what we do, click here.

  1. […] Blog: “Understanding the Need That Fuels Our Change Making”For more information on our Grassroots Programs: Bay Area/Livermore Website, International WebsiteTo […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

@ girlssoccerworldwide

@ girlssoccerworldwide

USA 501(c)(3) non-profit organization 
EIN (82-1404805)    

PO BOX 219, Livermore, CA 94551



Terms and Privacy Policy

©2024 Girls Soccer Worldwide All rights reserved