Plan Canada celebrates International Women’s Day with 400 female students

March 8 is International Women’s Day, a day to focus on the issues facing the world’s girls and women and recognize how they affect us all.

To celebrate International Women’s Day, Plan Canada’s Because I am a Girl initiative and the Toronto District School Board’s Young Women on the Move planned a unique, interactive conference for 400 girls, aged 12-16, and their mentors on March 7. Support was also provided by The Centre for Global Education and Taking IT Global.

Highlights

Throughout the day, the students explored and discussed issues facing girls today and heard from a number of inspiring guest speakers and mentors, including Olympic wrestler, Ohenewa Akuffo.

Through the use of technology, girls also had the opportunity to interact with other female students living across Canada and around the world and hear how they identify with being a girl, what barriers they face and how they work to break through them. They spoke with women like Marwa in Yemen, who helps empower youth through her work.

  • Signing in!

    Signing in!

  • All Smiles!

    All Smiles!

  • Retired Principal Gail Dobby (left) and Guidance Counsellor Arpi Kurkjian (right) were on hand to support the girls.

    Retired Principal Gail Dobby (left) and Guidance Counsellor Arpi Kurkjian (right) were on hand to support the girls.

  • Zoe, Elizabeth, Ara and Casey (left to right)

    Zoe, Elizabeth, Ara and Casey (left to right)

  • This is what 400 empowered girls looks like!

    This is what 400 empowered girls looks like!

  • Olympic wrestler Ohenewa Akuffo talks to the girls about her experiences.

    Olympic wrestler Ohenewa Akuffo talks to the girls about her experiences.

  • Balloons!

    Balloons!

  • Some of the girls.

    Some of the girls.

Here’s what people had to say about the day:

“Growing up in Toronto, you hear in the news how bad it is in other parts of the world. It makes me feel empowered that I can do something, I can help, and speak for girls around the world.” – Casey, 13, Toronto

“It was hard for me to imagine not being able to use my own voice. I understand what girls are going through. This inspired me to go further with Because I am a Girl” – Elizabeth, 13, Toronto

“I think it rings so true that girls lack self-confidence because they are being told they’re not pretty enough. That’s all media pressure. It made me realize what an uphill battle that is – being bombarded by images. We have to battle that at schools too.” – Arpi Kurkjian, Guidance Counsellor

“We chose girls to come here based on their leadership skills. When they come to this they feel empowered and they take it back to school. That starts this process for change. It needs to start locally. Those Skype videos were powerful. They can take this, take it to other females, and it grows. It empowers them; opens up their minds.” – Gail Dobby, retired Principal

Tying it all together

The workshop was a great success, and underlined the importance of education in empowering young women.

Unfortunately, many girls around the world face barriers to receiving a quality education, including girls in Canada.

Plan Canada’s recent report, A Girl’s Right to Learn Without Fear has found that bullying, teasing, and physical and sexual violence is a major barrier to girls accessing their right to an education. Between 500 million and 1.5 billion children around the world experience violence every year, including girls right here in Canada.

You can help put an end to violence at school!

YOU can help end violence in schools by encouraging the Canadian government to take action.

Send an email or write to your local Member of Parliament and ask them to support a national action plan to end violence against children, with a strong focus on gender in and around schools. This will help all children, especially girls, realize their right to learn without fear.

Help make schools safe.
Sponsor the Because I am a Girl project today!
Or, call 1-800-609-3017