Young women step into leadership across industries through Plan International Canada’s Girls Belong Here program

Girls across Canada call for equal power and representation and declare that young women are leaders in their own right

TORONTO, ON, September 26, 2022 – As part of its unwavering commitment to advancing children’s rights and girls’ equality, Plan International Canada continues to connect young women with leadership opportunities through its longstanding youth engagement program Girls Belong Here. Now in its seventh year, the program has expanded to include more industries, amplifying girls’ voices and honouring their inherent power across different sectors of society.

This fall, more than 30 young women leaders will team up with participating civil society organizations, corporations and politicians to claim equal power and representation and to call for tangible action toward a future of leadership that is more diverse and inclusive.

Since 2016, the program has engaged over 150 girls and young women in Plan International Canada’s activities for the International Day of the Girl (IDG). As a driving force in creating the global day, Plan International Canada will celebrate the 10th anniversary of IDG on October 11, 2022.

“Girls face significant challenges when accessing leadership opportunities and exercising their right to equitable participation in society. This is due to discrimination and a lack of resources for education, skills development and mentorship,” says Anjum Sultana, Director of Youth Leadership and Policy Advocacy at Plan International Canada. “Our Girls Belong Here program, in collaboration with and for girls, seeks to change that by tearing down gender-related barriers and stereotypes and supporting young women as they build their path to power and equality.”

Girls belong here members

In addition to youth from across Canada, the program will include youth ambassadors from Sweden who will step into the roles of executives and business leaders with this year’s Global Sponsor, AstraZeneca. Youth participants from the United States will also partner with AstraZeneca and the Bank of Montreal (BMO), another major program sponsor.

“With limited representation in the media, workplace, and all spheres of life, it can be hard for girls to see themselves in leadership positions,” says Alisha Ahmed, a youth ambassador partnering with AstraZeneca in Canada this year. “We need to increase the visibility of women around the world doing incredible things because they will inspire the changemakers of tomorrow. This experience will help grow my confidence and abilities and help other young women realize their potential.”

Astra Zeneca“AstraZeneca is proud to be the largest global supporter of the Girls Belong Here program, promoting gender equality and girls’ rights around the world,” said Rebekah Martin, Senior Vice President of Reward, Inclusion and Talent Acquisition at AstraZeneca. “Young girls need to see it, to be it. As a science-led company, with 48% women in our management and senior roles, we are passionate about inspiring and advancing the next generation of women and girls in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). We hope to inspire the girls of today to become the leaders of tomorrow.”

“Our efforts extend beyond AstraZeneca, and through our Young Health Programme, we are empowering young people to realize their right to good health and well-being by creating an environment which advocates for equitable access to healthcare. In turn, this will lead to a healthier, more sustainable future for us all.”

Partners participating in Plan International Canada’s Girls Belong Here program this year include:

  • AstraZeneca
  • Atlantic Council for International Cooperation
  • Bank of Montreal (BMO)
  • Brother International
  • Church & Dwight
  • Fighting Blindness Canada
  • Fora: Network for Change
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Home Depot
  • IKEA
  • International Development and Relief Foundation (IDRF)
  • Jays Care Foundation
  • Ontario Council for International Cooperation
  • Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations in New York
  • Pfizer – Alesse
  • Results Canada
  • Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)
  • The Canadian Partnership for Women and Children’s Health (CanWaCH)
  • University of Alberta
  • Women’s College Hospital Foundation
  • World Vision Canada
  • YWCA Canada
  • Various politicians in Canada

The Girls Belong Here program has expanded this year to two moments in time. In addition to fall 2022, activities will take place in the spring of 2023 as part of Plan International Canada’s International Women’s Day celebrations. For more information on how to get involved in the next group of participants, please visit:

Check out @PlanCanada and the hashtag #GirlsBelongHere on social media to follow our program participants’ journeys.

About International Day of the Girl

Plan International Canada led an extensive two-year campaign in 2009 that engaged thousands of Canadians in a call for an International Day of the Girl, a global initiative to recognize girls’ rights as human rights. In December 2011, with unanimous all-party support, the Canadian government led the United Nations to officially declare October 11 as the International Day of the Girl.

About Plan International Canada

Plan International Canada is a member of a global organization dedicated to advancing children’s rights and equality for girls. We have been building powerful partnerships for children for over 85 years and are now active in more than 75 countries.

Visit for more information, and follow @PlanCanada on social media to join the conversation.

For media inquiries, please contact:

Plan International Canada
PR and Communications

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