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Diversifying the Face of Leadership: Plan International Canada Joins Forces with Leading Organizations to Create Space for More Young Women to Step into High-Profile Leadership Roles

Plan International Canada’s Girls Belong Here program expands because girls and women have a right to equal opportunity and belong at all levels of leadership

TORONTO, ON, February 21, 2023 – Today, Plan International Canada, a leading global humanitarian and development organization dedicated to advancing children's rights and equality for girls, announced the expansion of its longstanding youth leadership program Girls Belong Here. Previously offered once a year in the fall around International Day of the Girl, Plan International Canada has now teamed up with both new and longtime partners to offer the program in the spring around International Women’s Day, multiplying the number of spots available so more girls, young women and Canadian leaders can participate.

Leading up to International Women’s Day, more than 30 self-identifying young women will be stepping into the roles of CEOs, HR directors, ambassadors, members of parliament, and other leaders at more than 11 partner organizations. In its seven-year history, the Girls Belong Here program has engaged more than 180 girls and young women in leadership roles at leading Canadian corporations, civil society organizations, and government offices.

Programs like Girls Belong Here are helping to promote gender equality, which is estimated to still be 132 years away from being achieved. The program offers girls and young women with a unique launchpad to strengthen their confidence, hone their technical skills, expand their professional networks and increase the representation of the next generation of women in leadership. By investing in these young leaders, we support them in becoming powerful change-makers benefiting organizations, their communities and society as a whole.

“I applied for the Girls Belong Here program to experience firsthand what it's like to be a woman leader in the workforce. Girls have immense potential that needs to be tapped into and given a platform, and Girls Belong Here does just that,” says Anoushka, a Plan International Canada youth ambassador partnering with the Bank of Montreal (BMO). “Through this experience, I am learning invaluable skills, building lifelong relationships and connections and growing personally. I strongly encourage young girls to apply for this rare, life-changing opportunity.”

This year, Plan International Canada is proud to come together with AstraZeneca, BMO and other leading organizations for the program's inaugural spring edition. Some partner organizations will host Seat Shares, through which young women take over the role of a leader, receive mentorship, and have the chance to lead meetings, develop programs and policies and discuss initiatives to address key social issues. Some partners, such as BMO, are participating in Innovation Hubs, which are half-day engagements during which several participating girls and young women contribute their insights to resolve a specific organizational challenge.

“As someone who has had the privilege of participating in the Girls Belong Here program, I can attest to the positive effect it has on both the youth participants and their mentors. Seeing these brilliant young women step into leadership positions and make their voices heard is a reminder of their limitless potential and the role they play in shaping our world,” says Lindsay Glassco, President and CEO, Plan International Canada. “By partnering with us to expand the program, organizations have the chance to support and advance not only female leadership, but also a more diverse and equal future.”

Since 2016, the Girls Belong Here program has amplified the voices of girls and young women, advocated for their rights and supported them in claiming a path of their choosing. By broadening leadership pathways for girls today, Girls Belong Here participants are helping foster a generation of girls and women who will break barriers, challenge stereotypes and meaningfully contribute to our global economy and society. The expansion of the Girls Belong Here program is also in line with Plan International Canada’s newly launched 5-year strategic plan All Girls Standing Strong, which includes the goals of increasing impact in gender-transformative programming and the amplification of youth voices.

Partners participating in Plan International Canada’s spring 2023 Girls Belong Here program include:

  • AstraZeneca (global program sponsor)
  • Bank of Montreal (BMO - Canada and USA offices)
  • Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)
  • Pfizer/Alesse
  • Brother International
  • Unilever
  • Fora: Network for Change
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Results Canada
  • University of Alberta
  • YWCA Canada
  • Political decision-makers at various levels of government in Canada

For more information on how to get involved in this exciting initiative to advance girls’ rights and gender equality, please visit:

Follow @PlanCanada and the hashtag #GirlsBelongHere on social media to see the journeys of our program participants. 

About Plan International Canada

Plan International Canada is a member of a global organization dedicated to advancing children's rights and equality for girls. Plan International has been building powerful partnerships for children for over 85 years and is now active in more than 80 countries. We stand with children, especially girls, wherever they are oppressed, exploited, left behind or not equally valued. We’re determined optimists, and we will continue to persevere until we are all equal.

Visit for more information and follow @PlanCanada on social media for the latest news.

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