What is Girls Belong Here?

The Plan International Canada Girls Belong Here program is part of a global movement to amplify the voices of girls and young women, advocate for their rights and support them in claiming a path of their choosing.

Since 2016, Girls Belong Here has created opportunities for young women (aged 14-24) to step into leadership roles in civil society organizations, corporations and government, helping demonstrate that women belong at all levels of leadership and have a right to equal opportunity in all industries. To date, the program has connected more than 150 female-identifying youth with leadership opportunities, and it has expanded beyond Canadian borders to be offered in other countries.

The fall 2022 program is especially meaningful because we are celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the International Day of the Girl on October 11. This day was officially declared by the United Nations after a campaign led by Plan International Canada. While Girls Belong Here is typically offered in the fall around the celebration of the International Day of the Girl, we are thrilled to be expanding the program to also offer it in the spring of 2023, around the celebration of International Women’s Day. This expansion allows us to create more room for girls’ voices to be heard.

By empowering girls today and publicly standing beside them, we help foster a generation of girls and women who will break barriers, challenge stereotypes and contribute to our global economy and society.

How does Girls Belong Here work?

Youth ambassadors and partner organizations can partake in the following activities:

  • A Seat Share invites a young woman to step into a position of leadership over several days – running meetings, participating in important conversations, and contributing to critical organizational goals.
  • An Innovation Hub is a half-day engagement for a group of youth ambassadors featuring collaborative workshops led by partner organizations. In these workshops, youth ambassadors address a challenge or issue identified by the organization.
  • Speaker Series are opportunities for youth ambassadors to share about their advocacy for girls’ rights and gender equality. This can take place at an organization’s lunch-and-learns, team meetings, fundraising initiatives or other events.

To adapt to the current reality, Girls Belong Here is taking a hybrid approach to programming with a combination of virtual and in-person activities. Plan International Canada’s priority remains the safety and comfort of all participants, so we will continue to monitor the situation and follow public health recommendations to adapt accordingly.

Ways to Get Involved

Youth: If you are based in Canada, identify as female, and are between 14 to 24 years old, you can apply to participate in our program. Fall 2022 applications are now closed but keep an eye on our social media for our spring 2023 application period.

Partners: Your organization can participate in our program in multiple ways, as outlined below. If you are interested, please contact us at girlsbelonghere@plancanada.ca

  1. Host a Seat Share A leader at your organization is partnered with our youth ambassadors.
  2. Host an Innovation Hub Multiple youth ambassadors contribute their unique ideas, solutions and insights on a challenge or project at your organization.
  3. Host a Speaker Series Host an event that features one of our youth ambassadors (this can take place year-round).
  4. Engage your employees and carry-out consumer activations Fundraise through an employee fundraising page, a point-of-sale campaign, a company matching program, events, or other initiatives (we can support you in building these).

Girls Belong Here is good business

Participating in the program as a partner offers many benefits, including:

  • National recognition
  • Positioning your company as a leader in gender equality, girls’ rights, diversity, equity and inclusion
  • Offering opportunities for brand recognition and promotion
  • Encouraging employee engagement and retention
  • Providing innovation for your organization by connecting you with a diverse and incredible group of youth ambassadors

For more information, please reach out to girlsbelonghere@plancanada.ca. We look forward to getting your organization started today!

Get started today

Plan International Canada thanks our Girls Belong Here partners for their unwavering dedication to investing in girls:

logo1

A look back at previous years

Last year, Girls Belong Here was a successful and fully virtual program that incorporated new elements including Innovation Hubs and Speaker Series. We had 17 partners and more than 40 Youth Ambassadors participating across Canada, the United States, Sweden and Switzerland.

2020 was the program’s first virtual year, and our incredible partners and youth ambassadors rose to the occasion and met the challenge with resilience, creativity and renewed passion. Over the years, many girls and young women in Canada have been propelled into leadership positions to demonstrate their potential and show that girls belong wherever decisions are being made.


Some of our past and current partners

AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca is proud to be the largest global supporter of Girls Belong Here. Last year, in alignment with their Young Health Programme (YHP), a number of AstraZeneca executives participated in an amazing day of learning and dialogue during a Seat Share experience with six remarkable young women from Canada, the United States and Sweden.

The YHP was established in 2010 and is AstraZeneca’s global community investment initiative. It supports Sustainable Development Goal 3.4: ‘By 2030, reduce by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being’.


BMO

BMO has been a proud supporter of the Girls Belong Here Program for over three years. In 2021, General Counsel of BMO Financial Group Sharon Haward-Laird participated with a Seat Share and through the Just Transition Think Tank. BMO provided seven young people with an opportunity to consult and share their perspective on sustainability-related issues and to hear from experts in the industry. This event was facilitated by BMO’s Sustainability team. The BMO Financial Group continues to show its support through a series of initiatives that encourage young women on the path to leadership while backing the goal of achieving a sustainable future.

The Body Shop

In 2021, The Body Shop not only participated in a Seat Share but expanded its involvement to include both a Canadian and U.S. Innovation Hub. Led by their North American VP of Marketing and Activism, their leadership team embarked on a journey with 21 youth from across North America. The focus of the collaboration was to ensure The Body Shop provided a space for more youth voices. The Body Shop’s activism work as a B Corp is dependent on youth influence and incorporating voices from outside the company to inform business-aligned decisions.

IBM Canada

IBM Canada is invested in creating avenues that broaden girls’ participation in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Girls Belong Here teamed up with IBM Canada to host an interactive roundtable with youth ambassadors. Participants engaged in meaningful dialogue about girls in STEM with the President and General Manager of IBM Canada. The youth ambassadors provided ideas and solutions to enhance girls’ and young women’s participation in STEM fields. IBM has been steadfast in its mission to advance women in STEM by driving innovative programs that help close the gender gap and build an inclusive workforce.

Contact us

To learn more or to register, please email girlsbelonghere@plancanada.ca. We look forward to partnering with your company!

Join our mailing list to receive updates

By signing up you agree to receive our emails.