Girls Belong Where?

In leadership! Representation and gender diversity matter. When girls, women and gender-diverse people participate in key decision-making, organizations and the world are better for it. Since 2016, Plan International Canada’s Girls Belong Here program has been creating opportunities for self-identifying girls, young women and gender-diverse youth between the ages 14 and 24 to connect with leaders and claim spaces across civil, corporate, academic and government sectors.

We ALL have a right to equal opportunity in all industries. Through Girls Belong Here, young people exchange knowledge and ideas with leadership in the organizations they are paired with and provide their perspectives on various organizational strategies and initiatives, to support advancement the of gender equality.

This program is part of a global movement to amplify the voices of people who experience gender-based discrimination (including girls, women and non-binary people) to advocate for their rights and elevate their position in society.

Previous key partners include powerful industry leaders like David McKay, President of the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) and change-makers in the political realm including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Some of our partners in 2022-2023 included corporations such as Ikea, RBC and AstraZeneca as well as political leaders such as Minister Marci Ien and Parliamentary Secretary Jenna Sudds.

Youth participant Muzna (right) contributes to a meeting during her seat share with Michele Bailey, CEO of Blazing, a trailblazing advertising agency (left).
Youth participant Celine (right) meets with Nadine Ahn, Chief Financial Officer at RBC (left).

Here are the ways we do it – both in-person and virtually:

  • Seat Share Step into a leader’s role for several days. In this activity, youth exchange ideas with leadership, receive mentorship and participate in meetings and other meaningful discussions, contributing to key organization goals.
  • Innovation Hub Connect and collaborate with other youth participants in a half-day workshop led by a partner organization. You’ll help address a challenge or issue they face – they want your unique perspective!
  • Speaker Series Youth can share their ideas and advocacy work year-round by leading an organization’s lunch-and-learn, fundraising initiative or another event (don’t be afraid to think outside the box).

Shatter the ceiling

We know that girls, women, and gender-diverse youth are creative, passionate and capable. Still, people who experience gender-based discrimination are underrepresented across all industries and sectors – especially science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields – and in key decision-making roles.

GBH Youth Ambassadors with Plan International Canada President and CEO

When does the program take place?

The Girls Belong Here program takes place around two moments, International Day of the Girl in the fall (with programming between September and October) and International Women’s Day in the spring (with programming between February and March). This will offer two cohorts, and candidates are welcome to apply for either cohort.

Please note that the Girls Belong Here experience will take place during weekdays and working hours, which may lead to missing work or school. Plan International Canada can provide support letters to your school or employer.

Get Involved

See all the amazing things that can happen when girls, young women and gender-diverse youth lead.

For youth:

We invite all self-identifying girls and young women as well as gender-diverse youth (eg: transgender, non-binary, genderfluid, two-spirit, agender, other) who are between the ages of 14 and 24 and based in Canada to apply.

If you’d like to participate in upcoming programming, follow us on social media to get updates about when our application period opens. You can also sign up for our monthly e-newsletter to stay up to date on upcoming youth opportunities.

For organizations:

There are many ways you can champion change (and innovation)! In addition to hosting a Seat Share, Innovation Hub or Speaker Series, you can fundraise. Fundraising can be through an employee page, point-of-sale campaign, company matching or other events and initiatives.

If you have an idea, we can help build it. To learn more or get involved, please contact us at girlsbelonghere@plancanada.ca.

Thank you to all our incredible Girls Belong Here partners – past, present and future.

2023 partners

Legacy partners

Reflections from youth participants and partners


Since 2019, BMO has been a proud partner supporting the Girls Belong Here program. In 2021, seven girls and young women were invited to engage about sustainability issues and solutions.

Through Seat Shares with Sharon Howard-Laird, General Counsel of BMO Financial Group, participants consulted and exchanged ideas with industry experts.


AstraZeneca’s support for Girls Belong Here goes beyond Canadian borders. As the largest global supporter for the program, AstraZeneca executives participated in Seat Shares with six young women from Canada, the United States and Sweden to help develop their Young Health Programme (YHP).

YHP supports the United Nations’ 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.”

The Body Shop

Led by the North American VP of Marketing and Activism of The Body Shop, 21 youth from Canada and the United States collaborated with leadership through Seat Shares and an Innovation Hub.

In these experiences, girls and young women contributed their ideas and perspectives to The Body Shop’s activism work to help tackle social and environmental issues.

IBM Canada

To help close the gender gap and create more inclusive spaces in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields, IBM Canada hosted an interactive roundtable.

In these discussions, girls and young women shared ideas and solutions with their President and General Manager and explored their reflections.

Highlights: A look back to 2021

Go back to the year Girls Belong Here went virtual and launched Innovation Hubs and Speaker Series. Watch youth ambassadors and partners share their perspectives, experiences and learnings.

Read more in our 2022 Annual Report

Learn how Riti, an arts student at the University of British Columbia, spent time learning the ropes at BMO – and it changed her career trajectory.

Read Riti’s story

Contact us

Do you have questions or want to get involved? Please email girlsbelonghere@plancanada.ca. We look forward to connecting with you!

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