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“Challenge Accepted!” Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, responds to young woman’s challenge to share his office for the day as part of Plan International Canada’s #GirlsBelongHere initiative

Prime Minister joins International Day of the Girl celebration, showing Canada and the world that girls belong in their dream jobs.


TORONTO, ON (September 25, 2017) – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accepted a challenge issued by 23-year-old Breanne Lavallee-Heckert on Twitter today, asking him to share his office with her to show Canada and the world that girls belong in their dream jobs.

The challenge comes as part of #GirlsBelongHere, an annual initiative to celebrate International Day of the Girl on October 11. #GirlsBelongHere is supported by Plan International Canada, the team behind the groundbreaking Because I am a Girl movement.

“I dream of having a real impact as a leader in Canada, and I am so excited that Prime Minister Trudeau has accepted my challenge,” says Lavallee-Heckert, a second-year McGill law student from Manitoba.

“Growing up as a Métis woman in Canada, I have faced barriers rooted in harmful stereotypes and gender norms. This is an incredible opportunity for me personally, and I look forward to showing Canada and the world that every girl – no matter her race, religion, culture or ability – has the power to achieve her dreams.”

Lavallee-Heckert is one of a diverse group of girls from across Canada who have challenged leaders in a variety of sectors – including politicians, journalists, educators, and business executives – to share their role for a day to illustrate every girl’s right to realize their full potential.

In addition to the Prime Minister, Parliament Hill challenges have also been accepted by the Hon. Navdeep Singh Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and the Hon. Harjit Singh Sajjan, Minister of Defence.

View the full list of this year’s #GirlsBelongHere participants here.

“Despite the many strides we’ve made, girls still face a ‘dream gap’ – a combination of barriers, such as gender inequality, negative stereotypes, and discrimination that hold them back from fulfilling their potential,” says Caroline Riseboro, President and CEO of Plan International Canada, who will also be sharing her office in celebration of International Day of the Girl.

“Thank you to Prime Minister Trudeau and the many participants in #GirlsBelongHere who are standing with girls as they work to tear down those barriers and achieve gender equality. Most of all, thank you to the incredible young women who are leading the way with this initiative. They have the power to change the world; it is our duty to make sure they have the chance.”

The Canadian #GirlsBelongHere initiative is part of a global mass initiative led by Plan International (#GirlsTakeover), with more than 500 girls in 60 countries stepping into roles, including the Prime Minister of Finland, Vice Prime Minister of Belgium, and the Mayor of Dublin.

Facts about gender inequality:

  • Globally, millions of girls still bear the brunt of poverty, are denied an education, forced into marriage and face violence because they are young and female.
  • The majority of the 1.2 billion people living in extreme poverty are girls and women.
  • More than 62 million girls around the world are out of school.
  • Each year, 15 million girls under 18 will be married and 16 million girls ages 15-19 will give birth.
  • Canadian women earn $0.87 for every dollar earned by men, largely as a result of wage inequality between women and men within occupations.
  • Women account for just over a quarter (26%) of the elected seats in Canada’s Parliament.

About International Day of the Girl

In 2009, Plan International Canada led an extensive two-year campaign that engaged thousands of Canadians in a call for an International Day of the Girl as part of the Because I am a Girl, a global initiative to end gender inequality and recognize girls’ rights as human rights. In December 2011, following unanimous all-party support of the Canadian Parliament and support from the United Nations, October 11 was officially declared the International Day of the Girl.

About Plan International Canada and the Because I am a Girl initiative

Founded in 1937, Plan International is one of the world’s oldest and largest international development agencies, working in partnership with millions of people around the world to end global poverty. Not for profit, independent and inclusive of all faiths and cultures, Plan International strives for a just world that advances children’s rights and equality for girls. Because I am a Girl is Plan International’s global movement to transform power relations so that girls everywhere can learn, lead, decide and thrive.

Visit plancanada.ca and becauseiamagirl.ca for more information.

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Kyla Pearson
Senior Media and Public Relations Manager, Plan International Canada
T: 416-920-1654 ext 350
C: 647-459-7557
kpearson@plancanada.ca

Angie Torres-Ramos
Media and Public Relations Specialist, Plan International Canada
T: 416-920-1654 ext 244
atorres@plancanada.ca

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