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Strong Girls, Strong World:

Empowering leaders and change makers across Canada

Thanks to the generous funding from Status of Women Canada, Plan International Canada, YMCA Canada and YWCA Canada are working in partnership to implement 10 young women and girl-led projects across Canada. These 2-year projects empower young women and girls to become leaders and agents of change in their communities, and represent a diversity of girls nationwide.

Strong Girls, Strong World

Youth leaders from across Canada unite at The Strong Girls, Strong World Summit in Sept. 2016.

three girls stand together

The program empowers girls to be agents of change in their communities, and represent a diversity of girls nationwide.

Despite advances over the years, young women in Canada face unique barriers and challenges that prevent them from fulfilling their potential. Research finds that young women in Canada continue to face distinct obstacles in their lives including violence, mental health challenges, issues with physical health, and discrimination as it relates to education and career paths. For instance, compared with boys of the same age, adolescent girls are more anxious and stressed, experience diminished academic achievement, suffer from increased depression and lower self-esteem, experience more body dissatisfaction and distress over their looks, and suffer from greater numbers of eating disorders, and attempt suicide more frequently. The challenges young women in Canada face are particularly felt by marginalized girls, including racialized, immigrant and Indigenous girls, girls living in rural areas, and girls living with disabilities.

Yet we also know that young women are resilient and innovative. When we offer young women the opportunities for leadership and engagement, it leads to positive physical and mental health impacts, life-long community engagement, and benefits to society at-large.

Girl drawing on a white board

Girls across Canada developed action plans and implemented projects to promote girls’ empowerment.

Strong Girls, Strong World takes place over two years (March 2015 – March 2017), and consists of 10 girl-led action projects in 11 rural, semi-urban, and urban communities across Canada. Each project aims to understand and capture the daily realities of young women in their community, and the barriers and opportunities that exist to girls realizing their potential. Led by girls themselves, each group developed an action project to raise awareness among girls, boys, and members of the community to help promote girls’ rights and empowerment.

The 10 projects work in their own communities, but also collaborate with other projects nationally. This allows the Strong Girls, Strong World project to capture, address and highlight both the diversity and similarity of barriers facing young women across Canada, and opportunities for girl empowerment from coast to coast. In the Fall of 2016, participants from each of the projects united at The Strong Girls, Strong World Summit for a weekend to share their project’s accomplishments and to expand on the great community-work they are leading. To learn more about The Summit, read The Strong Girls, Strong World Summit: Coming together to Inspire Change post.


The ten exciting projects include:

  • Strong Girls, Strong World Edmonton: The YMCA of Northern Alberta group members are conducting research to develop an action plan to educate people locally. The goal of the project is to increase awareness of body image and self-esteem issues while creating positive and healthy spaces for girls.
  • Strong Girls, Strong World Halifax: Bright Ideas – Empowering Young Women Change Makers: Bright Ideas empowers ten young women who are not attending school and considered “at-risk” to develop skills collectively, by choosing a social justice project that they want to lead.
  • Strong Girls, Strong World Montreal: Community Action Council: The YWCA Montreal’s Community Action Council supports young women ages 16 to 19 in developing skills to become leaders and change-makers in their local communities.
  • Strong Girls, Strong World Quebec: CyberElles: This Quebec-based project educates young girls and boys on the respectful and safe use of social media. A group of 15 young female leaders are undergoing training to tackle the complex issue of cybersexism.
  • Strong Girls, Strong World GTA: S.O.W.S. (Seeing Our Women Shine): This Toronto-based project engages young girls in at-risk communities, tackling social issues in their neighbourhood through social entrepreneurship.
  • Strong Girls, Strong World Hamilton-Muskoka: See. Do. Act – A Girl’s Guide to Civic Engagement: This Hamilton-based project is focused on bringing young women into spaces of power and decision making in rural and urban areas. It delves into the gender barriers that exist, and gives young girls a voice in systems-level change.
  • Strong Girls, Strong World Prince George: The YMCA of Northern BC's Strong Girls, Strong World project focuses on building leadership capacity and supporting wellness among females 16-19 years of age by building connections to young, local female professionals.
  • Strong Girls, Strong World Vancouver: This project empowers young girls/women to become leaders and change-makers. It also supports them to address issues and barriers that impact young women in the Metro Vancouver area.
  • Strong Girls, Strong World Winnipeg: The YMCA-YWCA of Winnipeg’s Strong Girls, Strong World project supports young women develop the skills necessary to respond to the issue of violence in relationships, and empower each other to reach their full potential.
  • Strong Girls, Strong World Moncton: YWCA Moncton formed a council using a youth-led model, meeting where youth gather, and encouraging their ideas, while also allowing a space for them to inform the work – and even own projects.

For any general inquiries, please contact us at getinvolved@plancanada.ca.

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The Strong Girls, Strong World project has been funded by Status of Women Canada.

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