#GirlsBelongHere – My Experience

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to participate in a campaign from Plan Canada’s Because I am a Girl initiative called ‘Girls Belong Here’. In honour of the 5th International Day of the Girl, an inspiring group of girls from across the country and I had the opportunity to step into the roles of people in positions of power for a day. The purpose of this campaign was to show the importance of having women represented equally across the playing field. Women make up 50% of the population, so we need to make up 50% of leadership roles. In Canada, the average percentage of women in executive ranks is only 15%. Of the Fortune 500 companies, women hold less than 5% of the CEO roles.

These numbers need to change. It is crucial that young girls see themselves reflected in roles across the board so that they can aspire to fill those seats one day. If our youth can see that they are capable of filling these seats, our world will be a far more inclusive and just place to live in.

The twelve of us came out with a video calling on world leaders and representatives to give us their seats for the day, so we can truly take the lead. The response was completely unprecedented, with more than 250 leaders across the world answering our call. In Canada, girls stepped into the roles of Ministers, MPs, CEOs, and more.

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Jathusha Mahenthirarajan, with Madame Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau and Patty Hajdu, Minister of Status of Women
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Reina Foster, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs
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Raisa Musad, with Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

I had the chance to step into the role of Ms. Rachael Harder, the Conservative Critic for Youth and Persons with Disabilities. On October 4th, I spent a truly empowering and humbling day with her, attending meetings, special events, and Question Period. Throughout the whole day I felt incredibly inspired by Ms. Harder who is a huge believer and advocate for girls’rights and giving youth a voice. She has dedicated her life to ensuring that the voices of all Canadians are heard, no matter what their age or gender.

Despite my uncertainties leading up to the day, I surprised myself by feeling totally comfortable in the role and felt my confidence growing as the day went on. Before Question Period, I helped Ms. Harder write a question to ask regarding women’s rights and the Yazidi women who are being persecuted by ISIS. I had the opportunity to lead three different meetings during the day. The first meeting I led was with some of Ms. Harder’s female MP colleagues in which we discussed the importance of women’s role in politics.

I then chaired a meeting about men’s role in advancing gender equality with some of her male colleagues. I also led a very eye-opening meeting with the Red Cross in which we discussed some of their work in Syria and Iraq.

I am so incredibly thankful to Ms. Harder for all of her support and generosity in making this day so impactful for me. I will always cherish the time we spent together. She is a truly amazing woman who serves as an inspiration for me, and all girls across Canada.

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I didn’t think things could get any more exciting than going to Parliament, but the following week I had the opportunity to mark the 5th anniversary of International day of the Girl with some amazing people.  On October 11th, myself and four other girls who participated in the Girls Belong Here campaign had the opportunity to attend three unforgettable events. In the morning we went to the Toronto Stock Exchange and rang the bell with Madame Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau and other youth advocates for girls’ rights. We then traveled back to the Plan Canada offices where we sat on a panel with
Madame and discussed our experiences as a part of the campaign and our beliefs surrounding gender equality.

It was a true honour to be sitting next to Madame, who is such a huge advocate and hero for gender equality and girls’ rights in Canada and across the world. She is so incredibly welcoming and easy to talk to and it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to be having a conversation with her about an issue that I am so passionate about. This experience is something I will keep with me forever and will continue to empower me.

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To end off the day we attended an event at the Toronto Eaton Centre where we chatted with the Leader of the Opposition, MP Rona Ambrose about her efforts in creating International Day of the Girl. It was very inspiring to hear about all of her hard work and role in making this day a reality across the world. Her dedication to the cause serves as a great example for me, and all Canadian girls.

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My entire experience as a part of the #GirlsBelongHere campaign has been such a humbling and empowering time for me. I am forever grateful to Plan International Canada for giving me this opportunity and entrusting me to take on such an important role.

What is the most significant lesson I have taken away from this experience?  I was reminded that when it comes to leadership roles, girls truly belong here, and EVERYWHERE else where decisions are made!

Thanks for joining me on my journey to change the world!

-Diviya 🙂

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1 thought on “#GirlsBelongHere – My Experience

  1. I really appreciate how much you get involved in the society and the passion of striving for a change in women rights. Keep up the good work Diviya:)

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