Tag Archives: Because I am a girl

#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.

rona

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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#WhatIReallyReallyWant

What do you REALLY REALLY want?

Do you want an end to violence against girls, quality education for all girls, an end to child marriage, or equal pay for equal work?

It has proven time and time again that empowering and supporting girls and women is key to tackling global issues. The Sustainable Development goals are a list of 169 targets to achieve globally by 2030. These goals aim to preserve our environment, eradicate climate change, and reduce inequalities. World leaders promised to put girls and women first when they agreed to support the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015. In order to ensure that they keep their promise, it is vital for us to raise our voices so loud that they have to listen.

Yesterday, the Global Goals came out with a new parody of the Spice Girls’ hit song “Wannabe”, highlighting a few of the issues that girls and women face around the world. From the United Kingdom to South Africa and India, the video shows the diversity and potential of girls globally.

I believe that this video has a powerful message that has the potential to reach millions. In the media it is often portrayed that all girls “really really want” is beauty, boys, and money. However, as this campaign clearly proves we strive for so much more than that. We have big dreams that we are putting into action and we are seeing change happen as a result. Our dreams include ending gender based violence, solving climate change, and equal pay for equal work, just to name a few. We are intelligent, we are powerful, and we will stop at nothing to see our dreams in action.

Share a picture on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook of yourself holding up what YOU really, really want for girls and women with the hashtag #WhatIReallyReallyWant!

If we raise our voices our messages will be shared with world leaders at the UN in September.

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“Girl power has come a long way, let’s take it further!”

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

-Diviya 🙂

Words Matter. Raise your voice. Tell a girl she can!

 

This upcoming Tuesday, March 8th, is International Women’s Day! It is a day to celebrate what we have achieved so far in terms of women’s equality, and to recognize what still needs to be accomplished.

In celebration of the day, the initiative Because I am a Girl created a video profiling the stories of different women in Canada. The video recognized all the degrading things that women are told that bring them down. Some examples include “You must have enticed him in some way,” and “You’re not ugly enough to be as smart as you are.” These phrases are pushing women down and telling them they are not capable of achieving greatness. But in my opinion, your gender does not determine your worth, strength, or capabilities. You are powerful no matter what.

As a member of the Because I am a Girl Speakers Bureau, I had the honour of participating in this video. My line in the video was “Great, just another angry feminist.” This is something that I have been told, and it is not right. Being a feminist is something to be proud of, not something to be shamed for.

You can check out the video below:

So, what can YOU do?

#1: Share – Post the link to this video on social media to share with all of your family and friends.

#2: Tweet with #LiftHerUp – On Twitter or Facebook share a message of strength and positivity for all girls everywhere. For every tweet, Scotiabank will donate $1 to a maximum of $30 000 to Plan Canada’s Because I am a Girl initiative.

#2: Celebrate International Women’s Day! – On March 8th, spread the word, and take action to make sure all women feel lifted up. Also, if you happen to be near the Eaton Centre stop by to see a 3D hologram of a girl that will be lifted up by all of the #LiftHerUp messages!

“It’s time to send women and girls the RIGHT message!”

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

-Diviya

Dear Baby Girl: A Spoken Word Poem

Recently, a fellow member of the Because I am a Girl Speakers Bureau named Nirosha attended Free The Children’s Take Action Camp. The energy at camp was so inspiring that she wrote a spoken-word poem called ‘Dear Baby Girl’ and presented it at the talent show on the last night. Nirosha’s words are so incredibly powerful and really make you think about the huge issue of gender inequality. Please like, comment, subscribe and share this video with all your friends and your family.

Our Pink LemonAID Stand Success!

Yesterday, my cousins, my sister and I set up a Pink LemonAID stand to raise money for the Plan International initiative Because I am a Girl. It was a huge success and a great experience for both me and my younger cousin and sister.

pink lemonaid stand

We came up with the idea because my little cousins Preeti and Arjun wanted to do something to help girls around the world just like I have. I thought that it would be a great idea for me to help them do a Pink LemonAID stand so we spent about a week gathering materials, making plans, and making posters.

The day of, we got to the Farmers Market and set up our big canopy and our table along with our signs. At first it looked like we weren’t going to be making much money. For a while we only had $2 in our donation jar but very soon more people started coming and buying lemonade along with handmade bracelets made by my sister and I. How it worked was that there was no set price for the drink, although there was a recommended donation, which was $2. Basically, people gave what they wanted. Most people gave $2, but we got some fives and even a twenty.

pink lemonaid
By 12:00 we we were already sold out!

“This is the best day of my life!” That is what my 7 year old cousin said yesterday because she felt so good about making a difference!

By the end of the day we we were extremely hot and tired but we felt proud of what we had done. The grand total came to………drum roll please! $700!!!

Even if you weren’t able to come out yesterday you can still donate at: https://secure.e2rm.com/registrant/FundraisingPage.aspx?SID=6245980&LangPref=en-CA&EID=174191

Thanks so much to everyone who donated!

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

Diviya

My Poem About Girl’s Rights – What’s My Crime?

Below is a poem I wrote for a school project. I thought it would be a cool idea to put it on my blog since it directly relates to the content I write about.

What’s My Crime?

A thousand years I’ve lived in this prison,

Stripped of my Freedom,

Stomach empty due to malnutrition,

Isolated from anything and everything

In my prison the walls are cold and grey,

The walls are closing in,

Tighter, Tighter, Tighter,

Cruel and unfeeling,

They stand up all day,

Watching without pity,

Laughing at my dismay

In my prison I stare through the barred window,

At my brothers running Free,

And l wonder,

If I had of pulled out the lucky card,

In the lottery of life,

Would I still be stuck in this unforgiving prison?

I’ve never understood why,

It was I who was trapped,

In this inescapable prison,

While my brothers have had the chance to,

Ignite their sparks,

And make their dreams reality

But just one moment,

Turned my life around,

When I simply found an old book,

Lying on the ground

When I opened the aged book,

The aroma embraced me in a warm hug,

And as I ran my fingers down its worn spine,

I could hear the words screaming to be read,

So I began to read,

And as the words entered my head,

I could just taste the freedom,

That my brothers had everyday

But just as fast as my life had turned right-side up,

It flipped upside down again,

Because my one taste of freedom,

Was snatched from my fingertips,

As fast as light,

Pushing me deeper,

Into my plight

It was Papa,

That kept me locked up,

Like his prisoner,

Forcing me to cook and clean

Stuck inside,

Hardly ever seen

So even though my house doesn’t have bars,

It is still my prison,

What’s my crime you ask?

Being born a GIRL

          Globally, there are 65 million girls out of school. The young girl in my poem is supposed to represent all those girls deprived of an education. In my poem, I described her life as a prison, because she feels as though she cannot escape her fate. In the developing world, many girls are forced into marriage at a young age, and then pushed into having babies before their bodies are even ready. This is the girl’s future that she wishes she could escape from. The reason the title is “What’s My Crime?” is because the girl doesn’t understand why she and her brothers get treated so differently. To her, whether you’re male or female, you’re still human, and all humans have human rights, and one of those rights is education. Basically, the message my poem is trying to send out is gender should not determine your rights and freedoms.

I hope you enjoyed reading my poem!

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

-Diviya

Gendercide-Unfortunately, It’s A Real Thing

The three deadliest words in the world-“It’s a girl.”

According to the filmmakers of the “It’s a girl” movie, those three words are the ones that are the most fatal. Around the world, there are reportedly 200 million girls “missing.” Why? Because of the cultural preference for males.

WHAT is female feticide?

Female Feticide occurs when a fetus is intentionally aborted exclusively because the sex of the fetus is female. According to the Global Girl Power website, Female feticide has eliminated over 50 million girls from India alone in the last century.

WHAT is female infanticide?

Female Infanticide occurs when a girl child is intentionally killed merely because they are female.

HOW does female feticide happen?

Before the seventh week of pregnancy, a DNA test can be performed to determine the sex of the baby.

There are a few different processes to successfully “kill” the female fetus.

#1-Surgical Abortion: One way to abort the fetus is to do it surgically. However, abortion can only be performed when the fetus is 3 to 4 months old.

#2-Injection: A fetus that is older and cannot be aborted can instead be induced by a chemical injection. These injections are more expensive so only certain financially well off families have this privilege. But the scary thing is, according to “Global Girl Power,” as developing countries grow richer, sex-selective abortion rises.

#3-OTC Drugs- OTC drugs are used by the underprivileged who don’t have the benefit of having an injection or surgical abortion, to try to miscarry the fetus. Unfortunately, sometimes it is unsuccessful and the baby is born deformed or with a disability.

WHERE is this happening?

The problem of female feticide and infanticide is definitely more prevalent in developing countries such as India and China, but it is happening elsewhere-even in Canada. Here are a few countries where this is happening:

India: Based on statistics, India is one of the countries where gendercide is a big problem. In fact, sex-selective abortions have killed over 50 million girls from India in the last century. That is an extremely large number that must be lowered. One statistic that I found completely sickening is from the Global Girl Power website. It said “In western parts of India sex ratio goes as low as 491 women to 1000 men.” This is mainly because of female feticide and infanticide. Because of the extreme difference in sex ratios, the competition between men for women has greatly increased. Therefore, sexual violence has also increased.

China: Like India, China is also a country where female feticide and infanticide is happening. According to the director of the “It’s A Girl” movie, in China, there are 37 million more men than women. Also, China’s former one-child policy supposedly increased the rate of female feticide, since parents wanted their one child to be a male.

Canada: When I first started researching where this is happening, I was astonished that this is happening in Canada. The articles that I read suggested that is happening in some Indo-Canadian communities. Indian communities are usually where gender discrimination is more common. In February of last year, there was a National Post article with the title “Rise in sex-based abortions prompts doctors to call for end to ultrasounds that only determine gender of fetus.” The reason for this was because of concerns for rising abortions of female fetuses.

WHY is this happening?

The reason for this whole “gendercide” is simply because of the cultural preference for male children. I think that this is absolutely heart-breaking and that it needs to stop, and soon.

WHAT are we doing to help?

Really, the only thing we can do is to really just raise awareness about the issue and to continue to break down cultural norms and barriers. To raise awareness, you can speak at your school, you can tell people simply by word of mouth, and you can write to your local member of parliament about the issue. Also, to help you can support charities like Because I am a Girl.

Recently, I saw that there is a movie called “It’s a Girl” that discusses the issue.

Here is the trailer for the It’s A Girl movie:

Here is a video of the director of the movie giving a talk about the issue:

Together, we can break down cultural norms and barriers, making gendercide a thing of the past.

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

-Diviya

SOURCES:http://www. itsagirlmovie.com/ http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/02/19/rise-in-sex-based-abortions-prompts-doctors-to-call-for-end-to-ultrasounds-that-only-determine-gender-of-fetus/ http://globalgirlpower.org/what-is-female-feticide/

Why Men NEED To Take A Stand For Gender Equality!

Picture this: People campaigning for women’s rights. Now, when you are imagining this scene, are the people campaigning men or women? For most people, they would be probably be picturing women. Actually, I did a quick experiment by doing a quick Google search by using the search terms “people campaigning for women’s rights.” To my astonishment, not one picture that came up showed a man in it-they were all women! This is a big problem. Gender inequality should not just be a women’s problem, it is everyone’s problem!

The movement for gender equality was originally thought of to just be a women’s problem. Currently, throughout the world more men are starting to take action, but unfortunately, still the majority of people campaigning are women.

Some men may think it would be seen as weird or “unmanly” to be seen standing up for girls’ rights, but actually, I believe that men would be admired for supporting such an important cause. For example, recently there was an article in The Guardian about a man in the UK who is running a woman’s campaign. The title of the article was “I’m a man running a girls’ rights campaign. So what?” I think that this title really speaks for itself-that men should not be thought less of for taking action on this issue. To read the article you can go to:http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2014/nov/18/im-a-man-running-a-girls-rights-campaign-so-what.

Colin Walker

According to actor and author Terry Crews, “I kind of relate it to slavery. Or even civil rights. Let’s not even go back to slavery, let’s go to civil rights—the people who were silent at the lunch counters, when it was the black lunch counter and the white one or the schools were segregated…and you were quiet. You were accepting it. Same thing with men right now. If you don’t say anything, you are, by your silence—it’s acceptance. I’m not going to be silent.”

By now, you are probably wondering how you can get involved. Well, He For She is an organization and a movement  for gender equality that is encouraging men to get involved. At He For She they believe that everyone should be working to end gender equality, not just half of the population. To get involved with He For She, you can check out their website at http://www.heforshe.org/. On their website they have an action kit and a place for you to donate. Also, at the bottom of their site there is a place for you to click “I agree” where you can join the movement.

Emma Watson HeForShe speech

Actually, Emma Watson recently gave a speech to the United Nations about He for She. Her speech was extremely moving and she spoke extremely passionately. I thought she was amazing and to watch her speech you can go to:

If we all take a stand, then gender inequality will be a thing of the past!

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

-Diviya