Tag Archives: Girls Rights

#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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#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.