It's time for girls to be seen and heard, says Plan International Canada on International Day of the Girl

TORONTO, Oct. 11, 2016 /CNW/ - On the 5th annual International Day of the Girl, Plan International Canada is urging Canadians to stand up for gender equality and declare that #GirlsBelongHere. To mark this day, Plan is fueling a groundswell of girls who have told the world that they belong in political, economic and business leadership positions. A diverse group of remarkable girls issued a challenge to Canadian decision-makers: 'let us take the lead for a day'.

The challenge was enthusiastically accepted by leaders across the country, with 12 inspiring girls filling high-profile seats where they are traditionally not seen or heard. Last week on Parliament Hill and at the United Nations, girls joined prominent Canadian politicians on the job as they dashed from meetings to Question Period to evening speaking engagements. Watch this video for behind-the-scenes action from The Hill.

In Toronto, girls and their allies are invited to celebrate International Day of the Girl at the Toronto Eaton Centre, where they can take a picture of themselves in a symbolic leadership seat to illustrate every girl's right to equal opportunities. Canadians can join the conversation by sharing their photos and support on social media using #GirlsBelongHere. For every social engagement using #GirlsBelongHere, Sears Canada will donate $1 to Plan International Canada's Because I am a Girl movement.

"Girls' voices should be heard in Canada and around the world. They should contribute to the meaningful decisions that affect everyone," said Caroline Riseboro, President & CEO, Plan International Canada. "Too many are still being forced into marriage and motherhood in their early teens, are not allowed to go to school, and live in fear of violence, simply because they are girls. Until that changes, we will relentlessly mark International Day of the Girl by shining a spotlight on the inequalities faced by girls, and the work being done to empower and rally behind them."

The Canadian #GirlsBelongHere initiative is part of a global mass movement with over 160 leadership roles being filled by girls in over 50 countries – many of which are captured on this interactive social map.

For access to images and video footage from #GirlsBelongHere, please visit our Content Centre.

In Canada, there are more ways to be part of the momentum on International Day of the Girl:

  1. Share a message of support using customizable signs at plancanada.ca/GirlsBelongHere. Tell the world that girls belong in leadership roles and anywhere else they choose.
  2. Visit monuments across the country that have been lit up in pink to celebrate International Day of the Girl. These include:  Northwest Territories – Legislative Building; British Columbia – Canada Place, BC Place, Science World, Fitzsimmons Bridge and Vancouver Convention Centre (Olympic Cauldron and the District Marker); Alberta – Calgary Tower; Saskatchewan – RCMP Heritage Centre; Ontario - City Hall Towers, Toronto sign; Newfoundland and Labrador – Cabot Tower and Signal Hill; New BrunswickFredericton City Hall; Nova ScotiaHalifax City Hall.
  3. Sponsor a girl or donate at becauseiamagirl.ca.
  4. Urge political and economic leaders to do everything in their power to make gender equality a reality.

Plan International Canada would like to thank everyone who accepted the challenge, demonstrating every girl's right to equal opportunities. Leaders from coast to coast participated and raised awareness for gender equality, some of whom included the following:

  • Caroline Riseboro, President & CEO of Plan International Canada
  • The Honourable Bill Morneau, Minister of Finance
  • The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie
  • The Honourable Patricia Hajdu, Minister of Status of Women
  • The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs
  • The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
  • The Honourable Bardish Chagger, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism (Waterloo)
  • Michael Grant, Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations in NYC
  • Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet, NDP Whip
  • Rachael Harder, Conservative MP for Lethbridge and Critic for Youth and Persons with Disabilities
  • Pino Buffone, Superintendent of Instruction, Ottawa-Carleton District School Board
  • Dr. Jennifer Adams, Director of Ottawa-Carleton District School Board
  • Robert Witchel, Executive Director, Jays Care Foundation

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 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.

SOURCE Plan Canada

For further information: Media contacts: Jeanelle Awa, Account Director, Hill and Knowlton Strategies, T: 416 413-4752, C: 647 460-3345, jeanelle.awa@hkstrategies.ca; Irene Whittaker-Cumming, Senior Manager, Communications, Plan International Canada, T: 416 920-1654 ext. 549, C: 647 284-9575, iwhittakercumming@plancanada.ca; Kaili Colford, Senior Media and Public Relations Manager, Plan International Canada, T: 416 920-1654 ext. 350, C: 647-459-7557, kcolford@plancanada.ca

RELATED LINKS
http://www.plan-international.org/canada

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