The girl issue is real. It’s affecting millions of girls and women every day. In developing countries around the world, girls are denied their basic human rights – simply because they’re girls.
Unfortunately, gender inequality and discrimination exists in countries everywhere, including Canada. So, what does it look like here in Canada, and how does it impact the lives of girls and women across the country?
Research conducted as part of Strong Girls, Strong World, a Status of Women Canada funded program, overseen by Plan International Canada, facilitated by YMCA Canada and YWCA Canada, asked more than 100 girls, aged 16 – 19, across the country to share their most pressing concerns about their experiences with gender inequality here in Canada. Here’s what they had to say:
Girls speak out
The girls participating in this research revealed the negative impact of gender stereotypes in Canada’s society, and the inequality created by these unrealistic expectations.
Whether direct or subtle, outdated messages about what girls can and cannot do are inundating girls, and influencing their ambitions. 1 in 2 participants said that gender stereotypes often or always affect girls’ career decisions. From the misled beliefs that girls can’t excel in math or science, or the gender pay gap in almost every industry, these forms of discrimination can create barriers that prevent girls from reaching their full potential.
With 1 in 3 girls revealing they rarely have a positive body image, and only 7% of girls believing their voices and opinions are valued, pervasive gender stereotypes are evidently – and unfortunately – impacting girls’ self-esteem and their feelings of self-worth.
Reinforcing the global problem of gender-based violence, 39% of girls said they rarely or never feel safe from sexual harassment here in Canada. While they feel relatively safe at school, their safety and protection from violence remains a major concern in their day-to-day lives.
While the findings from this research appear to paint a stark reality for girls in Canada, understanding the challenges girls face is the only way to create solutions that will bring about real and lasting change.
Working alongside girls to identify issues and develop solutions is an important part of our work in countries around the world, and now through the collaborative Strong Girls, Strong World program, we’re doing the same in communities across Canada!
We know girls everywhere have the power and potential to create change, and through Strong Girls, Strong World, we’re empowering girls nationwide with the platform, tools, resources and support to become leaders in their communities!
Get involved in Canada
Champion girls’ rights and gender equality right here in Canada. See how you can get involved with Plan International Canada’s Because I am a Girl initiative and be part of local and global change!