“Moved. Inspired. Loved. Empowered. Potential. Strong.”
These are just a few of the words our Strong Girls, Strong World participants used to describe their recent experience at the Strong Girls, Strong World Summit in September.
For nearly two years, Plan International Canada, YMCA Canada & YWCA Canada worked in partnership with Status of Women to implement girl-led projects across Canada. These passionate young women are leading projects in 11 communities, stretching from Vancouver to Halifax, and inspiring change across the country. Each group has worked hard to identify key issues that girls are facing in their communities and to create action plans that generate positive change.
And while all 11 groups have been working towards a common goal, this was their first opportunity to meet each other! The Summit was a chance for representatives from each group to come together, meet their fellow “strong girls” and learn about the collective impact that the Strong Girls, Strong World program created in communities across Canada.
Who are these Strong Girls?
This group of young women came together from diverse communities and with a unique set life experiences. But whether they were attending workshops about community-led activism, participating in action planning to take their impact to the next level, or roasting s’mores on an open fire, it was evident that these participants had a common uniting purpose – to create positive change for girls across Canada.
“This has been a great leadership opportunity,” beams one of the participants. “I’ve never been to a real summit before. These are my kind of people!” The young women quickly developed deep and meaningful friendships with their fellow advocates, and were able to share their passions, visions and success stories.
And there have been some truly phenomenal success stories! Some groups have hosted large-scale community events, while others are running workshops in local schools. Some are encouraging young women to pursue leadership roles, others are offering a unifying voice for some of the most vulnerable girls in their community. Regardless of their approach, each group has had a tremendous impact on the girls, women, boys and men around them.
- Our two Quebec groups are inspiring change – one group is leading workshops in schools about women’s rights, intersectionality, consent and equality. The other is hosting a photo exhibit that celebrates and shares personal stories about inspiring women from their community.
- On the West Coast, our Vancouver group is gearing up for a conference that will address issues of social justice and raise awareness about women’s portrayal in the media.
- In Halifax, a group of young mothers are creating a “Zine” for new moms, teaching them about the joys, challenges and leadership opportunities of being a young mother.
My highlight has been getting out of my comfort zone. I met all these people I’d never met before… I have an end goal now and know what I need to do in order to accomplish it.
Are you feeling inspired yet? We sure are!
One participant from Toronto said it best: “My highlight has been getting out of my comfort zone. I met all these people I’d never met before… I have an end goal now and know what I need to do in order to accomplish it.”
These young women are proving you are never too young to be an agent of change in your community, and that when our girls are strong, our communities are too. The Summit was an opportunity for leaders to come together, unite around a common purpose, and head back to their hometowns energized and ready to continue empowering girls and women in communities across Canada.
Want to be an agent of change?
Want to take a leadership role in your community? Consider starting a Because I am a Girl Club in your school, or hosting a fundraiser to support our Because I am a Girl movement in your community. Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more tips on how you can get started!