December is not just a time for festivities and holiday spirit, it is also a moment to reflect and give thanks for the year that was.
Though 2017 offered its fair share of hurdles, heartbreaks and injustices, we also witnessed some incredible wins this year, especially in the pursuit of girls’ rights and gender equality.
So before we look ahead to the New Year, let’s take a moment to recognize and applaud some of the year’s hard-fought victories and inspiring moments.
Here are my top five favourite “wins” from this year, all of which were made possible by your continued support and generosity.
1. A girl shows that #GirlsBelongHere by sharing the role of Prime Minister for the day
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shared his office with 23-year-old Breanne Lavallée-Heckert as part of Plan International Canada’s #GirlsBelongHere initiative, demonstrating that girls everywhere have the right to pursue their dreams and achieve their full potential. Breanne and Prime Minister Trudeau spent the day discussing critical issues, including prioritizing girls’ and women’s rights in Canada and around the world, applying a feminist lens to policy, and empowering a generation of young people to advance gender equality.
2.Kenya passes historic law to give free sanitary pads to schoolgirls
Girls in Kenya, supported by Plan International, helped lead a nationwide campaign to make sanitary pads free, ensuring that more girls are able to attend school without the fear of being embarrassed or shamed. In June, the girls secured a major victory when Kenya’s president signed the Basic Education Amendment Act into law, which guarantees that girls in state schools will receive “free, sufficient and quality” sanitary pads.
3. Former First Lady, Michelle Obama, inspires thousands of Canadian youth
In November, Plan International Canada partnered with The Economic Club of Canada to host The Economics of Equality: Advancing Women and Girls to Change the World — A Conversation with Former First Lady, Michelle Obama. What made this event truly unique is that HALF of the 3,000 available seats were reserved for youth. Decision-makers and top Canadian business leaders gathered together with youth from across Canada for an in-depth discussion about all that is possible when women and girls have equal access to education and opportunity. In the fight for gender equality, youth are not just tomorrow’s leaders, but today’s too. Here’s a look at some of the youth who were inspired and empowered by this very special event :
4. Four countries in Latin America pass laws banning child marriage
In 2017, four Latin American countries made monumental gains to end child marriage – once and for all! In the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, child marriage has been outlawed and banned with NO exceptions. Although these bans will be instrumental in abolishing child marriage, we know that implementation does not automatically follow. That’s why we will continue to empower and educate girls so that they can exercise their rights and can shape their own futures.
5. Canadians pledge their support to help Change the Birth Story
This summer we called on Canadians endorse our work and help to Change the Birth Story for thousands of women and girls who face the risk of complications from pregnancy and childbirth by empowering them to become leaders of change, and engaging men and boys as partners of change. Canadians once again demonstrated their dedication to advancing girls’ rights by signing their names and showing their support.
These are not just wins for Plan International Canada, but for girls around the world, and I thank you sincerely for helping us to reach the finish line.
Here’s to many more good news stories in 2018!