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Guest blogger


Reading Time: 3 minutes
Guest blogger

Reading Time: 3 minutes

This International Women’s Day, 50 youth from Plan International Canada’s Champions of Change clubs joined Plan International Canada Global Ambassador Madame Sophie Grégoire Trudeau and Plan International Canada President and CEO Caroline Riseboro in a frank conversation about how gender stereotypes perpetuate a harmful cycle of inequality.

“Achieving full gender equality will take the efforts of everyone,” said Madame Grégoire Trudeau. “We have achieved so much, but there is a still a long road ahead of us and we all need to actively participate in challenging the status quo.”

Sophie Trudeau engages with youth

Roundtable discussion with Plan International Canada Global Ambassador Madame Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, Caroline Riseboro, President and CEO of Plan International Canada, and 50 youth members and supporters of Champions of Change Clubs.

In Canada and around the world, men, boys, women and girls, are all impacted by restrictive gender narratives that limit their potential, define their roles, and dim their dreams.

But imagine the possibilities of living in a world where everyone could enjoy the same rights and freedoms regardless of their gender. That’s exactly what these youth did, by sharing their stories, ideas and dreams for the future. They started by listing some of the rigid gender roles prescribed to boy and girls.

Group writing on paper

Youth participants list the many gender stereotypes they are faced with everyday.

They felt that girls are expected to be:

• Submissive, and not bold or loud
• Insecure, not independent
• Empathetic, not dominating
• Victimized, not embrace their sexuality
• Sensitive, not empowered

While boys are expected to be:

• Tough and macho, not self-deprecating
• Unemotional, not kind or expressive
• Aggressive, not level-headed
• Sexually powerful, not introverted
• Protective and jealous, not loving

These are the stories we’ve all heard from childhood. But today these youth broke down these rigid boxes, refusing to be divided and confined by gender roles and expectations.

Together the youth, Madame Grégoire Trudeau and Caroline Riseboro explored how these narrow categories do not define us, and how we can begin to change the story for all genders.


“None of us will have the opportunity to thrive if we don’t change the story about how gender norms influence all of our lives,” said Plan International Canada President and CEO Caroline Riseboro. “We must all come together to invest in gender equality and end harmful gendered expectations so that we can build a better world for all of humanity.”

Group of youth in a circle holding hands

To mark International Women’s Day, 50 youth from Plan International Canada Champions of Change Clubs joined together to help #ChangetheStory and unite for gender equality.


Continue the conversation by commenting below or using the #ChangetheStory to let the world know what gender equality means to you.

Together, we can #ChangetheStory for all genders across Canada and the globe.

Tweet your support to #ChangetheStory