Georgia is an active members of multiple Plan International Canada youth initiatives including the Speakers Bureau. She is passionate about girls’ rights and believe that change is possible by amplifying the voices of youth.
Recently, I had the opportunity to speak as a youth panelist on the first Change-Makers Forum for the #ChangetheBirthStory campaign. As a Maternal and Newborn Child Health (MNCH) advocate for Plan International Canada, I have been learning about maternal healthcare issues in developing countries since the start of the youth advocates program, but my participation on the Change-Maker Forum opened my eyes to the power of individual stories. The impactful stories shared by the panelists reignited my passion to continue learning and advocating for the work Plan is doing to improve maternal health.
My fellow panelists, Dr. Tanjina Mirza, Saadya Hamdani, and Natalie Williams, are incredible women who have dedicated their lives to international development and advancing gender equality in their individual fields. I am privileged to have spoken alongside them and provided my thoughts on pressing healthcare advocacy topics.
Sitting on a panel with such accomplished women inspired me to continue working towards my endorsement goal as a youth advocate, and to be unafraid of facilitating in-depth, intersectional conversations about healthcare.
Highlights from the panelists
Tanjina: listening to her tell stories about her time as a medical professional and how she delivered babies in conditions without adequate healthcare resources was a stark reminder of what remains to be done to improve the status of maternal and newborn child health in developing countries.
Saadya: I learned from Saadya, the gender-transformative approach Plan International takes when designing and implementing MNCH programming. It reminded me of the strides that have been made to achieve gender equality in local communities.
Natalie: listening to Natalie describe meeting fathers in [Ghana] who understood the importance of accessible healthcare reminded me of the importance of involving men and boys in the gender equality conversations occurring in Canada.
Hope for the future
In these tumultuous political times, the conversations from the Change-Maker Forum made me hopeful for the future. In the face of fear and despair, we must remember that there are people working tirelessly to ensure safety and security of those in danger. Through speaking on the panel, I was able to reflect on my own privilege as a Canadian with access to comprehensive healthcare services, and also express my excitement for the initiatives youth advocates are championing across Canada.
I am grateful to have participated in the Change-Maker Forum with such inspiring women, and I am optimistic about how Canadians can #ChangetheBirthStory together.
I stand with Canada to change the birth story because I believe that every adolescent girl, woman and child has the right to be healthy and to live a life free of discrimination.