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Girls Belong Here leadership program gives young women chance to have voices heard

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February 21, 2023
By Talent Canada

Youth participant Muzna (right) contributes to a meeting during her seat share with Michele Bailey, CEO of Blazing, a trailblazing advertising agency (left). Photo: Plan International Canada's website

Girls Belong Here, a youth leadership program from Plan International Canada (PIC) dedicated to equality for girls, is expanding.

The program, previously offered once a year in the fall around International Day of the Girl, will also be run in the spring to coincide with International Women’s Day. This opens up more spots for girls, young women and leaders to participate, it said.

Leading up to International Women’s Day, more than 30 self-identifying young women will be stepping into the roles of CEOs, HR directors, ambassadors, members of parliament, and other leaders at more than 11 partner organizations, including AstraZeneca, Unilever and the Royal Bank of Canada. Over the last seven years, Girls Belong Here has engaged more than 180 girls and young women, according to PIC.

Gender equality is 132 years away: PIC

Programs like Girls Belong Here are helping to promote gender equality, which is estimated to still be 132 years away from being achieved, it said.


“I applied for the Girls Belong Here program to experience firsthand what it’s like to be a woman leader in the workforce. Girls have immense potential that needs to be tapped into and given a platform, and Girls Belong Here does just that,” said Anoushka, a Plan International Canada youth ambassador partnering with the Bank of Montreal (BMO). “Through this experience, I am learning invaluable skills, building lifelong relationships and connections and growing personally. I strongly encourage young girls to apply for this rare, life-changing opportunity.”

‘Seat shares’

Some partner organizations will host “Seat Shares,” through which young women take over the role of a leader, receive mentorship, and have the chance to lead meetings, develop programs and policies and discuss initiatives to address key social issues.

Some partners, such as BMO, are participating in Innovation Hubs, which are half-day engagements during which several participating girls and young women contribute their insights to resolve a specific organizational challenge.

“As someone who has had the privilege of participating in the Girls Belong Here program, I can attest to the positive effect it has on both the youth participants and their mentors. Seeing these brilliant young women step into leadership positions and make their voices heard is a reminder of their limitless potential and the role they play in shaping our world,” said Lindsay Glassco, president and CEO, Plan International Canada. “By partnering with us to expand the program, organizations have the chance to support and advance not only female leadership, but also a more diverse and equal future.”

2023 partners

Partners participating in Plan International Canada’s spring 2023 Girls Belong Here program include:

  • AstraZeneca (global program sponsor)
  • Bank of Montreal (BMO – Canada and USA offices)
  • Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)
  • Pfizer/Alesse
  • Brother International
  • Unilever
  • Fora: Network for Change
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Results Canada
  • University of Alberta
  • YWCA Canada
  • Political decision-makers at various levels of government in Canada

For more information visit plancanada.ca/girlsbelonghere

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