by Tiana Bucknor
At the beginning of April, I was invited to the Youth for Gender Equality (YGE) Writer’s Conference and Orientation Workshop, and the Y7 summit in Ottawa, ON by Plan International Canada. The conference was to include 15 other YGE facilitations and note takers from across Canada and allowed us to work together to build our knowledge on how to effectively advocate for change to advance gender equality. The Y7 summit is hosted by the Young Diplomats of Canada and is a premier international youth conference that brings together young leaders representing the Group of Seven (G7) countries.
Between these two events, I was able to expand my knowledge on gender equality and the power of youth to make change. At the YGE conference, I learned more about gender identity and intersectionality. We discussed how gender equality not only concerns men and women, but also those who do not fit on the binary gender spectrum. We also discussed how race, religion, and socioeconomic standing affect people, and how these parts of identity must be taken into consideration when discussing gender equality. As an example, in Canada there are jobs in which white women are paid more than women of colour, demonstrating that we are affected not only by our gender but by other parts of our identity intersectionally as well.
The Y7 summit allowed us, the youth, to put our concerns and solutions on the global agenda, as the outcomes are passed on to global policy makers to make the concerns and innovative solutions of people heard. Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau spoke passionately to us about the importance of believing in oneself and being bold. One specific thing she spoke on was her disbelief in the saying “the youth are the leaders of tomorrow,” as she believes that youth can be the leaders of today. Her talk and the summit overall showed me the importance of our voices as youth and how we must truly be educated on issues of inequality in order to create real change
Thank you to our executive director Shelley Nicholls, the women of Plan International Canada, my wonderful Jays Care chaperone Rebecca Harvey, and everyone else who was involved in making my experience so amazing. I am so glad to walk away with new friends who I met at these events, who truly are some of the most passionate, bold, and intelligent people I’ve ever met.
Working towards gender equality is something I am passionate about and Girls Inc. of Halton has provided me with such an amazing space to do just that. I wish to see a future where my 4-year-old cousin Maya will grow up and be paid just as much as a man does; a world that does not degrade her; a world where people believe she can easily succeed in the same opportunities as a man.
All people, whether they are a woman, man, or someone of another gender, deserve to be treated equally. Let’s make change.