Plan International/Howard Padgett
Without options to excel outside of the household, many girls are kept silent and their needs are left unaddressed. Unfortunately, gender and age make refugee girls vulnerable to unique and especially dangerous challenges. Some are forced into child marriage in an effort to escape starvation for themselves or their families, often with older men.
When the news broke that President Trump's administration might be ending the Let Girls Learn initiative -- a program that provides educational resources and tools to adolescent girls in underdeveloped countries -- there was an immediate outcry on social media. What reason could there be to end such an inarguably positive initiative?
Given the fragile nature of our planet's environment, there are lots of things to think about this Earth Day But this year, I'm thinking about how climate change -- and the droughts that are becoming more frequent and more severe as a result -- is affecting some of the most vulnerable communities in the world.
Siegfried Modola / Reuters
We are all learning to find our voices and we are all advocates for a cause, whether or not we realize it. So take up space, and raise your voice. If you don't know what to say, then sing, dance, or build something. Find a way to tell your story.
Plan International Canada
Despite being outlawed in 2011, girls in remote Kenyan communities are still undergoing [female genital mutilation], most often during the December school holiday. But some people are working hard to change this rite of passage.
The Washington Post via Getty Images
As a Youth Advisory Council, our purpose is to provide Plan International Canada with guidance and insights that enable the organization to represent and mobilize a national network of youth, so it can live up to its commitment to improving the lives of children and youth around the world.
Ahmed Jadallah / Reuters
Our presence was impossible to ignore, and showed what was possible as we begin a new sort of movement. A movement with women at the helm. A movement with no leader, instead motivated by a unifying commitment to the fight for justice and equality.
Plan International/Saikat Mojumder
Fears that the divisive politics which characterized Brexit and the U.S. presidential election will undermine liberal democracies across the globe, and put the world's most vulnerable people in harm's way, have never been greater.
They are not misplaced -- right now real lives and a meaningful Canadian identity are at stake.
Madeline Baker/Plan International Canada
From magazine covers to real life -- girls are still discriminated against. The reality is that young girls face more adversity than others due to their age coupled with their gender, making them one of the most vulnerable groups in the world.
Harry How via Getty Images
The enormity of the humanitarian crises facing the world are sometimes difficult to comprehend, let alone productively address. But humanitarian workers are working hard in Tanzania and in other countries around the world to support people living in the most difficult situations imaginable.
Through unrelenting determination and sheer talent, you finally reach the world's greatest theatre of athleticism -- a level of competition few ever reach. You are an Olympian. Then you see it: the headline describing your victory reads, "Wife of a Bears' lineman wins a bronze medal today in Rio Olympics."
Partnering with men and boys involves helping them develop a healthy, non-violent, and respectful outlook towards themselves and their relationships, and models of manliness where they are equals amongst their peers. Engaging boys and adolescents in the process at all levels is also key to empowering a generation of young people with the capacity to claim their own rights and respect those of everyone around them.
Each refugee-producing situation is different and could be caused by a range of catalysts, including war, political unrest, terrorism or even climate change. However, within each situation, there is one constant: that the needs of girls consistently go unheard and unmet.
I am calling on all Canadians to empower girls because we live in a globally connected world where rape and other forms of gender-based violence are pervasive. Canadians must realize that we are only as strong as our most vulnerable and that girls are among the most vulnerable population in the world.