"Because I am a Girl" is an initiative and movement for equal rights and gender equality for girls around the world.
Girls face many barriers and challenges and are held back because of early pregnancy, early, arranged, and forced marriage, forced dropping out of school and illiteracy, and gender-based and family violence to name a few. Girls around the world face discrimination, exploitation, and oppression, receive less and lower quality healthcare than boys, and have lower educational attainment and literacy rates. Discrimination and exploitation are often the result of cultural and traditional practices in different societies and communities. To help fight discrimination and empower girls, Plan Canada works with community leaders and members in different countries around the world. Countries where projects are currently underway include Ghana, Laos, Mali, and Bangladesh.
Plan Canada has a number of focus areas, including sanitation and access to clean water, health, education, economic security, violence and child protection, child participation, and others. Because I Am a Girl is one initiative of Plan Canada to ensure that girls have access to clean water, healthcare, education, etc. Field workers work in countries such as Malawi, Peru, and Uganda to end gender-based violence, keep schools safe, and create gender-sensitive settings at schools. Many girls drop out of school because of long distances in rural regions, school violence, housework, and poor nutrition. The goal is to educate community members about the importance of gender equality and how traditional views and stereotypes place women in a disadvantaged position. Child marriage is also a serious problem in countries such as Bangladesh, Mali, Chad, the Central African Republic, and Niger. More than half of girls in such countries are married by the age of 18 and forced to drop out of school. Plan Canada works to protect children’s rights by educating community members about the importance of knowledge and education. It is also important to register all children at birth to have official proof of their age. Gender-based violence is also a serious problem in many countries and takes different forms, including psychological and physical, cyber-bulling and bulling, sexual violence, emotional violence, and others. Violence against girls often results in dropping out of school, poor performance, self-injury and self-destructive behaviors, and even permanent disabilities. There are psychological consequences as well, including low self-esteem, eating and sleeping disorders, stress, depression, and suicidal tendencies. Plan Canada works to end violence against girls in developing countries, with the goal of developing practices together with policy-makers, community leaders, families, and individuals. To educate the general public, Plan Canada also offers information, presentation materials, toolkits, publications, and reports.
Visitors are welcome to sponsor or donate to the Because I am a Girl initiative to help build hygiene and water facilities and schools, provide food to girls, develop policies and good practices, change legislation, and register baby girls at birth. Projects focus on adequate nutrition, child protection, family income, and more. Visitors can sponsor individual girls as well to provide essentials such as clean water, quality healthcare, and equal access to education. Girls live in different underdeveloped countries across East, South, and West Africa, Asia, and South America, including Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Timor Leste, Sri Lanka.
Canada is the home of famous women entrepreneurs such as Mandy Rennehan, Susan Niczowski, Krista LaRiviere, Maureen Lucas, and many more.
Krista LaRiviere is a Canadian entrepreneur, tech innovator, and co-founder and CEO of gShift. The company helps businesses around the world to enhance their brand visibility and online presence. gShift offers the full array of professional services, including integrated and influencer marketing, competitive assessment, brand development, social media marketing.
Born in Toronto, Ontario, Susan Niczowski is the president and founder of The Summer Fresh Salads Inc. Her customer base includes major businesses such as restaurants, delis, and grocery chains. Summer Fresh has more than 200 employees and offers a selection of prepared foods such as easy meals, snacks, salads, dessert dips, dips, and hummus. Founded 25 years ago, Summer Fresh offers foods made from quality ingredients and has a library of over 3,000 recipes.
Mandy Rennehan is the CEO and founder of Freshco, a retail and construction facility maintenance company offering services in the Eastern US and Canada. Founded in 1995, the company has three divisions – reconstruction, projects, and maintenance and serves customers such as The Gap, Nike, Apple, Tiffany & Co, and many others. Freshco features preventive and on-demand maintenance programs such as janitorial, pest control, floor care, plumbing, painting, carpentry, electrical, and others. In 2015, the company had a revenue of $10 - $20 million and 89 employees. Mandy Rennehan is also a partner of the WIST Program (Conestoga Women in Skilled Trades) and a winner of the RBC Momentum Award. She was ranked 20th in the 2016 ranking W100 Canada’s Top Female Entrepreneurs.
Maureen Lucas is a Canadian entrepreneur and president of LucasWorks, a human resource and recruitment company, based in Ontario. The company serves customers in London and Windsor and offers recruitment and support services, outplacement services, and health and safety advice. LucasWorks also offers skill based testing in different areas, including legal, industrial, financial, healthcare, accounting, travel. Maureen Lucas herself has more than 20 years of professional experience in the recruitment sector and was ranked 24th in the 2016 ranking W100 Canada’s Top Female Entrepreneurs. LucasWorks had a revenue of $10 - $20 million in 2015 and a total of 328 employees.
Other famous Canadian women entrepreneurs include names such as Shantal Feltham, Sue Bennett, Laura Araneda, Allison Grafton, Leigh Himel, and many others. Leigh Himel is the president and CEO of Gravity Partners, a company that offers advisory and consulting services to help business owners to develop a good brand strategy. Allison Grafton is the president and partner at Rockwood Custom Homes which offers renovations and interior design and architectural design services. Laura Araneda is a Canadian entrepreneur and President of Vic Progressive Diamond Drilling, headquartered in Penobsquis, N.B. The company offers a host of professional services, including mining manpower services, structural improvements, directional drilling, difficult terrain exploration, etc. Other services include heli portable drilling, underground and surface drilling, and core and soil samples. The list of top Canadian women entrepreneurs also includes names such as Chandra Clarke, Louise Vonk, Shannon Lenstra, Noel Asmar, and PJ Ferguson & Jill Dee Ferguson, to name a few.