Canada can become the first country to achieve gender equality and serve as a model for the rest of the world if it adopts a series of recommendations outlined in the Youth-Led Roadmap for Gender Equality: A Plan to Achieve Sustainable Development Goal 5 in Canada. Developed by the Youth for Gender Equality (YGE) initiative, which was co-led by Plan International Canada and the Canadian Teachers’ Federation, generously funded by TD Bank Group, and facilitated in partnership by more than 20 organizations, the Roadmap provides tangible actions for individual Canadians, the private sector, and government at all levels to take towards gender equality in Canada.
The uniquely youth-led Roadmap—with an official launch at the Women Deliver 2019 Global Conference in Vancouver, on Tuesday, June 4, 2019—reflects the powerful perspectives of over 300 youth from all over Canada with diverse experiences and backgrounds, such as youth who have experienced homelessness, Indigenous youth, young people of colour, newcomers to Canada and members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, among others, as well as individuals from remote and rural communities in Canada.
The Roadmap includes 20 recommendations that individual Canadians can take today to achieve gender equality within their homes, communities and beyond. It also includes more than 40 additional recommendations targeted at public institutions, the private sector and governments to help Canada achieve Sustainable Development Goal 5: Gender equality, by the goals’ end date of 2030.
“The ways that youth experience and understand the very real issues of today’s society, including gender equality, are too often overlooked, despite the fact that youth must bear the brunt of these issues,” says Maddi G., 24, from Alberta, who was directly involved in developing the Roadmap. “We have the power to achieve gender equality, but only if everyone commits to intentionally re-evaluating the ways in which we work, live and socialize on a daily basis and make a clear commitment to striving for equality for all – this includes governments, institutions and businesses.”
“Traditionally, youth haven’t been included in the policy discussions that will shape their future. By engaging and amplifying their voices, this initiative adds an essential perspective that’s been missing and changes how we look at and understand gender equality,” says Caroline Riseboro, President and CEO of Plan International Canada. “The Roadmap is the first ever youth-led recommendation document of its kind for achieving SDG 5 in the world, and a testament to the power of young people. I urge all decision-makers to take note of their recommendations and seize the moment to ensure Canada leads the way.”
“The creation of the Roadmap and the partnership between the CTF-FCE and Plan International Canada is a shining example of how real progress can be achieved,” says Heidi Yetman, CTF-FCE Vice-President and Chair of the Advisory Committee on the Status of Women. “Not only does the Roadmap clearly set the direction that we must collectively travel, it is a shining example of how empowering youth allows them to influence the decisions that directly impact their lives.”
Youth for Gender Equality is unprecedented in its “youth for youth” approach. Youth are directly affected by and involved in the dynamics of these policy discussions, and the amplification of their voices adds crucial focus to the conversation of gender equality where no policy discussion has before.
The Youth-Led Roadmap for Gender Equality offers concrete recommendations for ending gender discrimination in economic, political, education and health systems. This includes:
- Make Canadian workplaces inclusive, and free from discrimination and harassment.
- Ensure anti-harassment policies are implemented, funded and properly evaluated.
- Advance pay equity for all people and within all sectors particularly due to low-wage and unpaid internships’ disproportionate impact on girls and women.
- Create a national strategy for affordable, accessible and quality childcare to support young parents.
- Shift power dynamics towards gender equality.
- Promote gender equality training for leadership at all levels (government, civil society, private sector, schools).
- Examine personal assumptions/behaviours and commit to a culture of equality for all.
- Empower all genders (binary and non-binary) to pursue positions of power, authority and leadership.
- Set a new standard for gender equality inclusivity in education systems.
- Revise curriculums to be gender equal, providing accessible resources for people in Canada to learn about gender equality using an intersectional lens.
- Teach comprehensive sexual education.
- Ensure Ministries of Education provide schools with accessible resources, such as peer-to-peer groups to learn and discuss gender equality, sexual health, healthy relationships, and gender-based violence.
- Build gender responsive and inclusive health systems.
- Prioritize Indigenous health, stepping up support for survivors of violence, and implementing adequate culturally appropriate health facilities and services.
- Ensure adolescent-friendly health services are provided across provinces and territories that are accessible, non-judgmental and supportive of adolescent parents.
While the launch of the Roadmap is a key milestone, the work is far from over. Plan International Canada will engage youth from all over Canada to advocate for change. This engagement will include training and securing opportunities for youth to share the Roadmap with decision-makers and leaders within their communities to bring the recommendations within it to life. As well, Plan International Canada is actively working with partner organizations to explore areas of collaboration and analyzing how best to integrate recommendations from the Roadmap into domestic programming to enhance our impact on gender equality in Canada.
Change the Lens: Ways to Take Action to Advance Gender Equality
The Roadmap demonstrates the power of youth and the value in amplifying their voices. Canadians are encouraged to change the lens on gender equality by taking a new, youth-led approach: we must look at the full picture of gender inequality through the eyes of young people in all their diversity who are affected most and ensure that their perspectives bring a more equal future into focus.
- Visit plancanada.ca/YGE to download the Youth-Led Roadmap for Gender Equality, learn more about the recommendations and how to get involved.
- Learn more about how to make a personal commitment to gender equality in your life and spheres influence, and join the conversation with @PlanCanada on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook using #YouthforGenderEquality.
- People between the ages of 14 and 24 are encouraged to join the Youth for Gender Equality initiative by signing up at plancanada.ca/YGE.
Youth for Gender Equality Initiative, ©Plan International Canada. Youth-Led Roadmap for Gender Equality: A Plan to Achieve Sustainable Development Goal 5 in Canada (2019). Available for download at plancanada.ca/YGE.
For Download: Multimedia assets, including a social media toolkit, are available for download.
About Youth for Gender Equality
In 2015, at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit in September 2015, Heads of State adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, comprised of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including a standalone goal on achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls (SDG5). This resulted in an important opportunity for youth and supporting organizations to begin work towards developing the Youth-Led Roadmap for Gender Equality: A Plan to Achieve Sustainable Development Goal 5 in Canada. Plan International Canada united with like-minded partners to provide a safe space for youth across Canada to convene, share their experiences, and focus their attention on how to achieve SDG5 in Canada and abroad.
About Plan International Canada
Plan International Canada is a member of a global organization dedicated to advancing children’s rights and equality for girls. We have been building powerful partnerships for children for over 80 years and are now active in more than 70 countries. We are calling on all Canadians to Defy Normal: to believe in the power and potential of every child and to take a stand anywhere children are oppressed, exploited or left behind and anywhere girls aren’t equally valued. Together, we can create a world where all unleash their full potential. Visit plancanada.ca for more information and follow @PlanCanada on social media to #DefyNormal and join the conversation.
About Canadian Teachers’ Federation
Founded in 1920, the Canadian Teachers’ Federation is the national voice for the teaching profession. As the national alliance of provincial and territorial teacher organizations, the CTF-FCE represents over 273,000 elementary and secondary school teachers across Canada. The CTF-FCE is also a member of Education International, the global body of national education organizations in 173 countries.