Strong Girls, Strong World journey
Nowadays, throughout the world, more than 30 million primary school age girls are not enrolled in school. Even today, in many countries, girls are disproportionally forced to marry early. Another shocking fact – girls all over the world are three times more likely than boys to suffer from malnutrition.
Fortunately, times are changing. Gender equality can be achieved through education and girls around the world have more and more hopes and dreams for their future. They are fighting back and are more determined than ever to achieve their full potential and make a difference in their communities.
A Canada-wide project
It is in this context that the Strong Girls, Strong World project was born. A Canada-wide project originally funded by Status of Women Canada, Plan Canada, YMCA Canada and YWCA Canada, Strong Girls, Strong World kicked off in ten cities in 2015.
These ten projects were led by young women aged 16 to 19 from different walks of life, and allowed each one of them to acquire the necessary means to become agents of change and make a difference by highlighting various issues and obstacles faced by girls all over the world.
The YMCA’s of Quebec and the YWCA Montreal, organizations dedicated to improving the lives of young people, joined together initially for this project to form a stronger and more diverse group.
Strong Girls, Strong World group at the YWCA of Montreal
In 2017, the ten Canadian projects ended, but the group of girls from the YWCA Montreal decided to pursue the project independently, without government funding. The Strong Girls, Strong World group now has about 15 dynamic girls aged 17 to 21 who have joined the YWCA Montreal – young women concerned about social inequalities and looking for a validating and unique experience.
The launch of the Montreal Strong Girls, Strong World group took the form of a retreat in order to build relationships and discuss the different possible directions available to the group. During this enriching retreat filled with reflection and creativity, many initiatives emerged on various topics including self-esteem, domestic violence, sexual exploitation, sexual consent and solidarity.
Mobilizing, inspiring and feminist projects
In its first year, the girls of Strong Girls, Strong World, learned how to create and facilitate workshops on various themes which they then presented to children at three elementary schools.
On March 8, 2016, Strong Girls, Strong World celebrated International Women’s Day. On this occasion, they created a unifying event, an “Open Mic” evening, where sixty people, including three selected personalities, had the chance to read three inspiring feminist texts. The event began with an Aboriginal song “The Song of the Strong Woman”.
In the following years, Strong Girls, Strong World took advantage of March 8th to highlight inspiring projects. In 2017, they launched « Des Femmes et des Maux Mots » photo exhibition featuring a dozen female personalities carefully chosen for their inspiring role in society: Kim Thùy, Sue Montgomery, Dalila Awada, Elisabeth Vallet, Ericka Alneus, Linda Gauthier, Rim Mohsen, Zoonie Nguyen, Guylaine Poirier, Marianne Prairie and Caroline Roy-Blais, as well as the L’Euguélionne feminist bookshop team. A photo book resulted from this exhibition which is the pride of the members of the group and is sold to the public to finance their future projects.
In 2018, Strong Girls, Strong World met and filmed eight inspiring women to create the documentary film IntersectionnELLES. This documentary highlights eight remarkable women of cultural and religious diversity who inspire the community. In the documentary, each woman discusses her life path, her achievements and her reflections on discrimination, and formulates a message of hope for the women of today and tomorrow.
The goal of this documentary was to promote intersectional feminism, equity, equality and social engagement. In order to create the project, Strong Girls, Strong World divided the work according to the strengths and interests of each member; a good example of mutual support and teamwork. The documentary was broadcast for the first time on March 8, 2018 at the YWCA Montreal in front of a crowd of nearly two hundred people. The evening took place in a friendly and engaging atmosphere, a reflection of the young feminists involved. The « Des Femmes et des Maux Mots » exhibition created by Strong Girls, Strong World was displayed for the public to discover or rediscover! A creative space was also available to all those wishing to leave their mark by expressing themselves with feminist messages or thoughts. Following the screening, the public was invited to participate in the traditional “Open Mic” #SlamTon8mars where many people took the opportunity to share their vision about equality and the status of women based on their life experiences.
A model of citizen involvement
This feminist group’s projects have received so much attention that a researcher at the University of Ottawa is doing her master’s thesis on them. She is studying the citizenship education experience by doing a field analysis of the evolution of Strong girls, Strong World.
Strong Girls, Strong World brings together passionate, empowered, committed and confident girls, authors of their own story who have decided to break down stereotypes, push the boundaries, surprise and inspire change one project at a time. Together, they make a difference. The strength of girls is the strength of the world.
The young feminists of the Strong Girls, Strong World program are: Kathryn Beaudoin, Séréna Byrnes, Yixin Cao, Aisha Chaudhry, Mirona Maria Ciungara, Marine Coeurdassier, Léa Dubray, Margot François, Nejma Hamadi, Salma Jahdiel, Maya Khati, Ysé Lavergne, Léa Normandin, Maria Sadikov and Maya Warwick-Brunelle.