International Day of the Girl hopeful for future change

By: Emma Tranter
“Education and literacy for girls is still very far behind. We need to look at what is happening,” said former senator Landon Pearson.

Honourable Landon Pearson addresses the crowd at International Day of the Girl at Carleton University on Wednesday Oct. 9. Photo by Emma Tranter

By: EMMA TRANTER

“Education and literacy for girls is still very far behind. We need to look at what is happening,” said former senator Landon Pearson.

This is what Pearson had to say in her opening speech at an event honouring the International Day of the Girl at Carleton University on Wednesday, Oct. 9.

Oct. 11 marks the second International Day of the Girl, a day created by the United Nations to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world. The Landon Pearson Centre for the Study of Childhood and Children’s Rights sponsored the event.

Honourable Landon Pearson addresses the crowd at International Day of the Girl at Carleton University on Wednesday Oct. 9. Photo by Emma Tranter

Honourable Landon Pearson addresses the crowd at International Day of the Girl event on Wednesday Oct. 9. Photo by Emma Tranter

Third and fourth-year Girlhood Studies students set up booths in the University Centre’s Galleria, where the event was held. They illustrated issues that girls face in today’s society, including, human trafficking, malnutrition and media pressure. Many also focused on the sexualization of women.

“My 16-year-old granddaughter tells me that 80 per cent of boys in her high school have pornography apps on their iPhones. This is resulting in pressures being put on her and her friends that are extremely difficult,” Pearson, now a child’s rights advocate, said in her speech.

The Honourable Pearson went on to discuss the differences between the situations girls face today, and those faced by girls when she was a child. She noted that because of today’s media, girls are more informed about global issues regarding gender equality, and therefore are more inclined to act on these issues.

“It’s the choices that girls make that will make the difference. To make choices you have to be freed from a whole number of constraints … You need to not be spending every single moment of your life trying to survive,” Pearson explained.

Student, Jenna Hood, who’s taking a class on girlhood in Women and Gender Studies, chose to make her display on child sex trafficking in Canada.

“Some of the questions people have been asking us are, does this really happen in Canada?” Hood said. “People are so unaware that it goes on here.”

Hood’s classmate, Sarah Gardner, addressed the issues surrounding Canada’s human trafficking laws.

“A lot of times we rely on law enforcement to deal with the issues but to actually deal with an issue it has to be reported first. A lot of times the women or girls aren’t in the same spot to actually be reported, so how can you report on something that’s not really seen?” Gardner said.

In the closing of her speech, Pearson addressed the students from Carleton’s girlhood studies class personally.

“I think the future will look good if you all take charge. The future lies in the hands of girls. I’m really quite hopeful,” said Pearson. “It’s a sisterhood. It’s a challenge.”

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