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Only 9% of Girls in Canada aspire to be Prime Minister, says Plan International global survey – Canada NewsWire

Gender discrimination, lack of representation and low confidence are main barriers to girls’ and young women’s political participation

, /CNW/ – Unchecked gender discrimination, stereotyping and blatant sexism have conspired to tell girls that there is no place for them in politics. The outcome? 94% of girls and young women Plan International spoke to in Canada said they face challenges participating in the political process. Only 12% of girls and young women expressed an interest in becoming an elected representative, and even fewer aspire to one day become Prime Minister at 9%.

“Girls and women are not welcome on the political stage, and we need to change that,” says Lindsay Glassco, President and CEO of Plan International Canada. “They must see themselves as leaders and political actors and we need their voices. It’s up to all of us to break down the barriers that prevent girls from engaging in political discourse, and it needs to start well before girls reach voting age.”

Released today, Plan International’s 2022 State of the World’s Girls Report, Equal Power Now: Girls, Young Women and Political Participation, captures the perspectives of 29,000 girls and women aged 15-24 from 29 countries. The research focuses on political participation – defined as the voluntary activities undertaken by individuals, including within formal political spheres, institutions, and communities. The report shows that gender discrimination, lack of representation and confidence are the main barriers constraining girls’ political participation.

The report found that girls and young women can feel disengaged from political life because of abuse women in politics face. One-third say they don’t believe politics is open to young women’s engagement or participation, and about half of girls and young women believe women in public life are not treated fairly: 46% of respondents agree that women politicians suffer abuse and intimidation, and 51% say that women are judged for how they look or dress.

“When girls witness the systemic discrimination and abuse our women political leaders face, it can deter those who might have considered engaging in politics otherwise,” says Glassco. “In the end, we all pay the price because we are missing out on the valuable contributions of girls and young women to make a positive difference in the world.”

Across all areas of political participation, the report found that girls and young women feel poorly represented by the politicians elected to serve them, yet the vast majority (97% globally and 96% in Canada) believe participating in politics is important. 38% of girls and young women feel that Canadian politicians do not listen to them, and 36% feel politicians do not talk about the issues affecting women and girls. In Canada, the issues that matter most to girls and young women include environmental issues, including pollution and deforestation, and climate change (62%), mental and physical health, including sexual and reproductive health and rights (59%), and discrimination on the base of race and ethnicity, and LGBTIQ+ rights (52%).

“Girls are political. They know their participation in civic spaces is important to improve their lives and that of society, but they feel left out of the political process,” says Glassco. “It’s critical that girls and young women’s voices and concerns are heard – critical to influencing the policies and decisions that shape our lives.”

Confidence among girls and young women is another significant barrier identified in the report, particularly in Canada, where respondents displayed a greater lack of confidence than their global counterparts. Almost 40% of girls and young women in Canada do not feel confident speaking in front of their peers about a social, political or economic issue, and 41% do not feel confident persuading government representatives on an issue they’re passionate about. In addition, 60% of girls and young women said they do not feel confident about standing as a candidate in an election. 

“It should be concerning to us as a society that smart and capable girls and young women do not even feel confident to speak about a political issue in front of their peers. It’s no wonder they can’t imagine themselves as elected representatives. While there is no doubt that we have made progress over the past decade, these findings are a reminder that we still have much work to do to support girls as they claim their political leadership and power,” concluded Glassco.

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Additional report findings from Canada

  • 12% of girls and young women are happy with the decisions of political leaders
  • 55% of girls and young women have lost trust in their political leaders
  • 41% of girls and young women do not feel confident persuading government representatives on an issue they’re passionate about
  • 65% of respondents say it is important for girls and young women to participate in politics to act as role models for the next generation
  • 35% of girls and young women say they don’t see any women who inspire them to engage or participate in politics35% of girls and young women say they don’t know how decisions are made regarding policies
  • 57% of girls and young women say they gained their political knowledge at home from their family

Additional report global findings

  • 11% of girls and young women are happy with the decisions of political leaders
  • 55% of girls and young women have lost trust in their political leaders
  • 34% of girls and young women do not feel confident persuading government representatives on an issue they’re passionate about
  • 56% of respondents say it is important for girls and young women to participate in politics to act as role models for the next generation
  • 54% of girls and young women say they gained their political knowledge at home from their family

Read the full report here. 

ABOUT THE 2022 STATE OF THE WORLD’S GIRLS REPORT

Plan International’s 2022 State of the World’s Girls Report Equal Power Now: Girls, Young Women and Political Participation is based on research conducted among 28,751 girls and women, aged 15 to 24, from 29 countries (Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, France, Germany, Guinea, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Malawi, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Peru, Philippines, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Togo, UK, USA, Vietnam, Zambia). The data was collected from February to April 2022 by IPSOS and GeoPoll on behalf of Plan International and consisted of a large-scale survey and two sets of qualitative interviews. 

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 85 years and are now active in more than 75 countries.

Visit plancanada.ca for more information and follow @PlanCanada on social media to join the conversation.

SOURCE Plan International Canada

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For further information: Media inquiries: Nathaniel Wallace, Plan International Canada, Paradigm Public Relations, [email protected], 416-413-5194