Two in three Canadian girls say they have a friend who has been sexually harassed; more than 75 per cent of girls between the ages of 14 and 24 report experiencing gender-based discrimination in their lives; and only 16 per cent of girls say they feel completely safe in public spaces.
That’s according to new data from an online survey of 1,000 females aged 14 to 24, conducted by Nanos Research for Plan International Canada and released on International Day of the Girl.
The findings illustrate how “normal” sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and insecurity is for girls living in Canada, the not-for-profit organization said in a news release.
Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, a global ambassador for Plan International Canada, said it’s important for girls and women alike to continue sharing their experiences of sexual harassment and discrimination in order to encourage others to do the same.
“They have to continue to raise their voices. We cannot stop,” she told CTV’s Your Morning on Thursday. “Girls have the right to come to this life and be treated as equals, to feel safe wherever they go, to have the opportunities that they want to flourish in their own societies.”
Ravicha Ravinthiran, a youth ambassador for Plan International Canada, accompanied Gregoire Trudeau for the interview and shared her thoughts on the survey’s results.
“It makes me angry,” she said. “I think the numbers are unacceptable and we should be working towards decreasing those numbers, but I also feel like showing people those numbers creates a sense of community where we’re able to empower each other.”
On a more optimistic note, the same survey found that more than two thirds of Canadian girls said the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and assault has given them a sense of hopefulness about the future of gender equality.
In order to attain that equality, Gregoire Trudeau said it’s important for the next generation of girls to include themselves in the areas of society they want to change.
“Run for politics, maybe you’ll be a Supreme Court justice one day, shape the industries that you want to see and dream yourself into,” she said. “The future kind of gets less intimidating when you’re the one shaping it.”