Twenty Wishes for Canadian Girls

  • National Newswatch

October 11th marks the International Day of the Girl Child, and on its second observance, this is what I wish for girls in Canada: that they know the feeling of safety, a warm bed, and a roof over their heads, that they have enough food so they never have to go to school hungry, and that they have loving adults in their lives who will protect and cherish them; that they are exposed to the arts and sports in school, and that they develop a life-long love affair with both;that they are told they can do anything boys can, and that the first time a boy beats them in a race, they are challenged and inspired to work harder for the next time;that they have a coach or a teacher who, when the world is collapsing around them, will always make it better--my beloved gymnastics coach would have boarded a plane for any of ³his girls² if we had called and said we needed him;that they are told they are beautiful, that there is something about them that makes them different than everyone else, and that they sparkle;that they are encouraged to dream their greatest dream, to take every opportunity, and to remember impossible is just a dare;that they learn there are speed bumps in life, and that they will have to dig deep, and find a way around or over them;that they know the endless opportunities available to them, that more of them choose science, technology and math, and that some even reach for the stars;that they are taught to live healthy lives, to know AIDS is not the same as a cold and requires more than a pill to survive, that there are more than three STIs, and what is needed to protect themselves;that they are taught diversity is beautiful, that they can travel the world in cities like Toronto or Vancouver, that families come in different forms and sizes, and that all are beautiful;that they never know violence--emotional, physical or verbal--and if they ever do, they would know how to get out of damaging relationships, take action and protect themselves;that when they graduate they would make the same wage as the young men who sat in their classes, that they would earn a dollar for every dollar men earn, and that no one would ever ask them during an interview when they planned to get pregnant;that they understand they can be catalysts, like rain drops that become ripples, and change the world;that they know young women around the world who have the same choices and rights as they have in Canada, and that if women around the world do not, they would fight for their sisters abroad;that they know they can represent their communities and serve Canada in a Parliament where the goal is fifty percent women, and not just-one third, and if the goal is wrong, they can change it;that they find someone to lean on during the tough times, and to celebrate during the joyous times;that if they choose to have children, that there would be real child care choices available to them, and that Canada would no longer rank 25 of 25 for early learning and child care;that if they need help for food, their children would not go hungry because a national breakfast program would be in place;that whether they choose to stay at home and look after their children, care for their aging parents, or volunteer at the Legion, their work would be appreciated and valued; andthat as they age, there would be the necessary supports so they could age in dignity, and if possible, stay in their homes and in their communities where they contributed so much. On International Day of the Girl Child, let us all reflect on what we need to do better in Canada to allow our girls to achieve their greatest dreams, and to indeed have it all should they choose.Kirsty Duncan, M.P., is the Liberal party critic for CIDA, consular affairs, and status of women.