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Ottawa earmarks $750K for grassroots projects for girls

Status of Women Minister Kellie Leitch (right) poses with Girls Advisory Council member Helen Zhou in Toronto on March 8, 2015. HANDOUT/Kellie Leitch

Ottawa has announced $750,000 in funding for projects to encourage girls and young women, as well as a council made up of young women who will advise the government.

Kellie Leitch, Minister of Status of Women, announced the plan at an event in Toronto on International Women’s Day (IWD) on Sunday.

“On International Women’s Day, I am proud to launch a new Government of Canada project that will support leadership opportunities for young women and girls in 10 communities across Canada, along with a new Girls Advisory Council to engage girls on their priorities and perspectives,” she said.

“Both of these initiatives highlight what we know is true — when girls have a strong start in life they can achieve their full potential.”

Leitch said the council will influence the government’s work to empower girls to be leaders, to mentor them and to prevent violence against them in the real world and online.

Four girls have been chosen to be on the council so far — including Helen Zhou, student council president of Toronto’s Central Technical School — and Leitch will be choosing about two dozen more to join them.

Young Canadian women between 15 and 24 years of age who want to be on the council can enter a video contest online until April 15.

The government’s two-year initiative — Strong Girls, Strong World — will also create 10 grassroots projects to build decision-making and leadership skills in girls and young women.

The announcement comes a day after thousands took part in an IWD march in downtown Toronto, one of many such events around the world.

More than one million people took part in the first IWD in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland in 1911

It has since become a global celebration of women and the advances made toward equality, and is a national holiday in countries like China, Russia, Vietnam and Bulgaria.