President and CEO of Plan International Canada
Canadians have the opportunity to help Stop the Setback for millions of girls and women by supporting organizations like Plan International Canada.
It’s hard to overstate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on every aspect of life, but evidence suggests that it’s disproportionately affecting women and girls — both in Canada and beyond. “We’re seeing decades of progress on gender equality being unravelled virtually overnight,” says Lindsay Glassco, President and CEO of Plan International Canada. “This is impacting an entire generation of potential leaders, largely because of the disruption to education.”
COVID-19’s negative impact on women and girls
The pandemic has forced hundreds of millions of girls out of school, setting back years of progress and potentially arresting the development of an entire generation of women leaders. And for many girls in impoverished communities, the cost of staying home from school is significantly higher than just missing out on valuable knowledge.
“Schools provide a safe place for children,” says Glassco. “Many girls are dealing with the increased risk of domestic violence, child, early and forced marriage and unwanted or early pregnancy.”
“When girls go to school, the research tells us that they tend to be healthier, earn more, and participate more actively in their communities,” continues Glassco. “Education is a powerful tool to grow girls’ agency and leadership and to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty. It’s a human right and an economic necessity.” According to research from Citi Global Insights, economies that achieve 100 percent secondary school completion rates for girls by 2030 will see their GDP boosted by an average of 10 percent.
Global solidarity is crucial to Stopping the Setback
Canadians have the opportunity to help Stop the Setback for millions of girls and women by supporting organizations like Plan International Canada. The not-for-profit runs targeted programs that advance gender equality from the grassroots level to the institutional, working with governments to support legislation that protects girls and women. Its efforts include facilitating remote learning, working with families and healthcare providers to foster support systems and promoting action against gender-based violence in times of crisis.
“The pandemic has reminded us of just how interconnected we are. A virus like COVID-19 knows no borders,” says Glassco. “As Canadians, we have a tradition of defining ourselves by how we help others — especially in times of crisis. This is the time for us to dig in and demonstrate global solidarity.”