Day of the Girl and Boy, in Burnaby

staying-true-to-you-in-a-hyper-world16The Day of the Girl proved to be a day of inspiration for parents and teenagers, men and women, and boys and girls. Two after-school events in the Centre for Dialogue at Byrne Creek Community School provided a forum for discussion among those concerned at the extreme gender stereotypes influencing young people today and professionals who are on the front lines with the effects of media and societal pressure for young people to conform to rigid beauty and behaviour standards.

The topic, hyper-masculinity and hyper-sexualization in the media and society and the negative impact of these, attracted parents with sons or daughters attending a Burnaby school, and high school students who registered through their schools or on the advice of their parents. The events were intended to move the conversation about gender equality and justice forward and to create a conversation for and about young people as they work to find a meaningful path for themselves.

100% of the audiences (of those supplying feedback) concluded that the information provided at the events was helpful, with 80% finding it extremely helpful. “It showed many different perspectives on the topics discussed and was catered towards girls and boys as well. The keynote speakers were all well chosen and were of different ages, genders, and occupations which meant many people were able to understand and relate to what was said.” one audience member noted.

This was the first time that Burnaby’s Global Learning Programs had partnered with a branch of the national organization, United Nations Association in Canada (UNAC), with support of AJC Media Group. UNAC’s mission is to elevate awareness of the issues of the United Nations, in particular with Canadian young people.

CBC interview
Greg Neumann with Serene Mitchell in CBC Studio 10 for BC Almanac interview.

AJC Media Group secured two interviews in Metro Vancouver media for Greg Neumann, a department head in Burnaby and a co-president for UNAC Vancouver. He spoke with Roundhouse Radio about the Day of the Girl, in addition to CBC’s BC Almanac on the open line, with the youth panelist, Serene Mitchell.

Dawn Black generously donated her time as moderator of one panel event; she is an active grandmother with the Stephen Lewis Foundation and former Assistant Deputy Speaker of BC, among many other achievements.

Susan Murakami, Social and Emotional Learning Teacher from the Surrey School District, discusses strategies for boys and girls to maintain wellness in the face of skewed media messaging. Peggy Chen of Strong Girls, Strong World gave pertinent comments about the relevance of her work.

“The panelists were very knowledgeable and had lots to talk about.” was one testimonial from the audiences. Gratitude is due to the panel members who over the two events included: Susan Murakami, Randy Paterson, Peggy Chen, Serene Mitchell, Barry Macdonald, and Jordan Pickell. All panel members are professionals and experts in related areas, and located in Metro Vancouver.

Credit is also due to Dr. Richard Price’s students from the Ethics and World Politics ambassadors_unac_bluecourse at UBC who committed 25 hours each to the promotion and implementation of the event.

The purpose of the special focus created for the International Day of the Girl Child is to recognize girls’ human rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world, and to change this reality. Young girls continue to be a disadvantaged group around the world, excluded from many opportunities in society and denied economic and social rights.

At the same time, boys experience unique challenges associated with how the dominant ideals of masculinity structures their development and makes belonging and relationships more difficult. Transforming the ways boys become men is a key strategy in achieving gender justice, much as breaking the stereotypes of traditional gender roles of girls and women is a key strategy. Successful work with both boys and girls will bring the achievement of equality between the two genders as partners of development, human rights, humanitarian action and peace and security, and ultimately, the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.