Kellie Leitch, Minister of Labour and Minister for Status of Women, chats with Alaina Podmorow, right, founder of Little Women for Little Women in Afghanistan, during a gathering of students at Aberdeen Hall Preparatory School. The students sent out messages of support for International Day of the Girl celebrations, which take place Friday.
The equality of opportunity shared by boys and girls here is not replicated in many other countries, Status of Women Minister Kellie Leitch said.
"I know what you boys might be thinking," Leitch told a group of students at Aberdeen Hall, a private school. "'My girl classmates have the same opportunities as me.' But in other places in the world, that's not the case."
Leitch said we are "very fortunate" that Canada's girls and young women can aspire to be whatever they want to be. She contrasted that with the situation in places such as Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan, where girls routinely face threats and may be the victims of violence for simply
In the company of Kelowna-Lake Country MP Ron Cannan, Leitch was in Kelowna to promote the International Day of the Girl, which happens Friday.
She was at Aberdeen Hall because one of the school's students, Alaina Podmorow, was Canada's honorary youth ambassador to the United Nations last year.
Podmorow, who has spearheaded fundraising projects to help women and girls in Afghanistan go to school, relayed the story of Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani girl who was shot in the head by Taliban insurgents as she walked home from school.
"I was sickened and completely shocked when I heard what happened," Podmorow said, describing the shooting of Malala as a "vicious and barbaric act."
Malala continues to recover from the shooting, Podmorow said. "Her actions show the world the power of fearlessness in a fearful world," Podmorow said.
At Aberdeen Hall, tuition ranges from $10,000 up to $13,000. Despite the cost, enrolment is growing rapidly and construction has just started on a new high school building.
"Occasionally, you forget that not everyone is as fortunate as this," said Grant Ozechowsky, director of the senior school.
Leitch asked Aberdeen Hall students to sign a statement in support of women's rights that she will take to the United Nations on Friday. Canadians can also send an electronic postcard to celebrate the day by visiting dayofthegirl.ca.