We must ensure girls grow up in safety and leave behind poverty and abuse

OPSEU Provincial Women's Committee - SEFPO Comite provincial des femmes logo

Poverty, abuse, inadequate education and child marriages are some of the challenges that many girls around the world continue to face as we mark the International Day of the Girl Child on Monday, October 11. We wish the day could be solely devoted to celebrating the achievements of girls around the world, but it’s an opportunity to draw attention to the grim realities that many girls face.                                                                                                                                                                     

 These are not just problems that girls face in other countries; in Canada, girls struggle with poverty and lack of necessities every day. Girls from Indigenous and racialized communities find it more difficult to get proper health care; many live without proper nutrition or clean drinking water.  

OPSEU/SEFPO has been a loud voice for clean drinking water and an end to poverty for all.  Our union will continue to speak out until everyone enjoys the same standard of living that many of us are fortunate to have.  

Although there are considerable challenges, young girls are showing initiative and we applaud their leadership.  

Autumn Peltier was just eight years old when she began her advocacy work for the universal right to clean water. Autumn grew up on Wiikwemkoong Unceded Anishinabek Territory on Manitoulin Island. Her mother and aunts taught her about the importance of clean water and that many Indigenous communities had to do without it.  

Her determination to change this sad reality that affects so many led to a meeting with Justin Trudeau in 2016, where she was quoted as telling him that she was unhappy with the choices he made.  

Autumn was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize for three years running.  Last year, she was named Chief Water Commissioner for the Anishinabek Nation, an advocacy group for 40 First Nations communities across Ontario. Autumn has addressed the United Nations General Assembly twice and will be remembered for saying “I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: we can’t eat money or drink oil.”  

Autumn and other young girls around the world, like Malala Yousafzai, Greta Thunberg and Yara Shahidi, are strong examples of the power of young women to fight for change.  

 In solidarity,

President Warren (Smokey) Thomas

First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida

Dianne Clarabut, Chair of the Provincial Women’s Committee