2022 Annual Report | DIGEST


Girls Belong Here Riti, an arts student at the University of British Columbia, spent time learning the ropes at BMO – and it changed her career trajectory. PROGRAM SPOTLIGHT

Q: How did this experience change you? A: “It helped me break out of my own fears. I even applied to another business organization for a co-op opportunity afterwards – and that’s something I would not have done before. Because I come from an arts background, I didn’t think that I was suitable for these kinds of jobs. But once I saw Sharon in action, I realized that I also have value to bring to the table. This GBH program opened my eyes to what’s possible. Now, I’m a risk-analyst intern at Deloitte.” Q: What advice do you have for other girls who are trying to figure out where they belong? A: “I think a lot of young people have this perception that to do a job, you need to have a certain background but in the real world, people come from diverse backgrounds and have diverse experiences. That’s why I think this program is great; it shows how important it is to try different things and break out of your comfort zone.” 40 youths and 17 partner organizations from Canada, the U.S., Switzerland and Sweden participated in Girls Belong Here initiatives in 2022.

Jennifer first became involved with Plan International Canada’s Champions of Change and Youth for Gender Equality programs. Today, she’s a member of the Youth Council. The 21-year-old is studying international development at the University of Ottawa and is a co-founder of Black in Sask, an organization devoted to supporting Saskatchewan’s Black community. When asked if she thinks young people realize they have the power to bring about change, she replies: “No, and I think it’s important that we disrupt that narrative – the ‘Oh, you’re too young; you’ll learn when you get older.’ It all comes down to a human voice, and you have one. You have a voice you can use.” SPOTLIGHT ACTIVIST ON THE GO

Riti is “growing” in her career thanks to Girls Belong Here.

Since 2016, Girls Belong Here (GBH) has created opportunities for Riti and other young women (age 14–24) to step into leadership roles, helping demonstrate that women have a right to equal opportunities in all industries. Q: You were paired with Sharon Haward-Laird, general counsel at BMO Financial Group. That’s a pretty big deal. Were you nervous? A: “Oh, I was so nervous! It’s intimidating to work with a successful woman when you’re still figuring out what you want to do with your life. But she made me feel welcome and was open to answering all my questions. ”

30 2022 Annual Report | DIGEST

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