Salish Sea Girls’ Leadership

2013-05-25DSC_0054web SSGLP  focuses on preventing Family Violence.




Thanks to funding from Victoria Foundation, Salt Spring Island Foundation and the Lobstick Foundation, we are continuing the program this year.  Using a community development strategy we will bring together the talents, resources and skills of motivated young people – increasing their collective power to address and prevent family violence in the Southern Gulf Islands. We will provide a public education initiative to raise awareness, change attitudes, enhance gender equality, and mobilize community efforts – all with the aim of preventing family violence.

Circle of Girls 2014webDespite advances over the years, girls in Canada face pressures today that limit their potential.  Recent Canadian research findings demonstrate that the real life challenges of girls haven’t been corrected; particularly challenges that deal with self-esteem, body image, and mental and physical health.  Girls are impacted every day by systemic barriers such as gender bias, poverty, and rural location.

The Salish Sea Girl’s Leadership program works to build young women and girl’s leadership capacity in the Gulf Islands.  11 young women from the Southern Gulf Islands comprise the Youth Advisory Council. Program Coordinator Andria Scanlan explains: “The way Lynda (SWOVA’s Executive Director) envisioned this project – it is completely youth led.  She has a lot of experience with young people in our community and believes whole heartedly that when given the resources, these girls will determine what it is they need to change and how to do it.”

In 2013, the Youth Advisory Council carried out a needs assessment with girls and young women from Galiano, Mayne, Pender, Salt Spring and Saturna Islands last summer.  They asked girls and young women to identify and explore issues and barriers that they experience living in our communities.  We received a fantastic response; 17% of all the Gulf Islands women aged 15-24 completed our survey, giving us a great representation of this group.

The young women who participated went above and beyond in their engagement with the survey material, seizing the opportunity to share their thoughts. Many responded with plenty of detail to the survey’s open-ended questions, giving thoughtful commentary and great suggestions for change. Some told very personal stories about their struggles with the issues the survey brought up, from body image to bullying.

IMG_2901tweakedCanada’s Girls Action Foundation (March 2013) recently published reports showing that girls and young women living in rural communities face significant barriers compared to their urban peers and same aged male counterparts.

A public opinion poll in 2011, conducted by Angus Reid, found that over 93 percent of Canadians believed that girls and boys should have equal rights and privileges and that equality is fundamental to what it means to be Canadian.

The barriers that young women face translate into startling gender disparities between men and women in nearly all facets of governance throughout community life.

– Men outnumber women 4 to 1 among Canada’s elected representatives

– Only 4% of CEOs in Canada’s top 500 companies are women.

– 2/3 of minimum wage workers are women.

– Girls are 3 times more likely as boys to suffer from depression.

Canada ranks 21st for gender equality, behind the Philippines, Latvia, Cuba and Nicaragua; chiefly due to a lack of women in political office throughout all levels of community governance. Data suggests a strong correlation between those countries that are most successful at closing the gender gap and those that are the most economically competitive.

Coordinator, Andria Scanlan, works with the Girls at a Youth Advisory meeting

Coordinator, Andria Scanlan, works with the Girls at a Youth Advisory meeting

Not surprisingly, examples from around the world show us that when girls receive the support they need, an incredible ripple effect is created.  They grow up courageous, they improve their own socio-economic situation and that of their communities.  They help build a stronger economy, environment and society for all.  The Salish Sea Girls’ Leadership Project supports girls and young women to have their voices heard and to take a more active role in our community.

The pilot project was funded by Status of Women Canada in 2013/14.  The project is continuing this year due to the generous support of the Victoria Foundation, Salt Spring Island Foundation, and The Lobstick Foundation.



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Evaluation Report 2013/14


For more information please contact the SWOVA office: 250-537-1336 or 

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