March 8th, 2019
When Favour Arisekola-Ojo chose to write the Honourable Maryam Monsef a letter, she didn’t think she would get a reply. She was doing her assignment, a persuasive writing exercise, about the lack of representation of women in sports. The Minister for Women and Gender Equality seemed like the right person to send the letter to.
Favour’s letter included three distinct points: equity between boys and girls, self-confidence and giving girls a chance to prove themselves. “Confidence is reassuring that it is possible, trusting in themselves is to have confidence in the things you do, what you look like and what you know,” wrote Favour. “People need confidence if they want to prosper. Sports can raise confidence because they can make goals for you and when you reach your goals it feels amazing.”
Minister Monsef received Favour’s letter and agreed with her arguments. So much so, that instead of writing a reply, she decided to visit Favour and her classmates at W.T. Townshend PS. Speaking to 150 Grade 5 and 6 students in the school library, Minister Monsef had one thing she wanted everyone to remember: “You are the most powerful generation that has ever lived.”
For forty minutes, students brainstormed ideas with Minister Monsef how they can help create a world where there is gender equality. Together they came up with concepts such as treating each other equally, getting to know one another, starting letter-writing campaigns and fighting for equal rights. “Children all over the world are looking to Canada’s youth to stand up and make a change, to make things better for everyone,” said Minister Monsef.
Changes, even small ones, can have a significant impact. One small change could be creating spaces for women in areas where they weren’t included before, such as athletics. “There are many girls who want to play football, but there are no competitive teams for them,” Favour wrote in her letter. “We need teams for girls because if they get a chance, there is a lot they can prove.”
Writing to Minister Monsef was how Favour chose to take action against gender inequality in sports. The Minister’s visit to her school helped 150 students generate ideas on ways to make gender equality a reality. Small steps, such as writing a letter, can have a big impact.
“The only way things are going to get better is to have conversations like the one we are having now,” said Minister Monsef. “Keep doing what you’re doing.”