By McGill Reporter Staff
It all started with a simple tweet – not even 140 characters long. But it will end with second-year Law student Breanne Lavallée-Heckert taking one step closer to fulfilling a pretty lofty goal.
“I dream of being PM one day,” Lavallée-Heckert recently tweeted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “I challenge @JustinTrudeau to share his office w/ me for #DayoftheGirl to prove that #GirlsBelongHere!”
The social media savvy Prime Minister wasted little time in picking up the electronic gauntlet. “Challenge accepted Breanne! If you dream it, you can do it – and I’ll be happy to host you in your future office very soon. #GirlsBelongHere,” replied Trudeau.
And with that, the wheels were set in motion.
“I was pretty excited when the PM tweeted back. Not a lot of school work got done on that day,” she laughs, joking that she may even go out and buy a pants suit for the occasion.
“I would love to be Prime Minister. Canada has only had one female PM, and gender barriers still exist here,” says Lavallée-Heckert. “We want to show that girls and women belong in these positions and that more attention needs to be paid to gender parity.”
Lavallée-Heckert is one of 17 young women who will be matched up with elected officials and people in the corporate sector as part of a worldwide campaign called #GirlsBelongHere organized by Plan International Canada, one of the oldest international development agencies in the world. The initiative puts girls and young women in the seats of executive boardrooms, press rooms, senates, corner offices and courtrooms around the world, in hope that they will become the decision-makers of tomorrow.
Leading up to and on Oct. 11, the International Day of the Girl, #GirlsBelongHere participants will step into a variety of roles – as Prime Minister, Parliamentary journalist, federal minister, TV anchor, CEO of Plan International Canada, and others – to illustrate every girl’s right to realize her full potential.
The idea of #GirlsBelongHere is to bridge what organizers call the dream gap, a combination of barriers such as harmful gender stereotypes, discrimination and negative perceptions that impede girls from attaining their dreams.
The Canadian #GirlsBelongHere initiative is part of Plan International’s global mass initiative (#GirlsTakeover), with more than 600 participants across 60 countries. Other high-profile roles and individuals participating in the initiative include the Prime Minister of Finland, the Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium, the Mayor of Dublin, the CEO of Google Australia, the President of El Salvador and the CEO of Ikea Switzerland.
Lavallée-Heckert is already on her way to fulfilling her dreams of making a difference. A Métis from Winnipeg, she is studying law because she feels that it will allow her to make a positive impact on her community, and, hopefully inspire young Métis girls to follow their own dreams. Lavallée-Heckert credits her mother, who was active in the Manitoba Métis Federation, and Senator Marilou McPhedran, a Manitoban lawyer, law professor, with being her role models. “I identify as a feminist,” she says. “It helps that the Prime Minister identifies as a feminist, too.
“I feel very lucky and excited to be able to do this. I am bit nervous to meet him since I’ve only seen him on TV,” says Lavallée-Heckert. “I don’t know what a Prime Minister actually does, so it will be really interesting!”
Founded in 1937, Plan International is one of the world’s oldest and largest international development agencies. Not for profit, independent and inclusive of all faiths and cultures, Plan International strives for a just world that advances children’s rights and equality for girls. Because I am a Girl is Plan International’s global movement to transform power relations so that girls everywhere can learn, lead, decide and thrive.
Watch a video of last year’s #GirlsBelongHere day on Parliament Hill