Letter to the Future from Plan International Canada’s President & CEO

The following is a letter from Plan International Canada to the future Canada. In the letter, the CEO offers advice on how we can achieve the SDGs together.

Tell us about your role and how you are contributing to the society:

As the President & CEO of Plan International Canada, I lead an organization with two primary goals: to deliver high-quality programs around the world that reach the children and families who need them most, and to engage Canadians in that work to strive for a just world that advances children’s rights and equality for girls.

Presently, what do you like about Canada?

Through Plan International Canada’s Because I am a Girl movement, I’ve come to understand that Canada is home to some of the brightest, most passionate young advocates for social justice and equal rights in the world. Collaborating with these young people constantly reminds me that our future is in good hands.

Canadians are also some of the most generous people in the world, and have shown that they care deeply about issues beyond their own backyards. In fact, two-thirds of Canadians think it’s “Canadian” to give back. Whether the goal is getting girls in Africa in school, rebuilding after a natural disaster, or responding to the refugee crisis, Canadians have shown their commitment to helping to establish a better world, time and time again. Canada is well positioned to take a leadership role in shaping a stronger, more inclusive world.

Your Letter to the Future:

Dear Canadian Leaders of the Future,

From my vantage point, the global view from Canada in 2016 is hopeful. Tremendous progress has been made in tackling some of the biggest obstacles our world faces. In recent years, we have seen rates of child and maternal mortality decrease, and education opportunities increase. We’ve seen a dramatic decline in global poverty, and vital advances in our worldwide response to epidemics like AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. We have seen people all over the world stand up for equality.

We know, however, that our work is not finished and is now more important than ever. Wealthy nations around the world are closing their doors to their neighbours, many of whom are fleeing persecution, war and famine. In an unprecedented series of events, we are seeing our closest allies decisively reject global collaboration.

Within this turbulent context, we must work even harder to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), an ambitious road map to the next 15 years of global development. The SDGs outline the work yet to be done, and acknowledge that development has neglected to reach the marginalized populations who need support most. From Plan’s work, we know that adolescent girls are among the most vulnerable people on earth, and with 63 million girls out of school and 15 million girls forced into early marriage each year, there is much work ahead of us. Improving equality will be critical to reaching marginalized people, which is why a focus on SDG 5 – achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls – is critical. We have a very real opportunity to ensure that the adolescent girls of today have the tools and opportunities they need to be the successful advocates, teachers and leaders of tomorrow.

Despite the tumultuous global landscape, there is reason to remain hopeful. I have had the privilege of meeting the young Canadians who can lead our country and our world to equality. More than anything, I hope that when we reflect on this time in history, we will be able to pinpoint the moment when we handed the reins to this generation. I hope that we can look back and know that we listened to our youth, recognized the urgency of their message, and empowered them to effect real change and create a stronger, more inclusive world for us all.

Caroline Riseboro
President & CEO, Plan International Canada