My name is Diviya Leonard and I am proud to call myself Canadian. I am now 14 years old, but I started getting involved with human rights issues when I was 11. In grade 6, I gave a speech to my class about the girl issue and why gender equality is so important to me. I eventually went on to win my school’s speech competition. My spark was lit, and I now have my own blog in which I discuss issues around the world. I have also been involved with many different fundraisers and campaigns for amazing organizations like Free the Children and Because I am a Girl.
Both my parents were born here in Canada, but my grandparents on my mom’s side were born in India.One amazing thing about Canada is the diversity and multiculturalism of its citizens. Without this tolerance of diversity, my parents probably wouldn’t have met and married, and I wouldn’t even exist today. Being half Indian means I could have easily been born in India. If one little thing had changed for my ancestors, I could be one of the 62 million girls denied an education or one of the girls forced into early marriage. In fact, my great-grandmother was married at age 16, just like the 15 million girls forced into child marriage every year. This makes me so appreciative that I was born in Canada.
Living in Canada, I am incredibly fortunate. I have the freedom to express myself through outlets like my blog and social media. It wasn’t until I travelled to India recently that I realized how lucky I was to have the freedom to go to school and get an education without any fear of punishment or risk to my safety. As a Canadian girl, I am also treated as an equal to my male counterparts, for the most part. What makes me even more proud to call myself Canadian is that Canada played a big role in creating the International Day of the Girl Child. In 2011, Plan Canada led the charge in creating this day, and they were successful! Every year on October 11th, we celebrate what we have achieved so far in terms of gender equality. But we also look to the future to see what still must be accomplished. The reason I care so much about International Day of the Girl and the lives of others around the world is because I feel like it is my obligation to help them. Each and every day I am so thankful for what has been given to me. But I wasn’t given this “life of luxury” to live in my own little bubble waiting for someone else to end global warming or world hunger. Instead I am taking what I have been given and I am using it to help those around me. That is what being Canadian is all about.
Thanks for joining me on my journey to change the world!