About My Platform and What I Did:
My platform is the empowerment of women. To learn about the issue of the role of women and gender equity and as a part of my platform, I chose to intern at the non-profit organization, Dress for Success Vancouver.
Dress for Success Vancouver is one of many Dress for Success affiliates all around the globe. Dress for Success Worldwide is based in New York. Since its founding in 1997, Dress for Success has “expanded to more than 140 cities in 19 countries” and has supported more than 850,000 women into the workforce.
Dress for Success Vancouver has three programs to provide women with economic independence. First, a suiting service where volunteer consultants dress our clients for job interviews and employment. Second, career services, such as meetings with a woman from the corporate world about resume tips, or for mock job interviews. Third, a Professional Women’s Group – an 18-month program – that allows our clients to network and attend workshops as a group.
I got involved with Dress for Success Vancouver after I read about their mission. They emphasized that the dressing services are not a hand out of clothes, but rather a hand up – towards employment and a new, positive direction in life, which really gave a meaning to my interest in fashion. Supporting women and fashion combined truly did turn out to be an amazing way to spend the summer – as well, I met so many women, learned from the staff about social media management, team management, and other things beyond the scope of what I had imagined, and spent time with dedicated volunteers.
Why Did I Choose This Platform?
Here’s a little story. I was just another young air cadet. My squadron, 111 Pegasus, has been my home for 4 years. In the beginning of my cadet career, I was the only girl from my school, despite its proximity to the squadron, and was 1 of the 7 girls in my Level.. Among 50 boys, we stuck together. I always thought about this disparity in number: is it due to girls’ lack of interest in aviation, survival, leadership, and citizenship development, or is it due to the old societal view that this sort of “cadets” thing was not “for girls”?
Our generation is a generation of change. Sure, we teenagers probably spend more time on social media than we should – but teenagers and social media are both notorious for being “teenagers” and “social media” due to the way they are often portrayed. Though it can never replace CNN, social media is a dominant source of worldly information for teenagers. And right now, much of the information and news trends out there on social media contain messages of advancement, from allowing people to love each other despite their genders, to raising awareness and volunteerism for poverty-stricken places in the world, and to opening the conversation about gender equity.
I started to explore the gender equity issue in my own community and city. It is vastly different from the issue present in developing countries, such as Ghana and the Philippines – we are far, far more privileged. However, that does not mean that the problem here isn’t sever, or any less critical to be taken action against.
As I started to learn more, I realized that most aspects of the local gender inequity issue centre around employment opportunities and salary disparity. I wanted to understand the role of women, their struggles in these areas, and the best support options we can implement. As a titleholder, I wanted to use my platform as an opportunity to learn, and hopefully make an impact.
Thus, I chose my platform: “Empowering Women”.
What Does My Platform Mean to Me?
I hope to give back to all the women who inspire me in my personal life, and all the women who make history, make literature, and make a difference.
It also holds tremendous meaning for the fact that the work I did affected my local community, so I was able to see the clients it impacted, and see the difference it made. Even just being at Dress for Success Vancouver for a month, I have witnessed so many rewarding moments, when the women thank us, when they tell us how their confidence increased after their appointment, and especially when you just see the “ready to take on the world” smile on their faces when they look at themselves in those new outfits.
What Would I Do for my Platform as Miss Teenage Canada?
Um…this one’s easy. Everything.
To hold the title of Miss Teenage Canada means that I can make an impact through my platform nationally, and internationally as well. I will get to know the issue more first, by talking to and learning from women who need the support, and figuring out how to most effectively and efficiently make a difference for me, for one year. I will then try to promote my cause as much as possible by getting in touch and joining forces with organizations and people who are already doing amazing work, and with my experience from Dress for Success Vancouver, expand my involvement.