In response to the high number of young women dropping out of high school within their community, Pathways to Education in Pointe-Saint-Charles, Montreal, developed a project called “She Heroes” to open up opportunities for young women and inspire them to succeed.
Pointe-Saint-Charles (also known locally as The Point) is a neighbourhood in the South-West borough of Montreal. It is among the most disadvantaged areas in Montreal, and also among those which present the highest need for initiatives supporting youth. Canadian statistics show that 47 per cent of children in The Point live in low-income families, 51 per cent of these households are headed by single-parents, and 40.9 per cent of youth dropped out of high school without getting a diploma.
The She Heroes initiative sought to improve the self-confidence of young women and girls in the program through mentoring activities and by connecting them to female role models within their community. In addition, through access to tools and training, staff and volunteers started to integrate gender-sensitive practices into everyday programming, helping to give girls a safe space to explore their ambitions and life goals. Finally, Pathways Pointe-Saint-Charles staff also helped to source opportunities for the participants to practice their leadership skills in the community.
The young women who participated reported feeling more self-assured, having a better understanding of their experiences, and an increased interest in attending school.
In February 2018, several She Heroes participants had the opportunity to hear former First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, speak at the Palais des congrès in Montreal. In her speech, Mrs. Obama emphasized the importance of education, encouraged the young women to be proud of their talents, and gave them even more motivation to overcome obstacles that stood in the way of their success!