Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 9/12/2020 (406 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
FELICIAA BALDNER is the founder of GENEQU, a foundation promoting gender equality. This afternoon, she’ll sit down for a virtual fireside chat with Isha Khan, chief executive officer of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.
By the way: Feliciaa is just 14 years old.
She wanted to host an event commemorating Human Rights Day (Dec. 10), and thought Khan, who is new in her CMHR role, would be the perfect guest via Microsoft Teams (interested members of the public can RSVP at www.genequ.net).
"I asked her, ‘If you’re free, I would love to have this discussion with you, about how gender equality is a fundamental human right, and how the (Winnipeg-based museum) plays a role in supporting gender equality,’" Feliciaa said in a phone interview.
She’s also looking at hosting a pair of virtual events early in the new year: one on gender-based violence, and one timed for International Women’s Day (March 8).
The seeds for GENEQU were planted when Feliciaa attended a Girl Up Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., in 2019. "And I saw girls my age, doing so many things, being so creative and coming up with all these ideas to support gender equality," she said.
"Gender equality is a huge topic, and it encompasses so many things, such as gender-based violence, unequal pay. And all these girls, they were doing something to contribute to making a more gender-equal world."
She describes GENEQU as a platform.
"My mission is to promote all aspects of gender equality, whether it’s through advocacy or fundraising, education, participation in events, networking, and collaborating, and just educating people on topic, and getting the word out, letting people know that, hey, this is happening, and hey, this is what needs to be done."
One particular area of focus for Feliciaa is the under-representation of girls and women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields. Her favourite subject in school is science; she’d eventually like to go into medicine.
In 2019, Feliciaa and two classmates placed first in the annual Make Your Move competition hosted by the University of Manitoba’s faculty of engineering. "The whole reason for the event was to show that, hey, women can be engineers, too — it’s not just a male-dominated field," Feliciaa says.
She’s inspired, too, by her mom’s experiences as a woman of colour who immigrated to Canada from India.
Feliciaa notes diversity and inclusion are critical to the discussions of gender equality. Her goal with GENEQU is to build a "sister culture" globally.
To that end, social media has been a powerful tool — not just for getting the message out, but also for gaining diverse perspectives.
"Social media plays such a huge role. Everybody expects teenagers to just be glued to social media and glued to their phones. And while that’s such a stereotype, it is also true — but like, on Instagram, I follow some of these amazing organizations owned by women," Feliciaa said.
"When you see all this happening around you, it makes you want to be a part of it as well. It makes you want to contribute and do something valuable."