THE ENERGY, enthusiasm and excitement were hard to miss as 18-year-old Jasleen Virk shouldered the role of Consul General of Canada in Chandigarh for the day. The occasion – International Day of the Girl Child (October 11) and the idea — to discuss, debate and share the values and objectives of the day. “This is such a wonderful opportunity and a platform to talk about an issue that is so close to my heart. Even in today’s time, we face inequality in so many spheres of life, with girls and women treated as second-rate citizens, a fact that is both disturbing and painful,” said Virk.
A second-year BA student at Post Graduate Government College for Girls-11, Virk won the chance to play the role out of six candidates, two each from her college, MCM DAV College for Women and Guru Gobind Singh College for Women.
Education, believes Virk, can help young women achieve equality. “It’s about awareness. We need to talk about issues concerning the girl child and women to bring about change. As a privileged citizen of society, I feel we all have the power and responsibility to make a difference and I see this role and day as a chance to think of new ideas, share experiences and change mindsets. The need of the hour is to stand up for our rights, be fearless, courageous and raise our voice against rape, violence and crimes against women,” she said.
Virk will return to college on Thursday. So will Christopher Gibbins, the real Consul General of Canada here, to his post.
Explaining why the Canadian mission decided to mark International Day of the Girl Child in this way, Gibbons said: “All over the country, we have some programme on the occasion. But, a young woman carrying out the role of the Consul General for the Day is unique to Chandigarh. We strive to include common people so that they can be a part of the efforts being made towards gender equality.”
As for Virk, who is aspiring to be a human rights lawyer, she says: “We will soon be organising a talk in colleges by a woman from the corporate world, who will speak about various facets of her world and work. We hope to make it an engaging effort.”