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"I could tell more people about gender inequality so that they know about it too and then we can find a solution for it."

Those are the words of 14-year-old Anya Klassen from Steinbach Regional Secondary School, after attending an event put on by Manitoba Council for International Cooperation.

Last year, Klassen learned of an opportunity through the Council, for high school students from across the province interested in spoken word. Successful applicants would get a chance to explore social justice through arts.

2018 02 Anya2(Photos credit: Manitoba Council for International Cooperation)Klassen was interested and decided to apply. She says as part of her application she needed to identify what social justice issue she is most passionate about. Her response was world hunger and homelessness.

Klassen was selected and along with five other students from across Manitoba they took part in four sessions last month, learning about issues related to international development and the importance of gender equality. Through collaboration with a professional spoken word artist, they performed this week at the Manitoba Legislative Building, celebrating International Development Week.

"It was really fun to get to know everyone," says Klassen.

Other students came from Portage Collegiate, Kildonan East Collegiate, Sargent Park, Lord Selkirk and Powerview School. She explains at their sessions they divided the poem into three categories: discrimination, stereotypes and prejudice. In groups of two, they then wrote a poem for each section before compiling it all together.

"I learned more about gender inequality and a lot of things about that that I didn't know about before," admits Klassen.

She adds performing at the Manitoba Legislative Building was a good experience.

"It was really cool to be there because lots of cool people speak at the Legislative Building and I got to speak there too," she says.

According to Klassen, this is an annual event that she hopes to apply for again next year.

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