The Voices of Olympia : Students focus on Feminization of poverty and its impacts on the Empowerment of Girls and Women in Canada

Montreal, December 11, 2023 - The Voices of Olympia Canada (VOOC) held  its launch ceremony for the 2023-2024 Edition of the School Competition on   December 6 at Royal West Academy in Montreal West.

Students and staff at the Voices of Olympia competition (Kris Bennett Photo)

Students from nine different schools, including two from Ottawa, made presentations on an important topic, transposing into a Canadian context the priority theme that was discussed at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) in March 2024: Feminization of poverty and its impacts on the Empowerment of Girls and Women in Canada.   The EMSB was represented by Marymount Academy International in NDG, Vincent Massey Collegiate in Rosemount, Laurier Macdonald High School in St. Leonard and three teams from host Royal West Academy,  as well as St. Francis Xavier and  Holy Trinity High Schools from  Ottawa, The Bishop Strachan School, The Study and Villa Maria.

The Laurier Macdonald High School team presents.

It is of special significance that December 6 was chosen as the date for this ceremony as Canada’s National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women is commemorated.   There were 133 guests - 23 online- in total  participating from the US, France, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Toronto, Ottawa, Milton, Quebec City and Montreal.

The EMSB was proud to be hosting this competition, where high schools girls in Canada are introduced to issues discussed at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.  

“Our board is committed to the empowerment of girls and women through our participation in the Voices of Olympia School Competition,” said  EMSB Assistant  Director General Pela Nickoletopoulos. “Poverty manifests itself in gender inequality across different aspects of society - in terms of access to healthcare, education, employment and income. It is with education that we can come together as a community to create an environment that fosters empowerment and breaks that cycle of poverty.”

One of the Royal West Academy teams presents.

Added Royal West Academy Vice-Principal Steven Manstavich: “I would like to take a moment to congratulate the three  teams that have been fielded by Royal West Academy and are competing for the first time, as well as the staff advisor, Marika Bateman, for their hard work and effort. As an enriched academic institution, Royal West Academy, for the last 40 years, has been committed to student success through providing our students the opportunities to engage in important social, political and environmental dialogue through our academic and extracurricular program. 

 Former Marymount student Shupeng Liu, a participant in last year's program, speaks.

“When our school was given the opportunity to participate in the Voices of Olympia Competition, we were incredibly excited. The program is incredibly worthwhile for all students who are participating today. Being able to engage in dialogue and reflect on the importance of gender inequality, as well as working together to create a solution-oriented approach to tackling these important issues is a wonderful experience for the students to have their voices heard. Through a team first approach and the use of critical thinking skills, the Voices of Olympia program not only celebrates diversity but also nurtures a culture where collective dialogue informs the decision-making processes that shape the shared future of our educational communities.”

See this report on Global Montreal


About the English Montreal School Board

With a youth and adult sector population of more than 35,000 students, the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) is the largest English public school board in Quebec. Established on July 1, 1998, when the province created new boards along linguistic lines, the EMSB network consists of 73 schools and centres. For more details, visit the EMSB website at



Michael J. Cohen

Manager,  Marketing and Communications

English Montreal School Board 

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