In commemoration of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, we focus on the significance of inclusivity for all individuals identifying as female, and examine the impact of the justice system in their communities.

This month we highlight our Peacebuilders Youth Ambassadors, Meron Bayu and Kawla Mohamed as they reflect and share on their personal thoughts on justice and inclusivity for women.

Meron Bayu

Born and raised in Scarborough, Meron Bayu is a strong advocate of racial equity for youth in her school and community. She has presented at various high school conferences and has also conducted and presented research at the TDSB YPAR Conference. She used this
research on punitive discipline procedures to create plans on improving the education system for racialized youth. She is the co-founder and program manager of a mentorship program for Black-identifying students at her school, and has served as the vice president and then co-president of her Black Student Association over the past three years. Her experience at Peacebuilders has led her to become an advisor to the staff restorative justice committee at her school.

Meron is a first-generation Ethiopian-Canadian, and her love for her community created her interest in working in foreign policy. She hopes to spend time advocating for human rights in East Africa after studying International Law. Meron plans on pursuing a double major in Public Policy and International Relations at the University of Toronto next year. She hopes to use her time as a Youth Ambassador to create meaningful connections with youth across the city, as well as bring positive change in conflict resolution approaches in Scarborough schools.


“I have learned to be comfortable in spaces where I may be the only young woman, or the only Black-identifying young woman.” – Meron


1. How can we forge a more inclusive world for women?
While there are many opportunities for young women to take advantage of, I feel that there is still so much work to be done in creating strong support systems to come with these opportunities. There are many young women who would benefit from mentorship, academic
programs, art programs, etc. that are catered specifically to young women. It is often difficult for women to simply exist in certain spaces, let alone be supported. After spending three years in a high school STEM program while being one of the few girls in my classes, and
often the only Black-identifying one, I felt isolated amongst my peers. Today, through a combination of resilience and connecting with like-minded individuals, I have learned to be comfortable in spaces where I may be the only young woman, or the only Black-identifying
young woman. The experiences where I was provided resources and genuine support are not only the most memorable ones for me, but are also the ones where I succeeded the most. Providing young women with the support and encouragement they need to achieve in
male-dominated spaces is what will continue to make the world more inclusive, welcoming, and safe for women.

2. What does “justice” mean for you as young women?
Justice to me as a young woman means welcoming and embracing intersectional feminism. There are so many groups of women who are left out of conversations regarding womanhood, femininity, etc. As a Black-identifying woman, and the daughter of immigrants, I find that my concerns regarding justice for young women do not align with those that are pushed to the forefront of feminism. My family comes from a country where child marriage, female genital mutilation, and brutal sexual violence against women are normalised. I watch them become blended into the long list of other issues the country faces, rather than an alarming reminder that women are still in extreme danger across the globe, especially outside of the West. I mention these issues because they impact my community, but there are still other groups of women here in Canada who suffer because of certain aspects of their identity. This is not to say that we should compare issues with one another, but to understand that marginalised groups of women should not feel or be told to feel that their issues are too taboo to talk about. Justice to me, means including all women to the conversation about dismantling sexism, and I wholeheartedly
believe that in doing this, we can make progress in achieving justice for women who are prevented from advocating for themselves.

Kawla Mohamed

Before relocating to Scarborough, Kawla spent her early childhood years in Regent Park, Toronto. Kawla actively serves both communities in order to give back, and positively impact people’s lives. As a minority Black student, Kawla always felt out of place in her learning environment. She walked the halls of her Scarborough high school questioning her identity and place in that community. Kawla is passionate about the advancement of youth services in Toronto in order for young people with similar identities feel welcome and wanted in spaces of education. In school, she is the co-president of the Black Student Alliance, the co-founder and program lead of the Black Student Mentorship Program, and is a student advisor to the Restorative Justice committee. Outside of her school community, she presented research on restorative practices in TDSB classrooms at the Youth Participatory Action Research Conference, planned and presented at the Know Your Worth Conference, and facilitated a workshop at the Black Brilliance Conference.

Kawla is currently a 12th grade student at SATEC @ WA Porter, soon to be a first-year student at the University of Toronto to study Social Sciences, and hopes to pursue a career in Law in the future. She plans to learn more about restorative justice through her position as a Youth Ambassador at Peacebuilders in order to continue her goal of being a community changemaker.


“I’ve learned to appreciate and respect all of my identities by surrounding myself with a diverse, kind, and accepting group of people who make me feel wanted and seen.” – Kawla


1. How can we forge a more inclusive world for women?

By addressing the intersectionality of womanhood with race, ethnicity, disability, socioeconomic status, and sexual orientation, we can create a more inclusive world for women. Many women’s struggles can be attributed to intersecting identities because not all resources meet the criteria for conflicting identities. My intersectionality affects all aspects of my life. Being a young, Black, Muslim, woman, I find it hard to find spaces that cater to all of my identities. Engaging in group activities and conversations often requires me to put one identity over another, leaving a part of myself hidden. Growing up in a Muslim, Eritrean and Ethiopian community meant that being “Black” was never a thing because “acting Black” was taboo in the Muslim community. And in Black Canadian spaces, being Muslim meant that I couldn’t partake in certain aspects of Black culture without belittling my faith. It is challenging to tackle discrimination against women whose identities collide if you don’t acknowledge them completely and individually. Understanding my worth has been a journey, but in my work and school life, I’ve learned to appreciate and respect all of my identities by surrounding myself with a diverse, kind, and accepting group of people who make me feel wanted and seen. Additionally, we can’t make the world more inclusive for women without engaging men in conversations. A smart place to start is by raising awareness and educating individuals about societal challenges women must overcome daily to become successful. In order to make systemic change, we must first look inwards and make change within ourselves and other individuals.

2. What does “justice” mean for you as young women?

As a young woman, justice involves changing systems to better fit the needs of its people rather than harming individuals in order to conform to the system’s practices. Justice goes beyond black and white, good guy or bad guy, win or lose, freedom or incarceration, it’s about resolving conflict in ways where everyone involved leaves with a piece of the pie. My father came to Canada as a refugee. With the little money we had, my family lived in government housing within the Regent Park community and later in Scarborough. Growing up in those circumstances, I’ve learned and experienced the things people do to make a little money, and as a young woman, none of those choices are safe. Financial barriers can truly destroy a person’s life at a young age, because the hustle never ends. Young women in similar conditions discover that having come from a low-income household can mean sacrificing their freedom and that their fear of raising their future children in similar conditions causes them to take risks. Justice entails providing women with the resources necessary to overcome any barriers they may have in restorative ways no matter what stage they are in their lives.

As we reflect on inclusivity and resources for young female identifying women we continue to strive to create programming to create spaces and programs that encourage sisterhood and having courageous conversations.

If you are interested in Peacebuilders programming, registration is now open for Sister 2 Sister, a complimentary 10 week healing and restorative program for Black, Indigenous and racialized female identifying persons from ages 14 – 18. Click here to register.