WRDSB schools and youth are joining the University of Waterloo in supporting the UN Women’s HeForShe movement.

Starting this fall, WRDSB and the University are inviting all students in Grades 9 to 12 to enter the University of Waterloo’s HeForShe Writing Contest. This contest is in its second year.

HeForShe is a global effort to engage men and boys in removing the social and cultural barriers that prevent women and girls from achieving their potential, and together positively reshaping society.

“I am very proud to have been Waterloo’s co-lead on the HeForShe IMPACT initiative, so I am thrilled to be able to bring the project to WRDSB,” said Nick Manning, chief communication officer. “The HeForShe movement has inspired so many young people to join the effort to create gender equity, so it is exciting to expand that effort to our public school district.”

HeForShe Writing Contest

Gender equity calls for all of our voices and all of our stories. To achieve lasting change, we must connect experiences of gender to a diverse understanding of equity in the Waterloo community and in our world. For the first time, Waterloo Region District School Board students are invited to share their stories, real and imagined, about building a better and more equitable world.

The 2017-18 contest theme is INTERSECTIONS. Participants are asked to consider how gender equity fits into the larger equity story. Where are the overlaps and connections between gender and race, ethnicity, age, ability, class, faith, and/or sexuality? How do the perspectives of gender equity connect to the goal of equality for all people? Can working towards gender equity help to advance equity conversations more broadly?

Through poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction, we welcome students reflections on the past and your hopes, dreams, and directions for the future. When gender equity is connected to the dream of equality for everyone, how is our world made better? Your stories are a part of the Waterloo landscape — today and tomorrow. In what ways are you #HeForShe?

The University will award a $500 prize for the top submission in each category (poetry, creative non-fiction, and fiction). Selected submissions will also be included in a special University of Waterloo anthology on gender equity that will be published on March 8, 2018 — International Women’s Day. The youth category winners will also be invited to attend the University’s International Women’s Day dinner with a parent or teacher.

The contest is open to WRDSB students – boys and girls – in Grades 9 to 12. Submissions must not have been previously published. Pieces submitted as part of school work will be accepted.

Submission guidelines

Submissions are due by October 20, 2017.
Eligibility Requirements

  • Contest is open to all WRDSB students in Grades 9 to 12.
  • Submissions must not have been previously published in any other forum, whether print or online. However, pieces that were previously submitted as part of school work will be accepted.
  • Entrants must consent to the publication of their work, whether in print or online.
  • Entrants must consent to editing of their work for grammar and typos, as needed.

Content and Genre Requirements

  • Submissions must fall into one of three broad categories: fiction, creative non-fiction, or poetry.
  • The 2017-18 contest theme is intersections. Participants are asked to consider how gender equity fits into the larger equity story.

Formatting Requirements

  • Entrants may submit more than one entry, but each entry must be no longer than 5000 words.
  • Submissions must be received in Google Doc, .doc, .docx, or .pdf format.
  • Submissions must include a word count at the end of the document.
  • Fiction and creative non-fiction submissions should be double-spaced.
  • If a poem moves on to a second page, indicate stanza breaks with a backslash (/), as needed.
  • If submission is more than one page, include page numbers.


  • Submissions should be emailed to heforshe@wrdsb.ca.
  • Submissions can be made anonymously, but our preference is for the submission to include the student’s name, age, grade, school and a teacher contact.


A panel of WRDSB staff will judge entries in each category to recommend to University judges the top three entries for publication. The University will select the winners.

Download the University of Waterloo HeForShe Writing Contest Flyer

More information

We have shared copies of the inaugural University of Waterloo anthology with secondary principals as well as a stack of posters/flyers for distribution in schools. Please talk to your teacher or principal if you would like to participate or email questions to heforshe@wrdsb.ca.