In a special address to youth in Vancouver on Tuesday, the Dalai Lama asked Canadian girls and women everywhere to inject compassion into the classroom and the boardroom.

Appearing on stage in front of 16,000 eager youth at Free the Children's third annual We Day in Vancouver, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader said compassion, or warm heartedness, is the only way achieve a safe, peaceful, happy world.

He said women and girls need more important roles in society because they are more "sensitive to suffering."

"So you girls should take more active roles with the aim of bringing about a more compassionate world," he said.

During a Q&A session with students, His Holiness went on to say compassion doesn't mean being a lame duck but maintaining a basic level of respect towards even those who challenge you.

"My life was not an easy one. At age 16, I lost freedom. At age 24, I lost my country. I remain as a refugee," he said. "Inside I felt fear and distrust. But during these periods, my source of strength is compassion and respect for others' rights."

The Dalai Lama also said the centuries-old way of looking at the world has been made irrelevant by technology. "Everything is interdependent," he said.

The industrialized world has paid enough attention to education, but not enough to promoting empathy, he added.

"Things have changed. We must act accordingly to the new reality."

Canadian youth to adopt 10 villages abroad

We Day attendees in B.C. rallied behind a program to adopt 10 villages around the globe Tuesday.

Free the Children's latest initiative called 10byTen was launched at We Day at General Motors Place in Vancouver.

In 2010, 10byTen aims to raise $10 and log 10 volunteer hours from each student at the schools represented at We Day. The hours and time will help transform 10 villages located in Africa, South America and Asia. Free the Children co-founder Craig Kielburger estimates the program can improve the lives of 100,000 people by providing school supplies, installing clean water wells and improving access to healthcare.

Students in attendance clapped, chanted and held their cell phones in the air as they listened to special guest speakers Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean, Free the Children founders Craig and Marc Kielburger, motivational speaker Spencer West, the cast of Degrassi, the Canadian Tenors and Canadian songstress Sarah McLachlan.

Actress and activist Mia Farrow even drew a few tears from the youth in the crowd as she described the horrors she witnessed in Darfur.

Farrow, who helped bring international attention to the conflict in Sudan, told students she wanted to put a face to the suffering she had seen. She showed before and after photos of entire villages wiped out by violence, a little girl's crayon drawing depicting her worst day (which resembled a violent video game rather than the real-life experiences of a young child) and a boy whose eyes had been cut out by militia.

"You need to know, because we can't turn our backs," Farrow said, adding that a much smaller crowd at last year's We Day in Toronto gave her the strength she needed to continue her work for another year.

"You are the architects of the future. You are the generation I've been waiting for all my life. Do the things you think you cannot do," she said.

Another 16,000 students are expected to join the 10byTen campaign at Toronto's We Day on Oct. 5, and highlights from the events will be aired on CTV Oct. 10.