“The other G20 Summit” is the G(irls)20 Summit that brings together one girl, aged 18-20, from each G20 country to look at the G20 Leaders agenda thru the lens of the economic empowerment of girls and women and the importance of inclusion. The third G(irls)20 Summit took place this year from May 28-31 in Mexico City, two weeks in advance of the G20 Leaders Summit that will be held next week in Los Cabos, Mexico. The focus of the G(irls)20 was on food security and the economic impact of gender based violence.
The G(irls)20 agenda mirrors the G20 Leaders agenda: delegates participate in panel discussions, attend workshops and caucus. The G(irls)20 culminates in a delegate led press conference and communiqué that provides a blueprint on how the G20 leaders can utilize and engage one of the best resources in the world – girls and women.
If you’re thinking, “Sounds good, but no way 20 girls can change the world in a week,” you are correct. If you’re thinking, “Girls got together, shared their girl power stories, went home and nothing will change,” you are wrong. Following the Summit, delegates become G(irls)20 Summit Ambassadors and are challenged to turn their Summit experience into tangible initiatives to solve problems facing their communities and countries. Google has partnered with the G(irls)20 to financially support some of these initiatives through the G(irls)20 Action Fund. Here are three examples of the change that happened as a result of the past two Summits (Toronto 2010 and Paris 2011).
1) Tanvi Girota, delegate from India founded the Becoming I Foundation, a globally-supported youth-led organization that promotes projects in multiple fields spanning education, women empowerment, peace building and was selected as the youngest panelist to speak at the Clinton Global Initiative.
2) Kartika Nurhayati, delegate from Indonesia created a BookMob, a mobile library and art gallery that serves young women in the slums of Indonesia.
3) Ekaterina Mordvinova, delegate from Russia organized the Samara, Russia’s first Women Leadership Forum, gathering 30 ambitious young women from different universities from within the city. Workshops and training sessions are led by experienced women-leaders from high profile organizations.
But they can’t do it alone:
It takes global partnerships with individuals, foundations, non-profits, governments and the private sector, said Farah Mohamed, President & CEO of the G(irls)20 Summit. The power of these young minds should not be underestimated. This isn’t about having a nice conversation with girls and sending them home. This is not about Kumbaya. It’s about economics and women and the spinoffs are health, education and building communities. This isn’t a moment in time, this is a discussion that has taken off. There’s a resource in girls and women that is going untapped. We don’t have to go very far to find great ideas and their ideas are very doable and they will make massive impact on global economics and social innovation. If we do this correctly, we will have more stable political systems.
We expect a lot from these girls and they expect a lot from us – they take this seriously. One of my ‘aha’ moments was in 2010 after I did my ‘what we expect from you’ speech, a delegate very respectfully asked: ‘We know what you expect from us, what can we expect from you?’
If one girl can change herself, she can change her community and eventually change the world. Girls go back to their countries and make change. If we empower women in agriculture – from the yield to the way they market to the way the reinvest their money – they will think of ways to get out of famine. The solutions are there.
But no one can do it alone. Private sector can’t do it alone. NGO’s can’t do it alone. It takes the combination partnerships. It’s bigger than capital investment. Yes, we need capital investment, but we absolutely need the knowledge that comes from partners. There is no way we can build the workshops and support the girls when they go home without the partners.
Why partners like the World Bank, NoVo Foundation, Nissan, Google, Nike Foundation, Norton Rose, ScotiaBank, TransCanada, Veritas and Macroblu are investing in girls and the G(irls)20 Summit – it’s bigger than the “right thing” to do:
1) Agriculture is a point in case: Women make up a large share of the agricultural work-force, yet have very limited access to land rights and essential inputs. We estimate that equal access to fertilizers for male and female farmers equals 2 to 4.5% increase in global agriculture output, which could go a long way towards addressing food insecurity in the poorest households. In fact, equalizing access to productive resources between female and male farmers would increase maize yields by 11-16 percent in Malawi and by 17 percent in Ghana—with no additional inputs! So this is not only about fairness: Investing in girls’ education and economic opportunity will give her better life chances, and her society a surer path to development. Jeni Klugman, World Bank Director of Gender and Development
2) Everywhere in the world, adolescent girls face discrimination and violence simply because they are young and female. Pervasive social, cultural, and economic barriers place girls at the very bottom of the social hierarchy. In addition to profound violence, most adolescent girls experience some degree of psychological and emotional isolation. The most marginalized, impoverished girls often experience profound physical isolation as well.
This is unacceptable. It can and should be changed.
We invest in girls because their human rights are so often trampled upon. They deserve better. And we know that when girls have full access to their rights and are empowered and supported, they transform structures of poverty and inequity that not only positively impacts their own lives, but entire communities, countries, and the world. NoVo Foundation