Author of this post is Elisabeth Jessop, the U.S: Delegate at the G(irks) 20 Summit.
I’m number 4,541. What’s your number?
There are 3.5 billion women and girls in the world…and therefore, 3.5 billion ways to change the world.
And I will be the change. I will be an advocate and an inspiration to girls and women around the world.
In about three weeks, the G20 summit will take place in Mexico where the world’s most influential leaders will make important decisions regarding economic investment and policy that affects women and girls.
The G(irls)20 Summit brings together one girl, aged 18 to 20, from each G20 country and one girl from the African Union, to discuss the economic impact women and girls have on the global economy. On the agenda this year, the summit focused on food security and violence against women in terms of opportunity gained and lost.
The formal presentation of the G(irls)20 Summit concluded on May 29 after two full days of presentations by some of the most passionate, inspirational women and men, who spend their daily lives fighting for women and girls. We heard from representatives of the World Bank, World Economic Forum, the UN, the NoVo Foundation, Norton Rose, Nissan, the Nike Foundation, the Girl Effect, Google, and many others.
On Monday, the delegates met with the First Lady of Mexico, Margarita Zavala, and Ambassador Espinosa, the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Mexico. The summit panels were incredible, focusing on women in agriculture and the impact of empowering women farmers; the role of science and technology in increasing women’s productivity; constraints to agricultural productivity; violence against women and violence in the workplace; trafficking; etc. The audience was also presented a power panel of successful career women in Mexico from Nissan, Google, and Scotiabank.
While at the G(irls)20 Summit, prior to the formal panels and presentations at ITAM (Instituto tecnologico Autonomio de Mexico), the delegates participated in over 25 hours of workshops focused on business planning, communications and media, political engagement, etc. to give us the necessary skills to help women and girls in our own community.
On Wednesday, the delegates spent over 12 hours preparing a communiqué of suggestions for the G20 leaders to give women a place on the economic agenda. The communiqué was presented to Bernice Diaz, a representative of the G20 leaders, at a press conference on Thursday, May 31 at ITAM (Instituto tecnologico Autonomio de Mexico) in Mexico City.
The communiqué suggested several agricultural interventions to support women in agriculture including: a treaty to increase the land ownership by women; additional water sources; training opportunities in sustainable techniques and technology; an international committee to designate leadership for the national, state, and local levels; reorientation of subsidy programs; etc. On the subject of violence against women, the delegates of the G(irls)20 Summit called on the G20 leaders to encourage women to take jobs in largely male-dominated sectors or industries; address the need for gender-specific infrastructure in the workplace; promote character-based education on issues of gender equality, like violence prevention; use policy reform to change the message of media; etc. These suggestions are put forth recognizing that the G20 leaders play an important role in shaping the right policy framework for women’s economic participation. If these suggestions are not taken into consideration, the G20 leaders would be limiting the potential for economic growth and development. Women and girls are a vital player in the economy, and beyond that, in the social and political structure of society as well.
Imagine what a difference it would make if each of these suggestions were considered and acted upon by the G20 leaders. The entire face of poverty would change, as we know it.
As the U.S. Delegate, I am well aware of issues facing women in my own country. I would like to see more women like First Lady Zavala and Ambassador Espinosa act as leaders in my own country. Currently, only 17% of the U.S. Congress is women. There are problems facing girls and women everywhere. As a part of Girls’ Globe, committed to raising awareness, we can give a voice to both American girls, and marginalized girls around the world. Women, particularly adolescent girls, must be empowered and aware of their own voice and potential to make a difference. “While we are strong, together, we are stronger.”
Of all the things I learned at the summit, I realized that everyone truly can make a difference. Whether you take the time to travel and serve abroad and build a well in a small rural African village or simply put up an important article and raise awareness through social media, each person can play a key role in elevating the position of women and girls. Like Girls’ Globe, you can raise awareness of issues concerning girls and women around the world.
Raise your voice. We must act now.
The G(irls)20 Summit has finished for the year, but that doesn’t mean our work is done. Again I will ask, What’s your number? I’m number 4,541. There are 3.5 billion women and girls in the world…and therefore, 3.5 billion solutions to fighting poverty and ending hunger. Become an agent of change and add your voice to the global discussion by finding your number at www.girls20summit.com. You aren’t just a number, you’re the change.
It starts with…you.
Author of this post is Elisabeth Jessop, the U.S: Delegate at the G(irks) 20 Summit. Read more about Elisabeth and the other delegates here.