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Stronach Foundation

G(irls) 20 Summit delegates Add to ...

The G(irls)20 Summit, a meeting of 21 girls from around the world, will gather June 15-18 at the University of Toronto to discuss and raise awareness of the most pressing issues that affect girls and women internationally. The initiative is being hosted and run by The Belinda Stronach Foundation, established by businesswoman and former politician Belinda Stronach. In the lead up to the summit the Globe will publish a series of short profiles of the delegates.

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July Lee, 19, United States

What does the rest of the world need to know about the lives of girls and women in your country?

"To the world, America is often depicted as the country of freedom and opportunities, but to the underprivileged, American woman, it is an outrageous disillusionment. The very issues that plague women in other countries are the very issues that exist in our own backyard. Young women, low-income women, and some minorities are disproportionately victims of domestic violence and rape, reaching over one million victims in 2008. The FBI estimates that over 100,000 children and young women ages 9 to 19 are trafficked in America today, and hundreds of women are murdered by their intimate partners. However, there is great potential in American girls and women to change this cultural cycle of oppression. According to a Cambodian civil society group, "it is not gender which is destroying our culture... it is our interpretations of culture which has destroyed gender equality."

See also: nation profile

Thaís Moraes, 18, Brazil

What is the biggest issue facing girls and women in your country? What can leaders do to solve the problem?

In Brazil, girls and women face lots of serious social problems, such as professional discrimination and domestic violence. Besides, in some foreign countries, the Brazilian woman is frequently seen as a sexual object. These problems need to have a special attention from authorities and global leaders so that they can gather efforts to solve them, developing programs and affirmative actions that can truly include women into society.

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Anwar Basunbul, 19, Saudi Arabia

What does the rest of the world need to know about the lives of girls and women in your country?

The whole world needs to know that girls and the women in my country have great ambitions and great abilities to make them great leaders. That fact that in my country we never had a well known female leader is not because our women do not qualify. It is because the cultural and traditional beliefs that women should be always ruled by men.

Have world leaders failed the girls and women of your country? If yes, how? If not, why?

No, I do not think that leaders fail us. I think we haven't spoken for ourselves loud enough for them to hear us and pay attention to us. I think that they think that we are given all our rights and we have nothing to complain about. This is not their problem, it is ours because we never ask for it.

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Alberta Pelino, 20, Italy

What is the biggest issue facing girls and women in your country? What can leaders do to solve the problem?

I think in my country, girls and women have had possibilities to acquire independence and rights. But there is still a lot to do in this matter. In some environments, such as the workplace, women are sometimes seen in a different way from men and often have less important positions than those of the men. For example, employers prefer not to recruit women who intend to have children, because this can affect their employment opportunities and attendance at work. Moreover, they are considerably more vulnerable, so they are easier victims of violence, rape and stalking. Leaders should promote policies for the security, defence and valorization of girls and women to make them more self-confident and aware of their own potential.

What's the No. 1 thing G20 leaders must do to improve the lives of girls and women?

The No. 1 thing G20 leaders must do to improve the lives of girls and women is to support education. A cultured woman is an independent woman. She will be self-supporting, find a good career and give birth to healthy and well-educated children. She has the means to pursue her freedom and happiness. Investing in education means investing in the future of the country.

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Kartika Nurhayati, 19, Indonesia

What is the biggest issue facing girls and women in your country?

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