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G(irls)20 Summit-Empowering Girls and Women Is Key to Economic Growth

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My number is 18103. I am one of thousands of men and women who have received their numbers in order to send a message to G20 leaders that 3.5 billion girls and women need to be empowered, so that they will change communities and influence the future direction of countries. I am also the 2012 Canadian delegate at the 3rd annual Girls(20) summit in Mexico City. The G(irls) 20 summit will focus on the opportunity gained in terms of strategically engaging women in agriculture and the opportunity lost as a result of violence against women, two topics that in a time of economic turmoil and uncertainty need to be discussed moving forward. I really wanted to be a part of the Girls(20) summit, because I feel I have a lot to say and I can bring some unique experiences to the table that can contribute to the issues that we are discussing. It is also a unique way to bring women together from all over the world that have different perspectives, and combine our efforts to come up with practical solutions to common problems faced by women all over the world. It is a forward thinking conference, as the United Nations is holding its first conference similar to this in 2015, and we have the opportunity to come together in 2012 like the two groups of young female leaders at the conferences before us.

Economic and political empowerment could mean a world of difference for women and girls in Canada. A recent Canadian Royal Bank study concluded that if there was equal opportunity in the labor market in Canada, personal incomes would be 168 billion dollars higher, an additional 1.6 million women in Canada would be employed, and the gross domestic product would increase by 21 percent. We can't ignore these numbers, it's so important to empower girls and women both economically and politically as they will help to improve communities and change lives. In a time of economic turmoil and uncertainty empowering girls and women could be the key to Canada's economic recovery, and maintaining a stable economy in the future.

For the same reasons, it is important for companies and industries to invest in girls and women moving forward. This was a key topic at the World Economic forum in Davos, Switzerland, at which many of the world's most powerful companies took part. They concluded that women can bring a new perspective to companies, and that in turn can help build stronger communities as women are more likely then men to put their money back into communities and community projects. The world's most powerful companies and countries are beginning to realize that investing in women's futures is key to future economic growth and progress. The Third Billion Campaign is being launched by corporations, governments, and nonprofits with the goal of bringing one billion women into the economy by 2025. The intention is there to be sure, now we have to help empower girls and women to take the step into politics and into larger roles in the economy. That has to happen early.

This is something that I hope to promote in the future. If you teach young people to accept each other and bring positive role models into their lives, it will encourage them to broaden their horizons and possibly pursue futures that they never thought to be possible before. If you help a young girl or woman find the confidence and the belief in her, she will break barriers in the future, both in an economic and political environment and in all areas of her life.