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Magdaly Santillanez

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The G(irls)20 Summit: A Girl, Mexico and the Presidency of the G20

Posted: 05/ 3/2012 3:46 pm

My name is Magdaly Santillanez, I am a young, 18-year-old woman who is a senior in high school living in Mexico, which is the first in Latin America to chair the G20 in 2012 and to host the Leaders' Summit in June. Amongst these prestigious events and my lifestyle, my perspectives of the world are very simple. That is why today I write about what we perfectly know: the humankind and our actions to take care of our home, the Earth, where more than seven billion of us live and out of those seven billion, 3.5 billion are girls and women.

Being selected as the delegate of Mexico in The G(irls) 20 Summit is a lifetime opportunity to represent the voice of millions of young women around the world. 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. Mexico City will be the perfect place for uniting different cultures, countries, and governments under a single roof in order to debate and discuss the most important issues and then taking initiatives.

If you think it is impossible to raise awareness and receive substantial results from civil society and governments, then I am afraid that you do not have the #YY Spirit!

I am not only talking about microcredits, social entrepreneurships, or social businesses. I am talking about the several generations existing in the 21st century, who use the simplest things such as social networks to change the world.

Now let me briefly introduce you to my life, my experiences, and my dreams...

When I was 10 years old, I was chosen as a national deputy in the National Congress of Mexico to advocate on social issues. It was at that moment that I realized my life calling and the importance of creating platforms for opportunities and empowerment, improving the quality of education, and enabling access to different basic needs, such as water, food or health services. From then on, I continued raising public awareness on the importance of attending social issues throughout different events.

It was until I reached high school that I asked to myself, "How can I help others enhance their socioeconomic position not just through advocating, but more?" I was thinking on a higher level -- helping create solutions. During my summer vacation in 2009, I went to a supermarket in Rosarito, Baja California, Mexico. I walked straight to the bookstand and as I was browsing, a book called The Price of a Dream written by David Bornstein, caught my attention. It was a story about Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank, and how they received the Nobel Prize for their significant work against fighting poverty. In Mexico, there are applied Social Assistance Programs and Microfinance to fight against poverty; however, the poverty rate has yet to decrease. In fact, 52 million of people remain poor. Therefore, what actions can be taken to solve the problem?

At the end of 2009, I started a research in my hometown, Guamúchil, Sinaloa, Mexico, in order to understand the living conditions of the people. The results obtained showed that even though Sinaloa is one of the states given the highest amount of microcredits, the microcredits do not follow the same regulations as the Grameen Bank because they are not given to the poorest nor are they given any specific training to increase their living conditions. This is why I did not have to think twice about starting a pilot program in Microfinance called Microevora.

What is the purpose of this program? It is to make microfinance available to the poorest, as well as providing specific training to help individuals break away from the vicious cycle of poverty. Moreover, this program enables a platform for empowerment. The workshops included forty participants from the Region of Evora, and from these individuals, the first microcredit was granted. The project has been possible thanks to the support of young individuals' volunteering as staff and adult volunteers who participated in the workshops. Many different awareness events have been created since then and civil society has shown promising results.

I am now researching how to improve the model of microfinance and am willing to apply it as soon as I finish. Meanwhile I continue advocating and promoting the importance of social issues. I write articles for a Latin American network called EmprendeSocial, and since the start of my adventures I am part of MakeSense, a French Open Project which challenges people for social business. Also I hold conferences and workshops to kids, teenagers, and adults. At these events, I share my experiences to encourage them to follow their dreams, start a research project, and help contribute to our communities.

Esther Duflo noted "the gender gap in education, political participation, and employment opportunities should therefore be reduced not only because it is equitable to do so, but because it will also have beneficial consequences on many other society-wide outcomes." Ordinary people, like you or me, can make a change, but in order to do so, civil society needs to be more aware, united, and coordinated so that they can affect our communities in the most effect way until we understand that the change must come from governments and us.

I am so excited and honored by the opportunity of being the 2012 delegate for Mexico and looking forward to the Summit!

Do not forget to register to the G(irls) 20 Summit Campaign of What's Your Number?, Did you already do it? Share your number, my number is 20161!

P.S. It is not a bad idea if you take an original picture of you and your number and share it in the social networks!

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