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Message on the Occasion of the G(irls) 20 Summit

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Message on the occasion of the G(irls) 20 Summit
organized by the Belinda Stronach Foundation

Recorded at Rideau Hall, Thursday, June 10, 2010

My friends,

Most of the international challenges that will be addressed at the G8 and G20 Summits in a few days have direct repercussions on the lives of countless girls and women.

So it is with great pleasure that I salute the initiative taken by the Belinda Stronach Foundation to take this opportunity in bringing together young women who are leaders in their communities and are working to change things for the better.

Right now, today, millions of girls do not have access to education and that they are the most affected by violence, poverty, disease and illiteracy.

They work in fields and must travel kilometres from their homes to get water, without any guarantee of their safety.

Others work in factories, shamelessly exploited, and their bodies can even be used as simple merchandise.

Still others must take charge of their entire families, only to collapse under the weight of their daily tasks.

These situations are unacceptable.

We are very lucky to live in one of the most privileged countries in the world, but with this luck comes responsibility.

The responsibility to create opportunities for those—here at home and around the world—who need them the most. Especially because, even in a society as progressive as our own, equality is not a given.

You, the young women participating in the G(irls) 20, know this. You are not indifferent, and you recognize that you must take action.

You have concrete solutions to suggest so that all girls and women can have the right to dream about the future, to live in dignity, to grow, and to play a full role in the development of their societies.

This is a great source of hope, one I believe will fuel the discussions of the influential decision makers who are gathering in Toronto and Huntsville.

Your greatest strengths, and ours, are your willingness to change, your ideas and your daring.

The world you will inherit will be worthy of your commitment.

I hope you have a wonderful summit, girls!