The world's girls to gather in Toronto at first-ever G(irls)20 Summit

Global campaign and Summit highlights the importance of girls and women to economic prosperity

TORONTO, May 4 /CNW/ - This June in Toronto, just before the leaders of the world's most powerful nations gather there for the G20 meetings, there will be another historic event - the first-ever G(irls) 20 Summit.

Modelled after the G20, The G(irls)20 Summit will bring together one girl from each of the 20 countries from June 15th to 18th to discuss how girls and women can help solve some of the world's greatest challenges.

Girls and women as catalysts for economic progress

Research has shown that girls and women have the potential to play an important role in building economies. For every dollar a woman earns, she invests 80 cents in her family and her community (compared to 30 cents by men). According to Larry Summers, former chief economist with the World Bank, "Investment in girls' education may well be the highest-return investment available in the developing world." A recent study revealed that C$3 billion could be added to the economy of Kenya alone, if the country educated its girls to secondary school level.

"There are 3.3 billion girls and women in this world. The potential for each to contribute to their communities and their countries, and indeed our planet, is great," said Belinda Stronach, founder of the Belinda Stronach Foundation. "Sadly for so many, the challenges they face in realizing that potential are much, much greater. So our goal is to give the world's girls a platform to change minds, change lives and - quite literally - change the world by showing the importance of supporting girls and women everywhere.

3.3 Billon Ways to Change the World

The G(irls)20 is augmented by a viral, global campaign designed to solicit ideas around the UN's Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that impact girls and women that will shape the Summit discussions.

With 3.3 billion girls and women in the world, the campaign also encourages global girls to sign up and claim their number to show their support for girls and women everywhere, and then spread the message to their own networks. Girls can apply to be part of the Summit or take part in the online discussion at www.girlsandwomen.com

www.facebook.com/Girls20Summit

http://twitter.com/Girls20Summit

"Girls everywhere can engage in a global online discussion about what needs to happen to ensure more girls and women - no matter where they live - have the support they need. A discussion that will shape the agenda of the First G(irls)20 Summit. They can show their support and share their ideas in a variety of ways," said Stronach

About 3.3 Billion Ways and the G(irls)20 Summit

Led by The Belinda Stronach Foundation, a coalition of national and international organizations has come together to raise awareness among G20 leaders about the pivotal role girls and women play in ensuring economic productivity. Partners in the program include: Canadian Crossroads International, Canadian Global Campaign for Education, Canadian Women's Foundation, Care Canada, Catalyst, Engineers without Borders, Free the Children, The Girl Effect, Girl Impact, Korean Women's Association United, Make Poverty History, ONE, Oxfam Canada, Plan Canada, Right to Play, Save the Children, The White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood, Tony Blair Faith Foundation, Virgin Unite, Vital Voices & War Child Canada. The campaign is being supported by Google, Macro Blu and Veritas Communications.

Backgrounder

The G(irls)20 summit will bring together one girl from each of the G20 countries which include:

    
    -   Argentina                  -  Japan
    -   Australia                  -  Mexico
    -   Brazil                     -  Russia
    -   Canada                     -  Saudi Arabia
    -   China                      -  South Africa
    -   European Union             -  South Korea
    -   France                     -  Turkey
    -   Germany                    -  United Kingdom
    -   India                      -  United States of America
    -   Indonesia
    -   Italy

    A seat has also been allocated for a girl representing the African Union.
    Currently an online global conversation is taking place that will
determine the focus of the Summit. This conversation is centred around three
of the UN Millennium Development Goals:

    -   Improve Maternal Health.
    -   Eradicate Extreme Poverty & Hunger;
    -   Achieve Universal Primary Education;

    Significant research has shown the contribution that girls and women can
make to the economies of their communities and countries if given the chance.

    For example:
    -   According to Plan UK, an extra year of education increases a girl's
        income by 10 to 20% and is a significant step on the road to breaking
        the cycle of poverty.
    -   In Kenya, adolescent pregnancies cost the economy US $500 million per
        year, while investing in girls could potentially add US $32 billion
        to the economy. (NIKE Foundation, 2009, Girl Effect).
    -   If men and women had equal influence in decision-making, an
        additional 1.7 million children would be adequately nourished in sub-
        Saharan Africa. (International Labour Organization, 2009)
    -   If women's labour force participation had increased at the same rate
        as education during the 1990's in the Middle East and North Africa,
        the average household income would have increase by 25%. (Klassen S
        and Lamanna F., 2003)
    

SOURCE G(IRLS) 20 SUMMIT

For further information: For further information: interview requests and available photo opportunities, please contact: Greg MacEachern, Summa Strategies, (613) 235-1400

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G(IRLS) 20 SUMMIT

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