Student represents Canada in Paris summit

Belinda Stronach Foundation holds second-annual G(irls) 20 Summit to address women’s issues

Hanan Dhanani, ArtSci ’12, says she worked with 20 other delegates to prepare a written report on four issues facing women.
Hanan Dhanani, ArtSci ’12, says she worked with 20 other delegates to prepare a written report on four issues facing women.

Fourth-year Hanan Dhanani spent last week in Paris as the sole Canadian representative at a global summit for women’s issues.

The G(irls) 20 Summit 2011, organized by the Belinda Stronach Foundation, encourages G20 leaders to strengthen women’s global political and economic involvement.

In an all-expenses-paid trip from Oct. 15 to 21, one woman from each of the G20 countries, as well as a delegate from the African Union came together to participate in workshops and panels.

Delegates decided to focus on issues of health, education and training, gender-based violence and political economic representation, Dhanani said.

“In terms of education, gender roles have dictated over the past century that men are always ones who get educated … It’s proven that women have more of an impact, because if you educate a woman she can educate her kids at home,” Dhanani, ArtSci ’12, said.

“People are already sending their sons to school, therefore their daughters can be sent as well. It’s not like you have to build an entirely new system to send girls to school.”

By the end of the summit, the delegates had collectively written a report to send to the G20.

“[We] got together and came up with a communiqué where we said ‘These are what we think are the most pressing issues and what can be done about them,’ ” Dhanani said.

The report was presented to Consuelo Remmert, aid to France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy for the G20 Summit. The major summit will begin in Cannes on Nov. 3.

Dhanani said while in Paris, delegates visited Google’s headquarters — as it was one of the sponsors of the summit.

“They talked to us about how the increase of technology use in developing countries is a direct link to economic development. For example, when you train a woman in a village on how to use a cell phone, her reach automatically doubles,” she said.

“I feel that half of the population isn’t producing to its potential output and I think there’s no reason for that other than just barriers that are put in place because women are seen as a lesser gender than men.”

Dhanani said her passion for global development motivated her to apply for summit in April.

“It’s a brilliant way for us to all exchange ideas and exchange opinions,” she said, adding that being a part of the summit gave her a sense of validation.

“I feel like if I can represent Canada, then I can represent the women of the world,” she said.

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