Belinda Stronach on why girls need their own summit

‘One of our key pillars is to improve the lives of girls and women around the globe’

Jill Mahoney

Globe and Mail Update

Before the world’s most powerful leaders swoop into Toronto for the G20 meeting, young women from around the globe will already have a head start hashing out the issues that matter most to them.

G(irls)20 Summit, a meeting of 21 girls from around the world, will gather June 15 to 18 at the University of Toronto to discuss and raise awareness of the most pressing issues that affect girls and women internationally.

Hosted and run by The Belinda Stronach Foundation, established by businesswoman and former politician Belinda Stronach, G(irls)20 has begun unveiling its delegates this week. Ms. Stronach talked to The Globe about why girls need a summit to call their own.

Where did the idea for the G(irls)20 Summit come from?

I established a foundation two years ago now and one of our key pillars is to improve the lives of girls and women around the globe. So in order to develop a strategy for this, to get further input in what we wanted to do, we gathered together young, influential media personalities in various areas – so from print to television, radio – a bunch of women. We got together and we had an informal dinner one night for several hours and we talked about what could we do in advance of the G8/G20 to create awareness about the challenges that young women and women around the globe face, but also … do something about it, try to develop solutions.

What concrete outcomes will result from the summit?

The summit itself is a gathering of 21 girls from around the globe, from the G20 countries plus … Malawi because we wanted to have an African presence there as well. So the young women will take this global conversation that’s being had through the 3.3 Billion Ways campaign and then we have what’s called Google Moderator distilling those ideas that are being submitted by everybody that signs on and gets a number. The young women, the girls, will then include those in their agenda while they’re here and they’ll discuss them. So the outcome will be that there will be a proposal or solutions put forward on how the well-being of girls in developing countries and around the world can be improved.

Will delegates consider maternal and child health and the federal government’s refusal to provide funding for abortions in developing countries?

That is also on the agenda. I failed to include that they’ll also be discussing not only the ideas that come out of the 3.3 Billion Ways campaign but also solutions towards the millennium development goals, of which you know maternal and child health is one. I’m sure the young women will be discussing what happens in their own countries and there’ll definitely be a dialogue on that. And I’m sure they’ll all have their own opinions, you know, and we have to certainly respect that as well.

Do you have any concerns that the young women participating in the summit are from largely privileged countries and not from the developing world?

The G8 are the countries that have the economic prosperity. The broadening to the G20 does include more emerging markets and developing nations, and has more of an economic focus. The summit was modelled after the G20, so we wanted to include a girl from all the G20 countries but we were also cognizant of the fact that we wanted to have African representation. So that’s not to say that down the road the program can’t expand. We didn’t want to miss this opportunity as the G8/G20 were gathering to build awareness about the issues of women on this planet.

How do you foresee this continuing to next year? Would it be held in the same country and at the same time as the G20 summit?

We plan that there will be a girls summit in advance of the G20 summits that take place in those various countries. Obviously, we’ll take a look at this year’s program and say, ‘OK, now what can we learn from it, what can we improve?’ But the goal is to … build on it, grow and replicate it in advance of the G20 meeting. And that we can put forward ideas and solutions for the leadership of those countries to consider.

This interview has been condensed and edited




Commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre


If Belinda really cared about injustice to woman she would have opened her pearly mouth a lot earlier.

Recently the conservatives sent a message that any funding for abortion, birth control for third world countries would end. Belinda had a chance right then to speak out but chose not to.

Then there is childrens' rights, the right of every child to have the love and affection of both parents, especially after separation. Belinda has yet to open her little rich mouth and speak out to support children who have no legal rights to both parents.

Belinda, like most of the judiciary and the legal profession, was born with a silver spoon protruding from her rear end, raised by a mother and with an assumption that men are second class human beings who children don't need.