Participating in a global discussion

First-year Wilfrid Laurier University student Claire Charness will have the opportunity this May to do something that the average student in Canada — or in the world — will never have the chance to do.

As Canada’s only representative in this year’s G(irls) 20 Summit in Mexico City, Charness will engage in dialogue with 19 other young females of the G20 nations about women’s rights and education.

“We get to do workshops, we get to meet people from all over the world, [including] leaders in economics, law and basically learn about how to apply and use this resource, which is girls and women,” explained Charness, who added that she had to wait two weeks after she found out, until she announced she was chosen to outside world.

“I think that was the hardest thing to do because you want to tell people but you can’t because they have to put out a press release and all those type of stuff,” she said. “I’m kind of calm and just going through all of this and taking this as it goes.”

The summit, which is held just prior to the G20 summit in the same city, allows the young adults to engage in discussion about how to increase the awareness of women’s issues across the world, and how it can be addressed in the policy makers of the G20 countries.

Charness, one of hundreds of applicants from not only Canada but all G20 nations, had to submit a proposal on her thoughts about how society can better address human issues in her community. She eventually chose to write about the negative stereotypes and depictions of women in media.

“We see more negative stereotypes than we do positive ones. We don’t see a lot of positive role models, the covers on magazines with Lindsay Lohan and Brittany Spears and there isn’t a lot of positivity there,” she explained. “So what we’re kind of facing are decades-old stereotypes.”

With issues such as these, along with totally different issues that affect different nations, the young females will engage in a discussion to find solutions. They will then present their findings to some leaders at the summit and once again to their respective leaders in their own nation.

Charness is extremely excited for this opportunity and views it as a maturing process and hoping to learn a lot, but also contribute to it as much as she can. She noted that she wants to move into the field of international human rights and relations as a possible career choice post-graduation.

“Funny thing is, I was afraid of public speaking before this. I would have never would have done anything like this [before],” she said. “My teachers have always said, ‘your career finds you. If you don’t know what you’re doing your career finds you.’”

“And they were right.”

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