By Angelica Casado
Delegate – Australia

Arriving in Mexico City for the 3rd G(irls)20 Summit has been one of the most enriching experiences of my life, and I’ve only experienced 5 full days of action. At this summit, I have the honor of representing Australia. I am thankful for this amazing opportunity and I wanted to be apart of this incredible summit because it provides me the opportunity to learn on many different levels, about how to empower girls and young women on a local and global scale. With particular emphasis on the opportunities women gain in agriculture and the opportunities lost caused by domestic violence, the 3rd delegation will be providing our own innovative ideas and solutions to the G20 leaders and raise the voice of young women around the world.

Since our arrival, we, the delegates of the 2012 summit have had the amazing opportunity of having workshops including media interaction, political engagement and creating a business plan. We have been taught incredible things by the most successful people in their respective fields and I know that these experiences will be incredibly helpful when we return to our respective countries post-summit.

On Saturday, the Canadian Embassy based in Mexico took the delegation to the municipality of Huichapan. We were kindly greeted by the Mayor and a local farmer, who showed us their self-sufficient method of sustaining agricultural produce through the empowerment of women in that community. Just before we went to the farm, we stopped by a community church, celebrating its patron Saint. They greeted us with open arms, smiles and laughter. We ate authentic Mexican food, listened to the sound of traditional festive music and danced with people of that community. Mexican culture is so rich, I am very grateful for the amazing opportunity to have such an incredible authentic experience.

Since the G(irls)20 summit focuses on the economic empowerment of women gained from the opportunities in agriculture, we were able to witness the method and effectiveness of local projects and incentives.

We visited four houses in the community, which had implemented this self-sufficient system integrating the use of water, sanitation, and health precautions to devise a program that provided food. Primarily, it is based on using all the resources available, effectively and efficiently. The Canadian Embassy to Mexico provides a fund for these projects. Essentially, this particular project has four major components. They include:

– Improving the health of families by changing oven stoves to a wood fire stove with a chimney, to stop the inhalation of smoke affecting the lungs

– Using the ash produced from cooking to act as neutralizers and a decomposing agent for ‘dry’ toilets, thus reducing the use of water

– Raising animals such as rabbits, chickens and turkeys for both meat and the production of organic fertilizers for agriculture

– Efficient use of water: having a water filtration system when washing the clothes, the water would run off into a tank which would slowly trickle into a tub which would water the crops

The importance of witnessing this local community and their amazing efforts is to see the power of women in agriculture. Women are less productive than men, but this is not because they are not as competent as men, but rather that due to the fact that they are robbed of the opportunities, technology, education and resources. According to FAO, if women in developing countries had access to the same resources and opportunities, together they can reduce hunger experienced by 100-150 million people, and can produce up to 20-30% more food (FAO, 2011). Thus, their families and communities would have access to better health, nutrition and education.

Australia’s stance on agriculture and food security is very stable, recognized that Australia is one of the most food secure nations in the world. Australia produces twice the amount of food it consumes, and annually generates a strong trade surplus in agricultural goods. Over the past two years, Australia has exported 27.1 billion worth of food products in comparison to $10.6 billion imported. The Department of Foreign Affairs supports many countries (approximately $200 million on rural research and development) through the AusAID program including East Timor, Cambodia and Bangladesh.

Although Australia is currently stable food secure nation, the government is aware that this is uncertain in the future. The government is currently working on a National Food Plan, aimed at identifying and addressing future concerns on this issue.

Today, the official G(irls)20 Summit begins, with incredible panelists, speakers, presenters from all over the world will unite and provide us with insight, information and new perspectives on what ideas and solutions we can provide to the G20 leaders, who will arrive shortly in June to focus on the importance of agriculture and food security. Most importantly two inspiring women, the First Lady of Mexico Margarita Zavala and the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Mexico, Ambassador Patricia Espinosa will be attending the Summit today. They are examples of women who have empowered young women in Mexico and have both achieved tremendous accomplishments. After the deliberation on Wednesday , 30th of May, the communiqué will be presented to Berenice Diaz of Ambassador Aranda’s office, who will then present this to the leaders of the G20 Summit.

I am very grateful for all the amazing sponsors who have contributed to the G(irls)20 Summit. All the amazing workshops and dinners hosted by Nissan, Veritas, Research in Motion (RIM), Google, Canadian Embassy to Mexico, Nike Foundation, Global Press Institute, Norton Rose, Scotiabank, The Whitehouse Project, Narrative, Shell Mexico, GirlUP! and the Mexican Government. Thank you to all the incredible sponsors!

It has been an incredible honor to represent Australia. I am very keen to return home and implement many of the skills acquired during my time at the 3rd G(irls)20 Summit in Mexico. I hope to empower young women not only in Australia, but to many other countries as well.