Despite what you may have seen and heard, a lot of positive outcomes came out of the G7 Summit at Charlevoix (June 8 & 9). Months of ongoing advocacy work preceded this Summit during which citizen advocates worked tirelessly to positively influence the G7 outcomes. Many wrote letters to the editor, amped up the pressure on social media and met with Members of Parliament during RESULTS Canada’s Advocacy Day on May 7 (as part of RESULTS’ biennial national conference). We’ve invited Chris Zhou, a young advocate who helped gain political support for the initiative, to share his thoughts and experience about his G7 involvement in this guest blog. In his eyes, three clear winners emerged from this G7 Summit.
By Chris Zhou, citizen advocate
In April, I had the honour of representing young Canadians as our negotiator for gender equality at the Youth 7 (Y7) Summit in Ottawa. We met with delegates from across the G7 states + the EU to negotiate a Call to Action on the themes of gender equality, the future of work, and climate change to be delivered to the G7 Sherpas and leaders. With such a diverse group of young leaders, coming to a consensus was tough; yet, after hours of thought-provoking conversation and maybe a few glasses of wine, we produced the Y7 Call to Action. It received strong support from Peter Boehm, the Canadian Sherpa, who read it out loud verbatim at the last Sherpa meeting prior to the Summit.
I want to give a shout out to our American colleagues, who fearlessly advocated for their values and beliefs despite their stark contrast with those of the Administration. Indeed, the generational divide was apparent. As one delegate pointed out, the youth happened to have had a women-majority group of head delegates, while there were no women Sherpas. Come to think of it, there were more Sherpas named Peter than there were women.
Women and Non-Binary Individuals
With Gender Equality as a stand-alone theme and the appointment of a G7 Gender Equality Advisory Council, we are one step closer towards gender equality. I believe that Peter Boehm summed it up nicely when he addressed the Civil Society 7 (C7) Summit: “gender equality should not be a box-ticking exercise”. Indeed, I am proud of Canada’s leadership in feminism and hope that we will continue to advocate for equal rights at home and abroad.
Girls in Crises
Saving the best for last, the biggest winners of the G7 Summit are the 39 million girls who are out of school due to protracted conflicts and crises (1). On June 9th, the G7 announced a historic 3.8-billion-dollar investment in women and girls’ education in crisis situations. This was the initiative that introduced me to advocacy. A year ago, at the World Vision office in Ottawa, I signed up to join the inaugural cohort of the (take a deep breath) Canadian International Education Policy Working Group Youth Advisory Council. Through learning about the barriers that girls around the world face every day and the opportunities that they deserve, I realised “oh, so this is what feminism is all about”.
I believe that this year’s G7 showed the world what feminism is all about: it’s about human rights, it’s about economic growth, and it’s about peace and stability. All in all, this G7 put women’s empowerment at its forefront and ensured that youth voices resonated at the decision-making table. This is thanks to the incredible dedication of the Canadian government, civil society organisations, and most importantly, the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who refuse to be indifferent. As author Elie Wiesel once said, “the opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference”.
About Chris Zhou
Chris Zhou is a second-year Health Sciences student at McMaster University. He was selected for the first cohort of the Prime Minister’s Youth Council, in which he provides policy recommendations to the PM and other government officials. Chris has also represented Canada at the World Youth Congress, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation CEO Summit, and the 2018 Y7 Summit.
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*RESULTS Canada strives to put the spotlight on citizens by showcasing the important work done by hundreds of active Canadian advocates through guest blogs. The blogs are authored by citizen advocates and reflects their personal views and not necessarily those of RESULTS Canada. If you would like to be showcased in a guest blog, please get in touch with us.