Sciences Po student chosen to represent France at Girls20 Summit

Sciences Po student chosen to represent France at Girls20 Summit

Meet Lamia Mounavaraly, Master’s student at Sciences Po
  • Lamia Mounavaraly represents France at Girls20 Summit © Lamia MounavaralyLamia Mounavaraly represents France at Girls20 Summit © Lamia Mounavaraly

Lamia Mounavaraly is a Master’s student in Economics and Public Policy at the Sciences Po School of Public Affairs. This fall, she flew the flag for French women at the prestigious G(irls)20 Global Summit. She tells us about her experience as an official delegate.

What is the role of the Girls20?

Girls20 is a Canada-based organisation that works to advance the participation of young women in public and private decision-making processes. The Girls20 Summit takes place every year one month before the G20 Leaders' Summit. This year, the Summit brought together 27 delegates: in addition to the Group of Twenty countries, were invited delegates from Vietnam, Pakistan, Afghanistan, the African Union, the Middle East and North Africa region, the New Partnership for Africa's Development, as well as a representative of the indigenous populations, from Peru. We were supposed to travel to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, but due to the public health crisis, all of our discussions took place remotely through Zoom.

How did it go?

We met every week for two months with the 26 other delegates. We were structured around two working groups on building inclusivity in decision-making spaces in the public and private sectors and the economic participation through digitalization and entrepreneurship. Of course, we have also discussed extensively the inclusion of young women in post-Covid economic recovery plans. We released a statement in the light of these discussions. To help us do so properly, we had policy-writing courses: the statement must be intelligible and resonate from South Africa to Russia. We also met with experts who guided us on what we could ask of our governments in order to have the greatest impact possible. Our statement will be presented to the G20 Sherpas, but also to non-governmental organisations, representatives of civil society …

Why did you get involved in this Summit?

I became involved in the women's rights movement when I was a high school student in Reunion: that is when I discovered the extent of domestic violence on my island and in the country. With some friends, we set up a movement in my school and we made other young people aware of the issue. This is how my feminist journey began. At that time, I didn't really know what to read, who to listen to… This has become clear at Sciences Po, during my Undergraduate College, through readings and meetings with Parisian and Overseas activists. Hélène Périvier’s class on Challenging Economy with Gender really struck me: it pushed me to look at each discipline through a gender lens. In another course, I carried out a group research project on obstetric violence that enabled me to call into question public health policies from a gender perspective. And during my third year abroad in South-East Asia I really dove into intersectional theories: I did missed it, since coming from an overseas territory, I didn't always see myself reflected in the feminist discourse. Then, I became fully involved in associations including Politiqu’elles and Women in Business at Sciences Po.

I felt a need to build this path before applying for the Summit. Moreover, Girls20 is open to young women aged 19 to 23… 2020 was the last year I could apply! Therefore, I embarked on this adventure because the values ??of the organisation, the quality of their programmes and the initiatives launched by previous delegates inspired me tremendously. I was not disappointed! In a few months, I gained confidence in myself and in my ideas, I learned a lot about the situation of young women in France and in the world, and above all, I was able to connect with courageous and motivated young women who are shifting position lines in their countries.

You come from Reunion and mentioned the lack of representativity of the French overseas territories in international decision-making bodies. Could you tell us more?

Definitely: not only a lack of representativeness in international decision-making bodies, but also sometimes national. Whenever I talk to other young overseas people, we share experiences of racism, underestimation of our abilities and great ignorance of our territories. Each Overseas Territory has its specificities and cultural and historical characteristics: we want to bring these forward! When I applied for the Girls20 Global Summit, the organisers had never heard of Reunion. Being able to showcase my Indian Ocean island and its wealth was a source of great pride. I was strongly supported in this endeavour by the people of Reunion, confirming a real need and a desire to see young people take over decision-making processes. I am happy that I have been able to do it, it means a lot to me!

What conclusions have been reached during the 2020 Summit?

We released twelve recommendations that are detailed in our statement. These recommendations are intentionally imprecise: the aim is to be able to transpose all twelve in all countries, sometimes at different scales. All these recommendations emerged from the Covid-19 crisis and have been thought through in light of its impact on young women and their economic and political participation.

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