G(irls) 20: We choose the hard road

Currently, I am attending the G(irls) 20 Summit in Toronto as a part of the Free The Children delegation. G(irls) 20 brings together one delegate from each of the G20 countries who is between the ages of 18 and 20 to discuss the Millennium Development Goals and issues facing girls and woman in the world today. For more, please visit girlsandwomen.com. I’ll be providing coverage from the summit and posting it to this blog. Also, check out my Twitter for photos and more. Enjoy, Thunderbirds.

At nineteen years of age, Kartika Nurhayati, the delegte from Indonesia at the G(irls) 20 Summit recognizes the struggles of overcoming cultural norms to obtain an education in her country. Nurhayati believes strongly that education will forever change the future of a young girl for the better but identifies that most parents do not see the value in education or how it will change their children’s future.

Through her personal testimony at the summit, she stated that parents believe that all girls will marry at a young age and become a housewife under their husbands’ power. That is the cultural norm in Indonesia but Nurhayati sees the fight to change those opinions and to let all young girls be in control of their future.

Nurhayati brought up a strong point that education adds to a girls ability to be a mother, to support their family, to provide additional income and doesn’t want cultural norms to stop such an opportunity. Katherine Blake of the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) believes that education is crucial to making issues against women the past.

“School is not easy, but we choose the hard road because we know what we want to become,” says Blake who works towards addressing human rights on a national and international level with LEAF. It is not easy to tackle such large issues like access to education and humans rights but Blake takes her strength from Joe Opatowski, Free The Children and Me to We facilitator and motivational speaker who killed in a car accident on his way home from a speech in New York in 2004. He was only 21 years old.

Blake’s son, David, was friends with Opatowski. Blake recals Opatowski eating breakfast in her kitchen one morning while telling him that there were so many big problems in the world and asking him if his actions to change the world seemed like it was one discouraging drop in a big bucket. Opstowski told her that yes it is just a small drop in a big bucket but that’s what it is all about. One drop at a time.