Millennials Debate Feminism and Women's Empowerment at G8/G20 Youth Summit

ByMia Wang

The 2012 G20 Youth Summit commenced on June 3 with a welcome dinner. The first conference of delegations of 20 countries ended in handshakes and laughter, but that was the end of friendliness — the ministers were all ready to fight.   

After two days of preparation and warm up, the first negotiation began in the morning. The agenda in the development committee did not develop smoothly. Negotiating progress was stagnated while the delegates indulged themselves in word games. The morning session turned into a long process of defining the definition and voting to vote.   

The definition of "food security" and "human security" was chewed over and over again by different groups. Though no major alliances were formed, developing countries such as South Africa proposed to focus on food security while the European Union insisted on taking the definition of human security given by UNDP in 1994, which looks at a bigger scale, including economic security, health security and other many aspects. No consensus was reached until near lunchtime when the committee agreed to focus on food security as it relates to other human security topics.   

Progressive discussion started in the afternoon session, originally focusing on the development of small-scale agriculture. The function of FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) was the key issue. Whether there should be more international organizations and institutions providing aid or centralize the institutions and build international databases were widely discussed. The agreement of a centralized database under the FAO was then reached, after which an interesting turning point came.   

The second half of the afternoon session turned into a feminist movement. The discussion of access to the database led to a focus shift to women’s equal rights to land, which extended to the concern for equal education and the empowerment of women. More interestingly, the equal access to land brought up the discussion of land tenure, which started another round of argument of definition. “We’ve gone too far from the topic,” Chinese delegate Fangzhou Zhou said in an interview later. “I have complained to the Chair but still nobody corrected it.” 

The discussion came to a deadlock when the American delegate came up with the concept of land tenure which triggered another round of definition squabbling and was opposed by countries that apply to different land ownership systems. The divergence seriously delayed the progress, meaning the development committee is now far behind schedule.