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May 30, 2024

Hopkins sophomore named Summit rep for France

By LAUREN MARRAZZO | February 28, 2013

Sophomore and French native Violette Perrotte has been selected to represent France at the weeklong Girls 20 Summit in Moscow, Russia from June 14 to June 21. She will partake in panel discussions, attend workshops and caucuses and promote tangible solutions for the economic and political well being of women. The summit will culminate in a press conference that provides an outline on how the G20 can implement these solutions.

The Girls 20 Summit brings one female representative between the ages of 18 and 20 from each of the G20 countries, as well as from the European Union and the African Union. The conference meets before the actual G20 summit, and models its procedures and objectives.

Both the Girls 20 and the Group of 20 prioritize economic innovation and investment. However, at the conference in Moscow there will be a special focus on the global advancement of women through their economic and political empowerment.

Perrotte’s academic and personal interests lie in the study of international women’s health, which drew her to the summit.

“I really didn’t expect to be selected and it’s really important because this is going to give me insight on what I’m interested in and what I want to do,” she said.

She is studying International Studies and Public Health, which she can put into practice in Moscow.

As a representative of France, Perrotte will have the opportunity to present from a French perspective, but with the knowledge she has gained while studying in the United States.

“I’m really interested in public health and helping women in developing countries, and it’s something in the United States that I have a much bigger chance of doing because the government and people are much more interested in doing it than in France,” Perrotte said.

Through her internship in the French Ministry for Foreign Affairs’ Gender and Development Division, Perrotte learned about the measures through which France helps developing countries. “[I saw] the funding problem that France has and how that means they have a hard time giving funding to developing countries,” Perrotte said.

Growing up in Paris, Perrotte has only been living in the United States for the last year and a half as a Hopkins student. Despite Perrotte’s love for France, her experiences in the United States have helped foster her academic pursuits, making her time in America important to her.

In France, institutions provide pre-professional training, eliminating the undergraduate experience that is prevalent in the United States. Perrotte would have gone directly into a specialty school (law, business, etc.) upon high school graduation, without the opportunity to first experiment in different disciplines.

“If I had stayed in France, I wouldn’t have had the option to explore,” Perrotte said. “I took one class called Public Health in Women’s Media and thought it was really cool so I added the major [Public Health] because of that one class. If I hadn’t had the opportunity to come here and see what else I could take, I wouldn’t have had this interest for Public Health and then this interest for women’s rights,” Perrotte said.

Her interest in women’s studies focuses on women in developing countries.

“I’m mostly interested in how to empower women in developing countries while taking into account their culture,” Perrotte said.

She touched on issues pertaining to sexually transmitted diseases, which are common among that demographic of women.

“Oftentimes people think [health problems are] just a money problem, but we tend to forget that even if women have access to contraception, we don’t know if they would even use it because it’s not a part of their culture. It’s an issue of how to help them without feeling like the West is infringing on their culture, because we can’t just say, ‘your culture is wrong’, when giving them the opportunities they need.”

Perrotte has taken numerous classes in the field of Women and Gender Studies.

She highlighted a class called Women in African History, which specifically addressed the conflict between culture and aid.

“It was really interesting because it was more about cultural aspects. The course asked questions like ‘How did their culture come about?’ and ‘Why do they have this underpowered status today?’”

In her Global Public Health Since World War II class, she focused on public health and aid in relation to how the West gives aid to poor countries. Her written work for the course centered on the difficulty of disseminating contraception among women in Mali because of their steadfastness to their culture and awarding aid because of political conflict in Mali.

Beyond the richness of her studies, she has enjoyed the social aspects of American society.

“The people here are really different. Relations between people are different. The college experience is also really good because in France we don’t have campuses. Professors here are really into teaching whereas in France it’s more because they have to. People are so welcoming here. I love it!”

Perrotte has been heavily involved in different activities at Hopkins while balancing a double major. She is a member of Alpha Phi, a campus tour guide for the Blue Key Society, a singer in the Gospel Choir and she works at Alkimia Café in Gilman.

 


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