At the 43rd annual Group of 7 (G7) Summit on May 26-27, world leaders adopted the first G7 Roadmap for a Gender-Responsive Economic Environment. In this document, they outlined a set of government policies intended to accelerate women’s and girls’ economic empowerment and foster greater gender equality.
The Italian government, which currently occupies the G7 Presidency, included women’s and girl’s economic empowerment among its target areas and committed to mainstreaming gender throughout the G7 Agenda. Gender equality and women’s rights have been regularly addressed in past G7 communiqués but were not prioritized until the previous two years. The adoption of the Roadmap indicates G7 leaders’ intent to advance this precedent by making more actionable commitments to gender equality. The Roadmap references key international frameworks, like the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, as well as the outcomes of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment and the Women 7 (W7) Forum, where members of civil society, business and academia delivered recommendations to G7 leaders on gender equality and sustainable development.
“The G7’s commitment to advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment has grown significantly in recent years,” said an official of the Department of State, “but what makes 2017 unique is the release of a [Roadmap] devoted to women’s economic empowerment, as well as other G7 outcomes this year that demonstrate the seriousness of members’ commitment to these issues. More significantly, these commitments reflect an important reality: that empowering women and girls is essential to addressing a range of global challenges we face today. Whether it’s resolving war and conflict or promoting economic growth, women are partners that we can’t afford to leave behind.”
The G7 Roadmap identifies three main policy priorities: 1) women’s participation and leadership in decision-making; 2) women’s access to decent and quality jobs; and 3) eliminating violence against women and girls.
Priority 1 – The first priority calls on G7 governments to increase women’s representation in all political, economic and public decision-making roles by 2022. It also commits countries to promoting women’s entrepreneurship through sustainable measures and awareness-raising campaigns. Beyond government action, the priority encourages the private sector to offer leadership trainings and other activities that contribute to women’s advancement.
Priority 2 – The second priority commits the G7 to reducing the gender gap in labor force participation by twenty-five percent by 2025 and developing a multidimensional analysis that explains the relationship between gender and poverty. It recognizes that women and girls take on a disproportionate responsibility for unpaid care and domestic work. The leaders call on institutions to make a concerted effort to measure the value of unpaid work that would reveal its contribution to national economies. This will demonstrate the potential benefit of investing in social infrastructure – like child and dependent care – that would ease the burden of unpaid work and make space for women to participate in formal economic activities. The leaders’ recommendations align with those issued by the women’s economic empowerment policy team for the InterAction G7/G20 Advocacy Alliance. Led by ICRW, the team highlighted investment in care services and infrastructure as a means of dismantling barriers to employment. These expenditures increase women’s labor market participation, generate employment, reduce poverty and inequality, stimulate tax revenue generation and increase fiscal space.
Also under the second priority, G7 countries promote the establishment of vocational education and training for women and girls in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM) by 2022. They reaffirm their commitment to reducing discrimination against women in these careers, as well as supporting universities to incorporate gender into their curricula. As part of our recommendations, ICRW and partners highlighted the need to “build the talent pipeline” by offering financial incentives that keep girls in school to learn skills which, in turn, increase their valuable contribution to the labor market.
Priority 3 – The third priority, which identifies violence against women and girls as a human rights violation, outlines steps G7 governments should take to prevent violence, protect survivors, and prosecute perpetrators. Taking these steps and investing in violence prevention results in economic benefits and increased safety for women in the workplace. To ensure accountability for these actions, the Roadmap calls on the G7 Working Group on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment to monitor countries’ progress in adhering to these commitments.
According to the Department of State official, “The G7 Roadmap for a Gender-Responsive Economic Environment will serve as a helpful guide for our ongoing work to increase women’s participation in the economy, strengthen the foundation of women’s access to decent and quality jobs and eliminate gender-based violence throughout their lives. [The Roadmap], especially when paired with other G7 outcomes, is a direct example of international collaboration that recognizes how women’s empowerment is important to global prosperity and stability.”
Building the Foundations of Renewed Trust
In line with the theme of this year’s Summit, “Building the Foundations of Renewed Trust,” the G7 also issued a Leaders’ Communiqué that seeks to place citizens’ concerns at the center of all G7 policies. It recognizes gender equality as “fundamental for the fulfillment of human rights” and essential to economic advancement and sustainable development. G7 foreign ministers similarly issued a Joint Communiqué following their meeting on April 10-11 that reaffirms commitments to protecting all human rights and fundamental freedoms; combating all forms of violence and harmful practices; and promoting women’s active participation in peace and security in line with UN Security Council Resolution 1325.
In the lead up to the Summit, numerous stakeholders – including the InterAction G7/G20 Advocacy Alliance – advocated for G7 governments to adopt measurable commitments related to gender equality and women’s rights. Next year, the G7 Presidency is transferred to the Canadian government, which is expected to take on an ambitious agenda. As they begin preparations, it will be important to monitor this year’s commitments while advocating for increased gender mainstreaming worldwide.