Excerpted from introduction
1. Call to Action
We, the Gender Equality Advisory Council (GEAC), welcome the open society values shared by the Group of Seven (G7) and the recognition that gender equality is integral to those values. We further recognise the strength of collective commitments made by G7 countries. Women and girls must have the same opportunities and rights - political, economic, social and cultural - as men. Just as women have been at the centre of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic as health workers, care workers, scientists and teachers, they must equally be at the heart of a recovery that ensures their rights, meets their needs and recognises their contributions. We challenge G7 Leaders to be ambitious for all women, including but not limited to those marginalised by race, ethnicity, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and socio-economic status.
Our starting point this year is the mounting evidence that COVID-19 risks a step back for gender equality globally, unless governments take urgent action. Despite the centrality of women in the response, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on women and girls everywhere by exacerbating existing inequalities. The GEAC’s analysis has focused in particular on three linked, core themes: girls’ education and the participation of women and girls in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM); women’s empowerment; and eradicating violence against women and girls.
GEAC members have pooled their experience, expertise and skills to develop recommendations that are practical, concrete and actionable. Across the three themes there are common mechanisms: measurement and accountability, representation, inclusion and legislation. We need to measure women’s participation so that we know if action is needed. We need women to be visible in positions of authority, and to bring a diversity of experience to all organisations. We need to acknowledge and tackle the barriers to women’s inclusion. And finally, we need governments to legislate in a way that supports increased gender equality. This all starts with a quality education for every girl on the planet.
The GEAC calls for:
- An acknowledgement of the disproportionate effect of COVID-19 on women and girls, globally, and increased funding for, and dedicated action towards gender-transformative development programming, sexual and reproductive health services, and addressing the ‘shadow pandemic’ of violence against women and girls (VAWG).
- A pandemic response and recovery that takes account of the needs of women and girls, and tracks the effect of recovery initiatives on men and women, taking into account factors such as age, income, disability and ethnicity.
- At least 12 years of gender-transformative education for all, building on G7 Foreign and Development Ministers’ commitments on girls’ education and, domestically, supporting schools to implement gender-responsive policies to benefit girls’ physical and mental wellbeing.
- Strengthened domestic and international social care infrastructure, and access to affordable quality care, including childcare, through increased public investment to address gender imbalances in care work, both paid and unpaid.
- Equal access to capital and labour markets, through removing barriers and creating opportunities for jobs and funding for women to thrive in the modern economy, and tailoring policies to support women-owned micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).
- Recognition of the impact that global trade has on women as traders, workers and consumers, with G7 Leaders building trading relationships that benefit women and girls around the world.
- A gender-responsive approach to climate financing, investment and policies, including at the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 26), and for G7 Leaders to target investment in girls’ education, re-skilling of women, and lifelong learning to ensure that women and girls can benefit from the ‘green revolution’.
- Acknowledgement of the risk to global prosperity and women’s economic empowerment caused by a gender imbalance in STEM education and careers, and commitment to prioritising progress towards gender parity through concrete action.
- Action to address the digital gender divide by supporting initiatives that provide women and girls in all areas with affordable, reliable and safe internet and mobile services; and to counteract algorithm bias which puts women, girls and marginalised groups at a disadvantage.
- An end to the stereotyping and unequal treatment of women in the media, including by endorsing the Generation Equality Forum Charter of Commitments for Cultural and Creative Industries.
- Global action to end violence against women and girls through increased investment in prevention and response; the ratification of relevant conventions, including the Istanbul Convention; and enhanced support for eradicating female genital mutilation (FGM).
- Action to tackle online harassment and abuse of women and girls, through the introduction of legislation that establishes a duty of care on technology companies to improve the safety of users online, including appropriate controls for online pornography sites.
- Condemnation of sexual violence used as a weapon of war as an international red line, by developing an International Convention to denounce it, in line with other prohibited weapons in war such as landmines and chemical weapons.
- Continued action to drive monitoring of progress on gender equality, and accountability on commitments, including the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, through the establishment of a G7 GEAC observatory mechanism to measure and report on G7 progress.
The GEAC also notes that women are under-represented politically, as voters and as leaders in international institutions, local and national governments; including G7 decision-making structures. We call on G7 Leaders to reconvene the GEAC under each G7 Presidency to ensure women’s voices are hard-wired into the process, and to monitor gender balance among leaders and their delegations in future years.
We are pleased to present these recommendations to G7 Leaders ahead of a further report in the autumn. We look for greater horizons of opportunity for women and girls and the tearing down of barriers which impede them. We call on the G7 to take on board the recommendations and advice of the Women 7 and the Generation Equality Forum, and to make bold commitments and deliver game-changing results for women and girls in all their diversity to build back better.