In the right environment, women have proven to be agents of change – and under Italy’s G20 presidency, ensuring their inclusion and empowerment is a priority
The year 2021 is a very important one for Italy’s Women 20 because the topics dealt with by the group expanded: women’s entrepreneurship and finance, digital empowerment, labour, violence against women and girls, environmental sustainability, cultural changes and gender stereotypes, and health.
The approach adopted is synthesised in the title of the communiqué presented to Prime Minister Mario Draghi: “A New Challenging Vision: From Inclusion to Empowerment of Women”. Women are the majority of the population and not a minority to be included.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the world experienced a crisis of care that particularly affected women. The G20 must react by investing in care and social infrastructures, and ensuring strong investment in gender equality. The W20 calls on G20 leaders to place gender equality at the heart of budgeting decisions by creating innovative economic models that work for women and focus on achieving human well-being; to ensure equal representation of women at all levels of decision-making by 2030; to collect, analyse and report gender-sensitive and disaggregated data; and to develop gender impact assessments of all policies.
Gender stereotypes are a key point. The W20 calls for the activation of a cultural change that makes boys and girls free to choose their own self-fulfillment through lifelong learning programmes and financial education, from preschool to university, to make everyone aware of unconscious stereotypes and reduce them. This problem can be solved not only with policies for the development of STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – but also with national plans against gender stereotypes that prepare all, including engineers and computer scientists who design algorithms, not to unknowingly transmit stereotypes.
National plans are useful in containing violence against women too. The W20 calls for the development of integrated and coherent public policies to ensure the right of every woman and girl to live free from violence through a strategic approach to preventing all kinds of violence (included cyberviolence) in all the contexts (home, workplace, public spaces, and so on) and to fight the challenges facing women in accessing the labour market and in occupying and performing traditionally male jobs.
Gender medicine is another key point. The W20 calls for women and girls not to be left behind, ensuring that all public health services and treatments put the person at the centre, are accessible and affordable to all individuals, and are respectful and sensitive to gender, age, disability and diversity without bias or stigma.
The W20 calls on the G20 to invest in research on gender medicine into biological and gender differences in essential risk factors, biomarkers, mechanisms and outcomes of diseases, and drug metabolism and response, and in relation to specific lifecycle requirements. Gender medicine is not mentioned in the document prepared by the G20 ministers of health in Rome, but the W20 hopes it will be included by the G20 leaders in their final document.
Equal access to full and productive employment and decent work with social protection for women and men are fundamental for a better future where everyone has an adequate standard of living and opportunities to realise their full potential. The W20 asks G20 leaders to accelerate the implementation of national gender equality plans for the Brisbane 25 x 25 commitment to close the gender gap in labour force participation by 2025 and in support of the G20’s objective of strong sustainable and balanced growth. The W20 called for and obtained that the G20 labour ministers’ declaration went beyond the Brisbane target to include objectives on the quantity and quality of work. The W20 asks the G20 leaders to adopt the road map approved by their labour ministers. It is important to facilitate access to finance and capacity building for microenterprises, and to ensure equal rights to ownership of assets.
A virtuous cycle
To adopt a gender-positive approach is an essential step towards restoring the balance of women’s participation in corporate decision-making, triggering a virtuous circle for companies.
G20 leaders must commit to monitoring, measuring and managing the digital transformation to ensure women and girls can engage safely in the digital society without violence, threat of violence or risk that the digital transformation will replicate, amplify or increase biases that hinder their full self-determination as individuals.
Furthermore, women have proven to be agents of change in the areas of resource sustainability and driving forces behind the shift to a well-being economy. G20 leaders should prevent and mitigate the effects of climate change and environmental degradation on women, for example by providing adequate measures to ensure that women, who are more vulnerable to natural disasters and other effects of climate change, have their education and economic opportunities guaranteed.
The W20 activities this year were very intense: many initiatives for discussion with ministers from various countries, meetings on all issues on the agenda and the final summit in July full of interventions by civil society, governments, scientists and personalities. It was a rich experience for all delegates, and very useful for G20 leaders.