G20 performance on gender equality
G20 Summit

G20 performance on gender equality

It is yet to be seen how gender equality will be incorporated into discussions at the G20 New Delhi Summit, but research reveals several measures to help ensure higher compliance with commitments made in this area

For the 2023 G20 New Delhi Summit, with the theme of One Earth, One Family, One Future, it remains unclear how gender equality will be incorporated into its priority discussions on advancing just, equitable and sustainable growth.


G20 leaders first addressed gender equality at their London Summit in 2009, with 155 words (3%) of their communiqué. Since their Seoul Summit in 2010, with 177 words (1%) on gender equality, attention slowly – but irregularly – increased in size and scope. It dropped to a low at Cannes in 2011 of 52 words (0.4%), then rose at Los Cabos in 2012 to 231 words (2%), surged at St Petersburg in 2013 to 1,015 words (4%) and dropped at Brisbane in 2014 to 305 words (3%). Then came a sustained rise to 1,235 words (14%) at Antalya in 2015 and 1,199 words (8%) at Hangzhou in 2016, and spiked to 4,836 words (14%) at Hamburg in 2017. At Buenos Aires in 2018, it plunged to 676 words (8%), but rose significantly at Osaka in 2019 to 1,153 (23%) – the highest portion of any summit. It plunged again in Riyadh in 2020 to 686 words (12%) but rose slightly in Rome in 2021 to 1,510 (16%), only to fall again at Bali in 2022 to 790 words (8%).


From 2008 to 2021, the G20 made 91 core commitments and 45 related commitments on gender equality, for a combined total of 136. The first came in London in 2009, taking 1% of the total commitments. The next two (2%) came at Los Cabos in 2012 and an additional four (2%) at Brisbane in 2014. Antalya in 2015 had no core commitments but produced four (2%) related ones. Hangzhou in 2016 had no core gender commitments but eight (4%) gender-related commitments. The 2017 Hamburg Summit stood out, with a record 30 core gender equality commitments and 14 related ones (8%). Buenos Aires in 2018 had only seven (7%) core gender commitments. Osaka in 2019 rose to 12, with an additional four related commitments (11%). Riyadh in 2020 had eight core and one related commitments (8%). Rome in 2021 had 17 core and four related commitments (9%). Bali in 2022 had 11 core and 6 related commitments (8%).

At the start gender commitments focused on increasing female labour force participation and improving workplace conditions. This continued through to 2015, with a slight expansion to women entrepreneurs and farmers and later to digital skills development and education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, to increase female participation in those sectors. In 2017 and 2018, the G20 committed to ending gender-based violence. From 2020 to 2022, leaders recognised the disproportionate impact of the Covid-19 crisis on women and committed to ensuring that it would not widen existing inequalities and undermine the progress of recent decades.


G20 members averaged 61% compliance with the 28 gender commitments assessed by the G20 Research Group – much lower than the 71% average across all subjects. The highest compliance came with the 2020 commitments with 89% and with the 2018 ones with 73%. The lowest was with the 2013 commitments with 33% and the 2009 London ones with 48%. By April 2023, compliance with the 2022 Bali commitment was 68%. 

The highest compliers were Canada and the European Union at 87% each and Australia at 80%. The lowest were Indonesia, Mexico and Turkey, all at 41%.

Causes and corrections

Several potential causes of compliance stand out. Higher G20 compliance of 13% came from summits with a higher percentage of the communiqué and commitments dedicated to gender and gender-related issues.

The core gender equality commitments averaged compliance of 65% compared to the gender-related ones at 55%. Gender commitments with the highest compliance focused on women’s economic empowerment and ensuring the Covid-19 pandemic did not widen gender gaps. Commitments with the lowest compliance focused on women and girls’ education in STEM, unpaid care work and gender-based violence.

Commitments with a high degree of obligation averaged 65%; those with a lower degree averaged only 50%.

Commitment text that provides direction for implementation has little effect on compliance. There was no difference in compliance with the nine assessed commitments with such direction and the other 19: both groups averaged 61%. Commitments with higher compliance referred to an institutional body and self-monitoring mechanisms for implementation.

G20 leaders at New Delhi should thus make more gender conclusions, emphasise core gender commitments, use highly binding verbs, and refer to institutional bodies and self-monitoring of implementation to improve compliance.