G7 performance on gender equality
G7 Summit

G7 performance on gender equality

The G7 summits with the highest compliance on gender equality commitments had a high degree of internal support, but there are more compliance catalysts that can be employed to keep things moving forward 

The 2022 G7 Elmau Summit takes place at a time of compounding crises, many of which disproportionately affect women. Of immediate and utmost concern is the rise of conflict-related sexual violence, now being carried out by Russian forces in Ukraine. The G7 prioritised this issue at the Lough Erne Summit in 2013 and must ensure that concerted action is taken to address it now. 


G7 leaders first addressed gender equality in 1990, but not consistently until 2001. Their attention steadily increased from 2013 until 2019. It was entirely absent in 2020 but attention reappeared at all their summits from February 2021 to February 2022. G7 communiqués averaged 668 words on gender equality per summit, for almost 6% of the total words from 1975 to 2022. 

The greatest attention came at the virtual summit in August 2021 and at the summits in 2017 and 2018. The 2017 communiqué contained 3,888 words (for 45%) and increased in 2018 to 5,086 words (45%), the most extensively mainstreamed amount. In August 2021, the Virtual Summit on Afghanistan communiqué contained 411 words (67%) on gender equality. Most recently, the 2022 February summit had 480 words (28%). 

The G7 began releasing a standalone document on gender equality in 2016, followed by two in 2018 and three in 2019. They included statements on improving education for women and girls in developing countries and ending gender-based violence in a digital context. They also announced the Biarritz Partnership on Gender Equality. This practice stopped in 2020.


Since 1975, the G7 has made 343 public, collective, precise, future-oriented and politically binding commitments on gender equality, over 5% of the total identified by the G7 Research Group. Most were made between 2015 and 2018. Earlier, most were gender-related commitments with other issues at their core, including addressing HIV/AIDS, improving maternal and child health, and improving educational outcomes for girls in Africa. Gender equality itself became the focus in 2015, with 34 (9%) commitments, followed by 48 (14%) in 2016 and 71 in 2017 (39%). In 2018, the G7 made a record 82 (26%) commitments on gender equality. In 2019 this dropped significantly to 17 (24%) and then to zero in 2020. In 2021, there was one (4%) commitment at the virtual summit in February, 30 (7%) at Cornwall and no core ones in August. In 2022, there were four (8%) at the February virtual summit. 


G7 members have averaged 73% compliance with these gender commitments, based on 44 assessments by the G7 Research Group. This is slightly below the 76% average across all subjects. By February 2022, compliance with one gender commitment made at Cornwall in 2021 was 100%.

The gender commitments with the highest compliance focused on health, including improving maternal, newborn and child health, or invoked legal action or the protection of human rights. Commitments with the lowest compliance focused on supporting internally displaced and refugee women and girls affected by conflict and disaster and on gender-based violence.

The highest compliance came with commitments made in 2002 with 100%, in 2013 with 95%, in 1996 and 2018 with 92% each, in 2014 with 86% and in 2007 with 84%. The lowest compliance came with commitments made in 2011 with 45% and 2004 with 56%.

The highest complying G7 member is Canada at 88%, followed by the United Kingdom at 85% and the European Union at 77%. In the middle are Germany at 76%, the United States at 75% and France at 69%. The lowest compliers are Japan at 65% and Italy at 50%. 

Causes and corrections

The highest complying summits, averaging 84%, had a high degree of internal G7 institutional support: they coincided with the only two ministerial meetings on gender equality ever held and with the creation of three of the five gender-related official and multi-stakeholder bodies. The lowest, averaging 60%, came on commitments made in years with no such ministerial meetings and with only two such bodies created.

The highest complying summits also dedicated a larger percentage of their communiqués – on average 18% – to gender equality. This compares to the 6% average for the lowest complying summits. 

Core gender commitments averaged 67% compliance and gender-related commitments averaged 77%. The gender-related commitments with the highest compliance linked gender equality to health, specifically to maternal and newborn health, AIDS, and reproductive health. Commitments with the lowest compliance lacked specificity, but committed to or supported gender equality and women’s empowerment broadly.

The presence of compliance catalysts, such as text on how to implement a commitment, generally improved compliance. Gender commitments with embedded catalysts averaged 80% compliance; commitments with none averaged 64%. The catalysts that coincided with the highest compliance refer to a G7 body, invoked legal instruments, or referred to working with a particular country, region or agent.