Gender equality on G7 agenda

The impact of COVID-19 on gender equality was on the agenda of the 47th Group of Seven (G7) Summit which was held recently in Cornwall on the southwestern coast of England.

The Group of Seven is an inter-governmental political forum consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom and the United States of America.

Their agenda for global action to build back better included, gender equality which is at the heart of an open, inclusive, and just society.

“Persistent gaps in gender equality affect access to basic services as well as decent work, equal pay, social protection, education, technology and many other areas,” reads the statement.

“Unequal division of unpaid care responsibilities in the home and low pay for paid care work also limits women’s empowerment, social and economic participation and leadership.

“Gender equality intersects with other characteristics and our actions need to take account of these intersections in a meaningful way, including tackling racism in all forms and violence and discrimination against LGBQTI+ populations.

“We recognise the devastating and disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on women and girls, which risks reversing hard-won gains especially with regards to gender-based violence, sexual and reproductive health and rights, education and jobs.” 

Furthermore, it was also mentioned that the advancement of gender equity and equality are a central pillar of our plans and policies to build back better, informed by three key priorities: educating girls, empowering women and ending violence against women and girls.

“Achieving gender equality needs to be underpinned by the full, equal and meaningful participation of women in all aspects of decision-making. We are committed to close alignment with the Generation Equality Forum (G.E.F.) and commend the organisation of the first G20 Ministerial Conference on women’s empowerment. 

“We thank the Gender Equality Advisory Council (G.E.A.C.) for its work and recommendations, and look forward to receiving the G.E.A.C.’s full report in the Autumn. 

“We agree to a consistent and sustained focus on gender equality to project our global leadership on this issue, and intend to convene the GEAC as a standing feature of all G7 Presidencies. 

“We know that we cannot make true progress towards gender equality without robust data and a way to track it over time. We invite the G.E.A.C. to work with existing accountability mechanisms such as the Accountability Working Group and the Taormina Roadmap to monitor G7 commitments to achieve gender equality on an annual basis.”

In addition, the agenda states that, “we reaffirm our full commitment to promote and protect the sexual and reproductive health and rights (S.R.H.R.) of all individuals, and recognise the essential and transformative role they play in gender equality and women’s and girls’ empowerment, and in supporting diversity, including of sexual orientations and gender identities.

“We commit to working together to prevent and address the negative impacts on access to S.R.H.R. from the COVID-19 pandemic, with specific attention to the most at risk, marginalised and inadequately served groups. In recognition of increased violence against women and girls during the COVID-19 crisis, we commit to preventing, responding to and eliminating all forms of sexual and gender-based violence (G.B.V.).

“We will achieve this through women’s empowerment and by scaling-up implementation of 18evidence-based, accessible survivor and victim-centred policies, prevention and support programmes, including through our pandemic response and recovery at home, in partner countries and in conflict zones.

“We acknowledge our collective responsibility to beneficiaries and partners, their communities, and survivors to do more to address sexual exploitation and abuse in international aid.”

The statement further states that, “we condemn G.B.V. against women and girls and denounce the use of sexual violence in conflict situations and underscore that such acts may constitute crimes against humanity or war crimes.”

“We note the varied legal and institutional frameworks which currently address conflict and invite Foreign and Development Ministers to consider how best to strengthen international architecture around conflict-related sexual violence.

“COVID-19 has exacerbated underlying inequalities, leading to one of the worst education crises in history for children around the world, but especially for the most marginalised and at risk girls. Around 11 million girls from pre-primary to secondary school are at risk of not returning to school. 

“We commit to two new global SDG4 milestone girls’ education targets: 40 million more girls in education by 2026 in low and lower-middle income countries; and 20 million more girls reading by age 10 or the end of primary school by 2026, in low and lower-middle income countries.”

Additionally, the statement states that, “we endorse the G7 Foreign and Development Ministers’ Girls Education Declaration. 

“These targets should be underpinned by sustainable financing and so today G7 members commit to a combined total pledge of at least $2¾ billion funding over the next five years for the Global Partnership for Education (G.P.E.) ahead of its replenishment in July.

“We call on others to join with the G7 and make ambitious pledges to a fully funded GPE.”

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