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2nd G20 EMPOWER Meeting of WCD Ministry identifies Actions to Accelerate Women-Led Development

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The second G20 EMPOWER meeting took place in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala on 5th and 6th April 2023. The meeting was a pivotal stepping stone towards creating a G20 partnership for actions for women-led development. It involved active participation from 18 participants from 8 G20 countries (Mexico, Saudi Arabia, USA, Japan, South Africa, Turkey, Italy and France), 9 participants from 6 Invitee Countries (Bangladesh, Oman, Spain, UEA, Netherlands and Nigeria) and 9 participants from 6 International Organisations (UN Women, World Bank, IMF, UNICEF, World Trade Organisation and ILO).

The intended outcomes proposed by the delegates encompassed all three themes of G20 EMPOWER under the Indian Presidency – Women’s Entrepreneurship: A Win-Win for Equity and Economy, Education: A Game-changing Pathway to Women’s Empowerment, and Creating a Partnership for Promoting Women’s Leadership at all Levels including Grassroots. Underlying all of these has been the power of Digital Technology.

This second G20 EMPOWER meeting followed on from the first meeting on 11th and 12th of February 2023, where five Working Groups were set up to deliberate upon Financial Inclusion & Business Acceleration, Mentorship, STEM, Corporate Women Empowerment and Digital Inclusion. With G20 EMPOWER being a partnership between government and the private sector, the working groups developed recommendations for private sector commitments as well as suggested actions for governments. These recommendations comprise of core actions that G20 EMPOWER is envisaged to take to direct women-led development.

Delegations held discussions on taking forward the KPIs and adding to the Best Practices Playbook developed under previous presidencies.

Under India’s presidency, G20 EMPOWER has discussed a Mentorship Platform which has been proposed to promote women’s leadership at all levels by enhancing and enabling access to mentorship and capacity-building through an e-platform. This would be hosted on the Women’s Empowerment Platform of NITI Aayog, Government of India. It would serve as a global mentoring and capacity-building portal that facilitates structured knowledge-exchange among women mentees and mentors of G20 nations. It will also serve as an aggregator of existing subject-specific mentorship portals targeting areas such as STEM, business leadership, and entrepreneurship. Through the mentorship, networking, knowledge sharing, capacity building and best practices provided through this platform, women entrepreneurs across small, medium and large enterprises as well as grassroots leaders would achieve accelerated success.

The gender divide in digital skills, as well as education and skilling more broadly has affected women’s ability to succeed across areas, with this gap being particularly large in case of STEM – which is the field with fastest-growing and highest-paid jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities. G20 EMPOWER’s proposals will seek to bridge these education and skill divides, and subsequently empower adolescent girls and young women with the necessary skills to successfully transition from education to work.

In this direction, a Digital Inclusion Platform has been developed as an education and upskilling portal that will enable women across various geographies to get gain digital, technical and financial knowledge that will be crucial for the jobs and entrepreneurship in future. It will be available in 120+international and Indian languages, and serve as an aggregator of global content and courses in the aforementioned areas. It will help guide, provide content, and match women with internships and jobs. The framework of the platform was presented and discussed in the course of the deliberations.

Given that some of the most substantial barriers faced by women entrepreneurs are around the availability of credit and market access, G20 EMPOWER has proposed impactful recommendations in these areas. These emphasise sustainable gender-inclusive financial models such as pooled credit funds, credit guarantees, and encouraging gender responsive procurement in government and the private sector through the ‘proudly owned by women’ seal, amongst others. Not only will this create a more vibrant ecosystem of women entrepreneurs, but with women entrepreneurs having higher probability of employing women workers, it would also lead to higher Female Labour Force Participation.

Furthermore, G20 EMPOWER’s recommendations envisage a world where the burden of care does not deter women’s economic participation. The care ecosystem found a strong place in the deliberations including those on the availability of subsidized childcare, integrating creches into school systems, and providing nursing rooms/creche facilities at workplaces, amongst others.

G20 EMPOWER also recommended that the private sector makes commitments to promote women’s school-to-work transition for adolescent girls and career-development opportunities beyond traditional fields through scholarships, corporate fellowships in STEM, apprenticeships for adolescent girls and young women including in non-conventional vocational areas, as well as apprenticeships for STEM graduates in the R&D sector.

Crucially, G20 EMPOWER recognized that women’s participation and representation in decision-making processes at all levels is critical for the prioritization of women’s differential needs and issues in governance, and for localizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Its initiatives will fill the gaps in skilling, reskilling and upskilling women at all levels including at the grassroots through online platforms, public-private participations, and initiatives for lifelong learning and digital fluency for women and girls especially in scientific and non-traditional sectors.

The G20 EMPOWER Pledge was also discussed. India has proposed certain additional provisions to the Pledge to further support advancement of women to leadership positions. Under India’s presidency, the endeavour will be to continue to expand the network of G20 EMPOWER Advocates.

Through these and several other commitments and initiatives, the G20 EMPOWER proposals will accelerate the creation of a world where women have the necessary skills, access to resources, supportive infrastructure and environment, and mentorship for a transformational shift towards women-led development.