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The W20 2019 Tokyo Summit

Every year G20 is hosted by one country and this year the presidency of the G20 resides with Japan.

The G20 Leaders’ Summit shall take place on June 28 and 29, 2019 in Osaka, Japan.

The Summit for the women outreach group of the G20, W20 – Women 20 was held in Tokyo on March 22 and 24, 2019.

The W20 2019 Tokyo CommuniqueIn Japan Sakura is a special festivity to welcome spring. Sakura has two special meanings, one is cherry blossom that make the cherry trees pink, giving everybody fresh and happy spring welcoming. Secondly, it also represents – a culture of re-born, where the blossoms that are born at the end of March very quickly turn into cherry – the new beginnings. The financial and university calendars in Japan get their inspiration from these blossoms.

The W20 meeting was held at Sakura time, which is also kind of sacred time for Japan. Cherry blossom are also the national flower of Japan. To hold the W20 Summit at the cherry blossom time might give women a message that they are sacred as well.

Unfortunately, though there was not much time in between the issuing of 2108 W20 Communique of Buenos Aires, Argentina and the preparation and issuing of the 2019 W20 Communique of Tokyo, Japan. The handover ceremony was held in November and the new W20 Communique was issued in March. We had to work hard. And the W20 Japan team had to work much harder. That is, the Japanese W20 presidency not only had the stress of producing the W20 Communique that would be well accepted by the world and reflect a value add for their own country and as well for all the G20 countries, but they also had to do it in too little time. After the handover of the W20 Presidency from Argentina, W20 Japanese presidency had to come up with a draft of the W20 communique before their G20 declaration was rolling out. Therefore, when it was determined that the W20 meeting will be held in late March, the time left was about 4 months to the W20 Japan team and to the W20 delegates.

Japan’s Prime Minister Abe’s Official Residence is the principal workplace and residence at the same time which is referred as Kantei (官邸). At Kantei Prime Mininister Abe gave a dinner reception to his guests and to the heads of delegation of the W20 delegates. Short and well messaged speeches were made and special tasting of Japanese kitchen with a delightful set up and remarkable tableware with delicious tastes were served at the dinner.

Further, the day following the W20 2019 Summit, there was an open to public meeting women event which was called WAW – World Assembly of Women. This is a meeting that Japan annually holds at Sakura time. In that meeting, the W20 Communique that was agreed and finalized by the W20 delegates was presented to Prime Minister Abe by the W20 Japan’s Co-Chairs Haruno Yoshida and Dr. Yoriko Meguro. Prime Minister Abe shall take the W20 Communiqué to the G20 leaders before the G20 Leaders’ Summit that will take palace on June 28 in Osaka Japan.

From Prime Minister Abe’s address at WAW, I gathered that he not only had a very good understanding of the issues, but he also knows about the solution proposals of the W20 Communique as well.

I very clearly remember from the opening address of Christine Lagarde, the Managing Director of IMF, at the launch of the W20 in Ankara in 2015. She had said the childcare infrastructural investment proposal of the communique was very well received by Japan as a solution to include more women in their economy.

In Japan 10% increase of the labor force has been attained in over the years thanks to women who entering the market. This was possible because Japan had many well-educated women that could easily join the work force.

At the WAW event of the W20 Japan, there were many very valuable speakers addressing the public with quite good media coverage.

The speakers included past time Prime Minister of Chili, now the UN High Commissioner, Michelle Bachelet; Vice President of Argentina, Gabriela Michetti. She also had attended the handover ceremony of the W20 from the W20 Germany to the W20 Argentina. Still another speaker, Malala, who was shot in a school bus, to discourage girls going to school by Taliban in Pakistan. She is now a celebrity activist on the girls’ rights to go to school and study and she is also now the youngest Nobel Prize laureate. Another speaker was Melanne Verveer, the Executive Director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security at Georgetown University. Still another speaker who was worth to listen was Arancha González, the Executive Director of International Trade Centre (ITC).

HE UN High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet said gender discrimination holds not only the women back, but all the society is held back. 2,7 billion women are restricted to access the same options with men. If women were to participate in the economy, it would bring 28 billion dollars to the world economy. Empowering women enables development in the respective economies.

Gabriela Michetti of Argentina said women are going to shine, if we can secure a place for them in the economy. She also talked about the leaking pipeline in the corporate and the political world. Before her, the only woman who held the title of Vice President of Argentina was Isabel Martínez de Perón.

Malala said women of the world are not sufficiently prepared to enter the work force in many countries. Almost 5 years have passed, and we are still far behind at the targets. Girls education has been a priority. To guarantee our future, we need to invest in this topic today.

The chairperson of the Board of Shishido said 40% of the board of Shishido is women. It brings joy, confidence and happiness to work he added

Minister of Women Affairs in Burkina Faso, Africa said that the people in Burkina Faso want undesired and untargeted pregnancies to end. Further, she added that the girls are encouraged to study science in her country.

Among the interesting statistics posed, I liked the fact that the wage gap has decreased to 14% in Europe.

When access to internet was analyzed, in Turkey 16 percent less women than men have access to internet. In Jamaica it is 3 percent more women than men have access. If you live in rural areas without coverage, you unfortunately have less chance to have internet.

Women’s flexible leadership approaches also have helped the countries.

In many countries, enterprises have to explain why they don’t have women directors on the Board and why the number women executives are too few.

It is going to be quite a different life in near future.

In the 2019 W20 communique the governance aspect was added. The W20 Tokyo Communique of 2019 requests preparation of a mid-term report of the progress. That is, it is requested that the respective labour and employment ministers to present a mid-term report on the 2014 Brisbane commitment to reduce the gender gap in labour force participation by 25 percent by 2025 during the 2020 G20.

The W20 that was launched in 2015 on the basis of the fact that the target of G20 is to decrease the gap in economic participation between men and women by 25 percent until the year 2025. The monitoring mechanism to measure progress on the G20 commitments need to be instituted. It was well elaborated that elderly care is an essential policy to attack for aging population like Japan and others. Special emphasis was given to artificial intelligence (AI) and the applications around it to enhance economies as well as gender equality.

W20 Japan Communique include 3 major usual suspects for the gender gap: Labor inclusion, digital inclusion and financial inclusion. The fourth dimension added was governance. In the W20 Istanbul Communique of 2015 we tried to identify the sub measures to monitor to reach the goal of closing the gap respectively in the countries. Without measurement, we cannot estimate success. After all what gets measured, gets done.

The W20 delegates agreed to put with seven recommendation and 15 sub-recommendations. Each of the recommendations are worth reading. I only quickly recite the 7 recommendations: Mid-term report, removal of legal and social barriers in labour market, digital gap, financial inclusion, education regarding unconscious gender bias, fight with all forms of violence, instituting transparent governance and accountability mechanisms.

I look forward to read the G20 Osaka Communique and see the W20’s contribution to it. Will there be any good news about the W20 in Osaka? I’m looking forward to hearing it.

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