Women 20 (W20) was set up under the 2015 Turkish G20 Presidency as a stand-alone official G20 Engagement Group, which focuses on the promotion of economic growth in a gender responsive and inclusive manner.
This year, the G20 Presidency is with Argentina. The W20 Summit was recently held in Buenos Aires. Four main topics were discussed:
Women’s labor inclusion
Since the G20 Leaders Declaration at the 2012 Los Cabos Summit in Mexico, economic inclusion is on the agenda of G20 governments. For this purpose, the G20 governments signed a 25 by 25 principle in 2014 in Brisbane, Australia. Until the year 2025, each country will decrease their own gap by 25 percent in the employment of women. This year, labor inclusion was discussed at length in workshops all over the world. The demand was to accelerate the pace of inclusion, invest in care economy, promote shared parental responsibility and eliminate all forms of discrimination and harassment to enhance women’s status in the world of work that envisages the expected futuristic changes in the work place.
Women’s financial inclusion
To increase women’s existence in financial transactions, governments need to ensure equal access to credit lines and design initiatives to increase their financial and legal literacy and entrepreneurship capacity. Women have very little share in the award of government contracts. The target of increasing the share of women-owned and women-led enterprises by a minimum of 10 percent, taking into consideration the situation of each G20 country’s awards of public procurement contracts, was put in the W20 Communique of this year—for the first time ever with a target. Another recommendation was that alternative forms of credit scoring need to be promoted to give more room in financial markets.
Women’s digital inclusion
Our world is becoming more and more digital and it is imperative to include women in this trend from the beginning. Women, with all their diversity, need to have access to the internet and learn about digital technologies to create or increase their income, especially in rural remote areas. Since the W20 Communique of Istanbul, girl’s education in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) studies are recommended by the W20 world. Governments are asked to take measures to have a system that provides equal access for education in these fields.
Foster development of rural women
When compared with women in the cities, rural women have less chance and access to education, health and legal services. This discrepancy needs to be given attention and necessary investments need to be made. The infrastructure and protection of women from violence in rural areas is another issue for policymaking and government spending. We need to provide work opportunity in rural and remote areas. We need to promote cooperatives, access to funds and education mostly, so they can be entrepreneurs and they can be a part of local decision-making. The issue of rural women was a topic in the W20 Istanbul Communique, but this year, W20 Argentina put forward very good case studies of rural women, their issues and the successes they attained. The W20 Chair Susano Balbo herself is a successful businesswoman with vineyards in Mendoza, Argentina.
The inclusion of women makes economies bigger
When we can overcome all these hurdles in gender issues, we will all have a prospering economy worldwide. Women’s inclusion not only makes economies bigger, but also makes the respective economy more sustainable. This is valid since women are not only making the most of consumption decisions, but they also favor increased savings and investments for their families. They invest in their family’s education. The higher the level of education of a person, the higher the income of that person. This not only valid for G20 countries but universally.
* Gülden Türktan is the founding president of the W20 during the 2015 G20 Presidency of Turkey.