By Jaya Ramachandran
ISE-SHIMA | Japan (IDN) – Stressing that the empowerment of women and girls and gender equality are indispensable for their equal participation as agents of economic, social and political changes in their societies, the Group of 7 industrial nations have pledged to promote Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEP) of UN Women, the organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women.
A declaration by the leaders of Japan, USA, Canada, Britain, France, Germany and Italy noted that “globally, women and girls still face barriers and discrimination that prevent them from realizing their full potential”.
The Leaders’ Declaration comprises decisions of the two-day G7 summit that concluded on May 27. It focussed to a significant extent on the ways and means of implementing the ambitious 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development aiming at 17 Goals and 169 targets.
The Declaration also affirmed the importance of promoting and protecting women’s rights, and recognize the role of women as key actors to ensure peace and security including when addressing the threat of violent extremism, the ongoing displacement crisis and protracted conflicts and disasters.
“Therefore, it remains the G7’s goal to create societies where all women and girls are empowered and actively engaged for sustainable, inclusive and equitable economic growth and peace and where their human rights are universally respected and protected,” the Declaration said.
“With this strong conviction in mind, we are committed to take leadership in gender-responsive approaches to implementing the SDGs and addressing climate change, and envision mainstreaming gender equality throughout the SDGs and in every policy area, ensuring that our national policies and public financial management to promote equity, gender equality and women and girls’ empowerment,” the Declaration added.
The G7 emphasized three areas in this regard: empowering women and girls, including through capacity-building; promoting the active role of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields; and making concrete progress in the Women, Peace and Security agenda.
The G7 intend to empower women and girls to realize their full potential by building upon the outcomes of the past G7 Summits, the G7 Forum for Dialogue with Women and the World Assembly for Women (WAW!).
In this context, they are determined to ensure women’s equal rights, full and effective participation, equal pay for equal work, and equal opportunities for leadership, while calling for active engagement of the private sector, including through their efforts to promote the Women’s Empowerment Principles of UN Women.
The G7 declared that they endorse the mission of the UN’s High Level Panel (HLP) on Women’s Economic Empowerment. They reiterated their commitment to expanding opportunities for women and girls by building their capacity including through quality education and training, and supporting women and girls to realize their full potential.
To translate such commitments into actions, the G7 endorsed common guiding principles, the G7 Guiding Principles for Capacity Building of Women and Girls: towards Sustainable, Inclusive and Equitable Growth and Peace, that builds on the SDGs in the area of gender equality, health and education.
The logic behind promoting the active role of women in STEM fields and careers, is that a critical determinant of global competitiveness is human talent, and that promoting the active role of women in STEM fields and careers broadens the talent pool and enhances creativity and innovation which leads to economic growth and productivity.
The G7 declared: “We aim to improve women’s access to higher-paying jobs and to reduce gender wage gaps. Despite such benefits, while the number of women graduates in STEM fields is increasing, the share of women employed in STEM careers has shown little change in the last decade.”
They emphasized that, in addition to education and training, it is important to remove the gender bias that women encounter, promote institutional change and create legal and policy environments which effectively advance gender equality in those careers.
With this in view, they launched a G7 initiative, Women’s Initiative in Developing STEM Career (WINDS), to catalyze global momentum to promote the advancement of women in STEM fields and careers, in partnership with the OECD, UN Women, and other international agencies and stakeholders.
The significance of making concrete progress in ‘Women, Peace and Security’ is underlined by an appalling increase in gender-based violence in all its forms including sexual violence, in conflict and post-conflict situations, when fleeing a conflict or when migrating, as well as during and in the aftermath of natural disasters.
The G7 therefore reaffirm the importance of tackling all forms of gender based violence including in their societies, supporting those affected and holding perpetrators to account with the aim to address the culture of impunity, while making all efforts to prevent sexual and gender-based violence.
The G7 said they are also committed to work with the UN and others to advance the Women, Peace and Security agenda. In this connection, they called on all states to support full implementation of the UN Secretary General’s zero tolerance policy towards sexual exploitation and of the UN Security Council resolution 2272.
The G7 Leaders’ Declaration highlighted the importance of women’s active and meaningful participation in conflict prevention and resolution, mediation, peacekeeping, humanitarian response, peacebuilding and post-conflict reconstruction consistent with the UN Security Council resolution 1325 and its subsequent resolutions.
“We therefore call upon all states to implement the commitments they made at last year’s UN Security Council High Level Review of SCR 1325, and remain committed to supporting efforts by other countries, both financially and technically, to establish and implement National Action Plans on Women, Peace and Security or similar gender-equality related strategies,” the G7 declared.
Moreover, recognizing the under-representation of women among international conflict mediators, they committed to increasing the number of women in such positions. [IDN-InDepthNews – 28 May 2016]
IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate.
Photo: A UN Police Officer with UNAMID visits a woman's home at Zam Zam Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Camp near El Fasher, Sudan.