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Chair's Summary: Ministerial Conference on Women's Empowerment (MCWE)

Bali, August 25, 2022

The Indonesian G20 Presidency convened the second G20 Ministerial Conference on Women's Empowerment on 24 and 25 August 2022, in Bali, Indonesia.

The Conference brought together Ministers responsible for gender equality and women empowerment from G20 member countries and invited countries, delegations from relevant international organisations as well as representatives from official G20 engagement groups and initiatives, social partners and alliance.

Building upon participants' exchanges of best practices and lessons learned, the Conference managed to have fruitful discussions on promising practices and critical issues to close gender gaps and support women's empowerment globally, particularly in a post-Covid-19 global economy.

Recommendations from G20 Empower Initiative and Women20, have also been heard and considered, as well as from other relevant institutions.

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected every aspect of society, from health, and education, to international trade. Other global challenges remain, including climate change, unemployment, poverty, and women's access to financing. At the same time, gaps in countries' capacities to address the crisis continue. Views were also expressed on the impacts of the ongoing geopolitical conflicts on women and children.

Understanding the challenges and the need for collective action, the Indonesian G20 Presidency focuses on three priority issues, namely Global Health Architecture, Sustainable Energy Transition, and Digital Transformation.

Participants gathered at the Conference to discuss three main topics:

  1. Care Economy Post-Covid-19: The Missing Opportunity in the Labour Market;

  2. Closing Digital Gender Gap: Women's Participation in the Digital Economy and Future Work; and

  3. Women's Entrepreneurship: Accelerating Equality, Accelerating Recovery.

Care Economy Post-Covid-19

The session points out issues on paid and unpaid care that affect the economic position of women, especially during and post-Covid-19. Participants have noted that women faced set-back in job markets as the burden of unpaid care work hampers their opportunities. The session highlighted that it is important to develop care ecosystems and infrastructures, as well as to formulate family-friendly policies in supporting health, education, and well-being. Therefore, investing in comprehensive care services is necessary.

Care work is still predominantly done by women leading to the belief that it is women's job and responsibility. Participants acknowledged that care work is a shared responsibility between men and women, as well as the responsibility of countries and societies. Tendencies to undervalue unpaid care work and to determine the division of domestic roles based on gender were underlined as archaic traditional practices. It is therefore important to change the cultural view and stereotype against women that care work is not exclusively a women's job.

Valuing unpaid care work can unlock women's potential especially when the distribution of care work is equally distributed between men and women. This is significant in the effort to accelerate the roadmap of the Brisbane Goal.

As many countries experience an ageing population, governments' efforts must also focus on providing a strong and comprehensive care service system. Further, providing affordable and accessible early learning and childcare services will extend opportunities for women's participation in the workforce and contribution to support the economy, especially in post-Covid-19 recovery.

Closing Digital Gender Gap

In the issues of closing the digital gender gap, the participants highlighted the importance of ensuring women received equal access to technology, access to financing, and access to employment in STEM industries including leadership in the digital economy. Participants acknowledged that to increase women's role in the digital economy, the support of disaggregated data and increased education and skills are needed.

Another component for women to excel as acknowledged by participants is to open more opportunities for women's participation in STEM and digital sectors by creating a safe environment including acknowledging biases and cultural boundaries faced by women and girls because building infrastructure is not enough. Furthermore, developing women's digital resilience, and ensuring women's digital literacy should also be considered.

Participants understand that to tackle complex challenges in minimising the digital gender gap, multi-stakeholder partnerships are needed, including partnerships with private sectors, international organisations, NGOs, and education institutions. Nevertheless, as the development of digital technology continues to grow, without relevant intervention, support, and regulations, women might not be able to enjoy the full benefits of digital technology.

Women's Entrepreneurship

The roles of women in entrepreneurship including in micro, small, and medium enterprises have become an important driver for economic growth, especially in post-Covid-19. Nevertheless, women are still less capable in accessing finance to expand their business compared to men. This in turn has contributed to the inequalities that women face, even in a sector that has been considered crucial to transform women to be more independent and fully participate in the economy.

Enabling ecosystems to support women's entrepreneurship include equal access to finance, skill development, digital and technology infrastructure, and skills, as well as a comprehensive childcare system and early learning.

To promote women's entrepreneurship, governments need to focus on promoting the collection and use of sex-disaggregated data and statistics, implement gender- responsive budgeting, and strengthen collaboration and coordination with all stakeholders, both on national and global levels. These would contribute to the development of a sustainable environment and ecosystem to ensure women's MSMEs flourish.

Sharing Results of G20 Empower Initiative and Women20

During the sharing session of the G20 Empower Initiative and Women20, the recommendation to the government points out issues that are in line with three issues discussed in the conference. The G20 Empower Initiative highlighted issues related to women's participation in the workforce including in leadership positions, scaling up support to women-owned businesses, and extending skills in digital technology. The G20 Empower Initiative has also submitted a technical annex, playbook, and dashboard to support private sectors and government in scaling up women's participation in the workforce and business.

Women20 has identified five recommendations including non-discrimination and equality, women-owned and led MSMEs, gender equitable health responses and support for rural women and women with disabilities. There are seven cross-cutting areas identified as enabling factors in advancing women, including digital and non-digital infrastructure, gender-responsive policies, data transparency, performance monitoring, as well as increasing women and girls' education, labour, and leadership participation.

Way Forward

Participants called for stronger international cooperation and collaboration to further empower women. Establishing a network of women entrepreneurs at the national and regional levels can be beneficial to help advance women's active participation in the economy.

Building upon the discussions and recommendations, participants agree to support efforts to increase women's participation in and access to leadership positions, especially as decision-makers.

In this regard, a number of areas that require significant investment have been identified. These include investing in high-quality, inclusive, and affordable care facilities, digital technology, and MSMEs infrastructure and tools. The development of sex-disaggregated data and domestic policies are also recommended.

Finally, to ensure no one is left behind, participants fully support the need to focus their policies and programs on women and girls, including those with disabilities and in rural areas.

Having discussed the aforementioned issues, participants welcome the excellent work of Women20 and the G20 Empower Initiative on empowering women globally. Participants are also pleased that for the last two years, G20 has convened the Conference on Women's Empowerment, and look forward to the continuation of this commitment by future presidencies.

Women empowerment has been an important cross-cutting issue in the work of the G20. It is worth considering that future deliberations of the G20 could include a task force on women to further consolidate our work. Some participants expressed their support for this.

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Source: Official website of Indonesia's 2022 G20 Presidency

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