Gender Economic Equity: an imperative for the G20

Gender Economic Equity: a G20 Imperative

Gender economic equity is an imperative for the global economy, including the countries represented by the G20. This assertion is supported by data and analyses and is captured in the following quotation from the IMF which states that “Women make up a little over half the world’s population, but their contribution to measured economic activity, growth, and well-being is far below its potential, with serious macroeconomic consequences. …. The challenges of growth, job creation, and inclusion are closely intertwined.” [Elborgh-Woytek et al., 2013]

Labour force participation and its economic and social effects provide an important starting point. Even though female labour force participation has risen over the last 4 decades, its rate of progress has slowed down and remains almost 27 percentage points lower than male labour force participation. Women are less likely to participate in the labour market, largely because of their responsibilities within households. And, when women do work outside the home, they are disproportionately disadvantage compared to men, even when they are doing the same jobs as men. They face higher levels of poverty, higher unemployment or underemployment, and lower levels of remuneration compared to men. They are more likely to be engaged in the informal sector and the less dynamic sectors of the economy.

Worse still, these gaps are not expected to improve in the short term (International Labour Organization, 2017) and according to the 2017 World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, it could take 217 years to close the overall global gender gap, if the current trends continue.

This situation affects the growth potential of economies, the rights of women and girls, and the general economic and social well-being of societies. From a human right’s perspective, there is little question that closing gender gaps is the right thing to do. Moreover, a growing body of work argues that reducing gender inequality is economically beneficial, making the case that encouraging female economic participation, improving access to quality child care, and equitable professional opportunities in the job market can yield significant economic returns.

In light of its critical role in the global economy, the G20 has a responsibility and the capability to deliver on gender equity. In 2014, G20 countries committed to reducing the gender participation gap by 25% by 2025 (target known as “25 by 25). Despite this commitment, G20 countries have not translated these agreements into specific domestic measures and public policies with the requisite budgetary allocations for implementation.

The 2018 Argentine Presidency of the G20 has committed to fostering “women’s empowerment, the elimination of gender disparities in employment, science, technology and education, and protection from all forms of gender-based violence.” In this context, the T20 has taken the ground-breaking step of establishing a Task Force on Gender Economic Equity comprised of by 56 scholars from 43 institutes and 19 countries. This Task Force has collaborated with and provided support to the Women 20 (W20) in advancing the issues of gender economic equity in G20 countries.

The agenda of the Gender Economic Equity Taskforce was defined jointly with W20 and is structured by W20’s four priorities during 2018: 1) Labour inclusion, 2) Financial inclusion, 3) Digital inclusion, and 4) Rural Women. For each of these pillars a policy brief was produced. The researchers participating in this taskforce agreed to add three other briefs. Firstly, one on gender mainstreaming, given that this was one of the priorities stated by the Argentine Government for the G20. Secondly, a brief on the future of work and its implications on the gender divide, since the future of labour was the main thematic priority of Argentina. Finally, a policy brief on Care needs, as it is probably the most crucial determinant for economic empowerment of women worldwide. These seven policy briefs are presented in this publication as part of the collaborative work that was done by researchers of the T20’s Gender Economic Equity Taskforce throughout the Argentine Presidency of G20 in 2018.

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