We call on G20 leaders to ensure inclusive economic recovery, says Salma al-Rashid

 thehindu.com  11/22/2020 18:53:43 

The Women 20 (W20) is an official engagement group of the G20, and ensures gender considerations are mainstreamed into G20 discussions. This years W20 Sherpa, Salma al-Rashid stressed the need for member states to foster gender equality as they reset their economies.

The W20 comprises representatives from across the member states  19 countries and the European Union. We are independent of governments, and our members represent the voices of the people and are from entrepreneur leadership, academics, professors, civil society leaders.

Our main task is to put forth policy recommendations that ensure further advancing of womens economic empowerment and to ensure gender considerations are at the forefront of G20 discussions.

We shared our Communique last month. It contains two sets of recommendations. We are calling on the G20 leaders to take immediate action to ensure economic recovery is based on the principle of inclusiveness. We are also pushing for legal and social reform as well as equitable labour and financial inclusion and G20 accountability. These are recommendations to ensure that G20 is able to achieve SDGs and sustainable balanced growth that provides for everyone.

The process we follow for drafting our communique is the same as that followed by the G20, which includes consensus building and not just paying attention to the voice of the majority. Each one of us has to agree on what our priorities are. The realities of women across different countries are different, but they are also the same. We worry about flexible working hours, access to healthcare, infrastructure. But our starting points may be different. So, we need to bring everyone together to prepare our recommendations.

This is a concern for the W20, and we call it the missing voices. Womens voices have been largely missing in the response teams, committees, and the initial support package even though this is the first war that is being fought with women at the frontline. We have called upon the G20 in its Extraordinary Summit in March to ensure inclusive decision making. Whether it is reproductive health or gender-based violence, we need to ensure a gendered approach to this pandemic.

COVID-19 did not show us anything we didn't know. But it laid them bare. This is an opportunity to reset and build back better. Before the pandemic, there were a 740 million women in the informal sector; women constitute 70% of social and health sector, and at the same time one of the sectors which had high promise of closing the gender gap i.e. the tourism sector, was hit the hardest. When the pandemic came it hit in the toughest places.

Alnahda is hosting the W20 in Saudi Arabia. So, W20 gave us an opportunity locally, in Saudi Arabia, to convene a series of national dialogues. These national dialogues were the first of its kind to really have a participatory approach to policymaking. We had presentations that were attended by over 700 people, we had over 100 experts come together representing different sectors of the society . Academics, nonprofits, civil society, private sector, and government come together to have discussions around the W20.

My colleagues at Anhads research centre have been doing some research and analysis to understand how women from low socio-economic backgrounds were affected. These were mostly female-led households  there is more stress at home  and what you say about India (about a surge in domestic violence and rise in child marriages) is also true for rest of the world and for Saudi Arabia.

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