G7 leaders can empower women to unlock their potential

By Elise Legault and Megan O’Donnell

The G7 Summit. Leaders from some of the world’s most advanced economies meeting once a year, discussing the fate of the world. Can anything of substance happen at these gatherings, beyond some schmoozing, a leaders’ statement, and a few nice photo-ops? We believe so – that is if world leaders are willing to move past words and take action.

The 2018 G7 Summit will take place in the Charlevoix region of Canada today and tomorrow. This year, the Summit is an unprecedented opportunity to advance gender equality and women’s economic empowerment. Why? Because Canada has adopted a feminist international assistance policy and has pledged to put gender equality at the heart of the G7 agenda.

We are asking for G7 leaders to step up for girls and women everywhere, poverty is sexist – girls and women in the world’s poorest countries are being held back from realising their full potential. They are fighting for an equal chance to learn, earn money, and be independent.

Empowering women is beneficial to everyone. If every woman could unlock her own potential to work, earn and invest in the future, the impact would be revolutionary. If all gender gaps in work and society were closed, it would boost the global economy by an incredible US $28 trillion.

Despite this, women’s economic empowerment is a neglected area. In the health sector, there are ambitious and effective international partnerships, such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, or GAVI, the vaccine alliance. In education, there is the Global Partnership for Education. But where is the global fund or partnership dedicated to improving women’s economic opportunities? It is time world leaders ‘go big’ for women’s economic empowerment.

We think that to have a real impact, we will need donors, the private sector, civil society, and developing country governments to work in close coordination to make financial and policy commitments, and hold each other accountable to achieve results. Increased investment, coupled with improved coordination, would get us on track to improve women’s economic opportunities and outcomes, by enabling better access to formal financial services, land tenure security, local and global markets, and quality education and training, as well as reductions in unpaid care work and gender-based violence.

Let’s make sure the G7 leaders use this year’s summit as a chance to step up for girls and women everywhere.

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