Sweden, South Africa, Mexico, Spain and Germany discussed economic gender equality and engagement in a global coalition
On 2 July, Minister for Foreign Affairs Ann Linde invited minister colleagues and government representatives from South Africa, Mexico, Spain and Germany to discuss economic gender equality. These countries, together with representatives of civil society, international organisations and private funds, will lead a global coalition on economic gender equality to accelerate results for global gender equality. Here are the key messages from the meeting:
- We, the Ministers in this meeting, share a strong commitment to global gender equality and women’s and girls’ full enjoyment of human rights. 25 years after the agreement on the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action at the World Conference on Women in 1995, the gender gap remains. This calls for intensified and concerted action. We therefore welcome the UN Women multi-stakeholder initiative “Generation Equality Forum”, co-hosted by the governments of Mexico and France, and are fully engaged in moving the process forward.
- We are of the conviction that there can be no peace, security or sustainable development if half the population is left out. Gender equality is therefore not only a goal in itself, but also a means of achieving all the goals of the 2030 Agenda.
- Economic rights are fundamental human rights. Yet around the globe, a majority of women continue to live in abject poverty as opposed to men. A majority of women also work in vulnerable, low-paid, or undervalued jobs. Gender wage gaps on the other hand are strikingly persistent in economic data. Globally, women continue to be paid less than men and as reported by the UN Women recently, women in most countries earn on average only 60-75% of men’s wages. The principle of economic justice and socio-economic rights for women and girls must underpin our work to realise economic gender equality and the economic empowerment of all women and girls. This is also a lever for achieving progress in other related areas, such as women’s and girls’ representation and participation, countering of gender-based violence and strengthening of sexual and reproductive health and rights. Still, economic gender equality is one of the areas that is furthest from being reached according to World Economic Forum. This underlines the need for action in this matter.
- Economic gender equality means that women and men have the same opportunities to reach their full potential throughout their life cycle. In order to attain that, much needs to be done, including the strengthening of economic and social reforms for gender equality and work against discriminatory laws, as well as changing gender norms and roles. We must deliver game-changing results for women’s active participation in our economies as creators of wealth, value contributors, innovators of new products across all sectors of our economies. We urgently need to turn commitments into actions and create economic opportunities for women in the margins, by building their productive assets as a primary driver for economic inclusion, giving access to land, digital id’s and financial services. We must recognize unpaid care work and equally redistribute care and domestic work through a gender perspective. Women and girls need to have greater access to work, education, training, and social protection systems. We must also work on ending the gender technology gap in order to empower women and girls. There is also great potential in the area of trade and gender equality, including in reforming public and private procurement regulations to include and benefit female owned-enterprises.
- The COVID-19 crisis has revealed and exacerbated already existing multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and inequalities. Women and girls are affected in a multitude of ways, including economically. Women have lower wages and pensions than men and are in majority in the informal, less secure, sector of the labour market. In addition, women are often outside social protection systems, but still bear most of the responsibility for domestic work, care work and the un-paid care work. As a result, this crisis has thrust to the spotlight the inherent structural precarity of women's roles in the labour force. Despite this, the COVID-19 crisis also offers a unique opportunity for prioritisation of women and girls in the economic recovery plans. Prioritising women and girls is not just morally right, it is also an economic imperative. Women have always been critical agents of post-crisis recovery, and investing in gender equality has the potential to stimulate the economy and reverse losses to global wealth. Recovery from the COVID-19 crises requires that we develop a clear set of relief measures through a gender-lens, to ensure that we build back better to sustainable and inclusive economies that do not leave women behind. Women in the margins, such as those in the SMME and informal sectors deserve special attention in this regard.
- With this meeting, we would like to underline our commitment to work on economic justice and gender equality through actions that will guarantee the autonomy and economic empowerment of women. Germany, Mexico, South Africa, Spain and Sweden, together with other partners, will be co-leaders of the Global Action Coalition on Economic Justice and Rights, within the framework of the “Generation Equality”. This is a five-year commitment to contribute to accelerated progress on gender equality.
- Today, we are all facing the same crisis. We have an opportunity to make gender equality a top priority in the response and building back from the crisis and beyond. We are committed to contribute such transformative change in collaboration with UN Women and other partners.