Gender Economic Equity: An Imperative for the G20

This publication is the outcome of months of collective work across borders to bring a discussion on gender economic equity into the heart of the Think20 (T20) Argentina. During 2018, dozens of gender experts, academics, policymakers and their organizations have been actively involved in conversations, conference calls, and international events to draft the Policy Briefs presented below. Their commitment included compiling and translating already existing evidence and good practices into specific recommendations for G20 members. It also meant communicating the messages broadly in multiple fora, and advocating for G20 members to advance gender equity within their own countries.

Our work would not have been possible without the invaluable support of Canada’s International Development Research Centre. A special thank you to Carolina Robino for championing the T20 Gender Economic Equity Task Force from its very inception, and to Federico Burone and Peter Taylor for supporting this agenda from Canada. We are tremendously grateful to Mariela Magnelli for her remarkable coordination of
this Task Force.

We would like to thank the T20 Policy and Research team led by Martín Rapetti, Pablo Ava and Leandro Serino, with the reliable support of Juan Delich. Their support was invaluable to spread the conversation on gender equity across other T20 Task Forces, as well as coordinating the peer review and publication of these Policy Briefs. Mercedes Spinosa, Sebastián Zírpolo and Martina Farías Bouvier from the T20 team were also extremely helpful in this process.

We are very grateful our Peer Reviewers, who generously took the time to comment on the Policy Briefs and suggest additional literature for the authors to take forward. Thank you to Sarah Gammage, Abigail Hunt, Manuela Tomei, Fabio Bertranou, Maria Arteta, Jessica Woodroffe, Stefania Fabrizio, Carola Ramon Bergano, Evelyn Astor, Chidi King, Emma Samman, Sophie Theis, Man-Kwun Chan, Holger Kray, Carolina Aguerre, Emily Taylor, Rachel Moussie, Sanna Ojanpera, Luz Martinez, Carolina Robino, Nancy Hoque and Valeria Esquivel.

To the Women20 (W20), especially its Contents Team, Carolina Villanueva and Georgina Sticco, and the W20 Knowledge Partners were a pleasure to work with. We are proud to have co-authored two Policy Briefs jointly with the W20.

We greatly appreciate the encouragement of Julia Pomares (Executive Director, CIPPEC) and José María Lladós (Executive Director, CARI).

By Gala Díaz Langou and Margo Thomas, Co-Chairs of the T20 Gender Economic Equity Task Force

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.

Download Gender Economic Equity: An imperative for G20 here.