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G7 Performance on Gender Equality at Ise-Shima

Julia Kulik, G7 Research Group
June 7, 2016

After two days of deliberation, G7 leaders released a 32-page declaration with two pages dedicated solely to women's empowerment and gender equality. Women's economic empowerment and the role of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) had been identified as summit priorities months before by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Compared to recent years, G7 leaders did a better job of mainstreaming gender issues throughout the communiqué rather than tacking it on as a stand-alone section at the end of the document. Women's rights and empowerment were integrated into sections on the global economy, health and democratic promotion. In this leaders' declaration there were 11 action-oriented commitments on gender-related issues. There was also support for internal G7 institutions such as the G7 Forum for Dialogue as well as for external institutions such as UNWomen. This was the first time in its 42-year history that the G7 summit harnessed the power of UNWomen, the core international institution for promoting women's rights. Based on analyses of past summits, compliance with G7 commitments increases when leaders refer to the core international institution responsible for that issue.

The major shortcoming of the Ise-Shima Summit was the lack of any hardline targets or timelines for its gender commitments. This was despite G7 leaders having made such statements the year before at the Schloss Elmau Summit with their commitment to increase the number of vocationally trained women and girls in developing countries by one third by 2030. Furthermore, there was no indication of how they planned to the encourage the more equal division of unpaid care and domestic work between men and women, one of the major barriers to increasing women's participation in the labour force. This was despite highlighting the importance of doing so and acknowledging that increased female labour force participation is an essential component of strong, sustainable and balanced growth.

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