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Generating Gender Equality through GEAC's Recommendations
to the G7's Cornwall Summit

Julia Kulik, G7 Research Group
June 12, 2021

On June 11, 2021, the Gender Equality Advisory Council (GEAC) – an independent group of world-leading experts on gender equality – published recommendations to the G7 to drive global gender equality. The recommendations were presented virtually by Sarah Sands, GEAC chair, to the G7 leaders during their first Cornwall Summit session on "Building Back Better from COVID-19."

Aligned with the broader summit priorities, the GEAC recommendations were made in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic recovery, in recognition of its disproportionate impact on women and girls. GEAC's call to action is also aligned with the G7's core principles of open society, freedom and human rights, with a specific focus on education, economic empowerment, and ending violence against women and girls. The GEAC called on G7 leaders to use three types of mechanisms in their commitments: 1. measurement and accountability, with gender-differentiated data and established baselines; 2. Inclusion, through representation of all genders and other intersecting identities at all levels of authority; and 3. legislation.

The GEAC made 14 recommendations to the G7, with specific sub-recommendations on each, including (but not limited to):

  1. Acknowledge the disproportionate effect of COVID-19 on women and girls, globally, and increase funding for, and dedicate action toward gender-transformative development programming, sexual and reproductive health services, and addressing the "shadow pandemic" of violence against women and girls.
  2. Implement and track a pandemic response and recovery that takes account of the needs of women and girls.
  3. Build on G7 foreign and development ministers' commitments on girls' education and, domestically, support schools to implement gender-responsive policies to benefit girls' physical and mental well-being.
  4. Strengthen domestic and international social care infrastructure and access to affordable quality care, including childcare, through increased public investment to address gender imbalances in care work, both paid and unpaid.
  5. Remove barriers and create opportunities for jobs and funding for women to thrive in the modern economy.
  6. Recognize the impact of global trade on women as traders, workers and consumers, with G7 leaders building trading relationships that benefit women and girls around the world.
  7. Take a gender-responsive approach to climate financing, investment and policies, including at the 26th Conference to the Parties (COP) on climate change in Glasgow in November, and target investment in girls' education, re-skilling of women and lifelong learning to ensure that women and girls can benefit from the "green revolution."
  8. Acknowledge the risk to global prosperity and women's economic empowerment caused by a gender imbalance in education and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and commit to prioritizing progress toward gender parity through concrete action.
  9. Address the digital gender divide by supporting initiatives that provide women and girls in all areas with affordable, reliable and safe internet and mobile services; and to counteract algorithm bias that puts women, girls and marginalized groups at a disadvantage.
  10. End to the stereotyping and unequal treatment of women in the media, including by endorsing the Generation Equality Forum Charter of Commitments for Cultural and Creative Industries.
  11. End violence against women and girls through increased investment in prevention and response; the ratification of relevant conventions, including the Istanbul Convention; and enhanced support for eradicating female genital mutilation.
  12. Tackle online harassment and abuse of women and girls, through the introduction of legislation that establishes a duty of care on technology companies to improve the safety of users online, including appropriate controls for online pornography sites.
  13. Condemn sexual violence used as a weapon of war as an international red line, by developing an International Convention to denounce it, in line with other prohibited weapons in war such as landmines and chemical weapons.
  14. Monitor progress on gender equality, and accountability on commitments, including the Sustainable Development Goals, through the establishment of a G7 GEAC observatory mechanism to measure and report on G7 progress.

Three distinct recommendations stand out here, in addition to those recommendations that have been made before and those related to commitments made previously by the G7. First, to take a gender-responsive approach to climate finance and policies, including at COP 26. Thus far, the G7 has done little to address the disproportionate impact of climate change on women and girls, so this recommendation is critical. Second, developing an international convention to denounce sexual violence in conflict, building on the legacy of the UK's Lough Erne Summit in 2013, where progress has stalled. Third, establish a G7 GEAC body to monitor and evaluate progress made, which is badly needed not only to monitor G7 progress but also the uptake of GEAC recommendations by G7 members.

Whether the G7 will act on the recommendations laid out by the GEAC remains to be seen. One positive sign was the (virtual) face-to-face time given to the GEAC with the leaders on the summit's first day. However, the initial allotment of time for the gender equality session was shortened as the economy session ran longer than planned, which meant leaders had less time to fine-tune the details and reach consensus.

The G7's past record on increasing the number and scope of its gender equality commitments is good. In recent years, there has been a steady number of commitments on the GEAC's core focus of education, economic empowerment and ending violence against women. However, the G7's record on compliance with those commitments has been less impressive, with an average of 73%, slightly below the overall average of 76% across all subjects. Here, the GEAC's proposed monitoring mechanism can help.

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