A Gender-blind Summit Demands a 20/20 Vision


CANNES, (Nov. 4, 2011) The outcome of the Cannes G20 Summit falls short of capturing the sense of urgency and discontent of peoples around the world due to the various global crises. In an attempt to address long-standing and entrenched social, economic and financial problems, the G20 has been short-sighted in its response. It has all but ignored women-centered and investment in women solutions, and delivered a gender-blind Declaration and Action Plan. In spite of a few women’s high-level leadership positions at the G20 Summit, it is disconcerting to note that dialogues and processes do not result in women and gender concerns to be visible.

A Global Strategy for growth and jobs: Fostering Employment and Social Protection

We welcome the G20 commitment to promote employment and decent jobs. There is no better protection than to safeguard the livelihoods and well-being of women and the provision of safety nets for communities. Decent work counters the cycle of poverty and a decent job is a sure guarantee against the trafficking of women and the feminization of poverty. We welcome the decision of the G20 to set up a Task Force on Employment, with a focus on youth employment. With the growing population trends indicating a boom in the youth population, the attention on this sector is refreshing to read in official G20 statements. In immediate proceeding, we urge that there is recognition of “women” in official G20 documents and specific commitments to meet their needs.

Reflecting the changing economic equilibrium

We are concerned that the G20 reaffirms the IMF to play “its systemic role” and that the G20 is ready to ensure additional resources, including bilateral contributions to the IMF, SDRs and voluntary contributions to an IMF special structure such as an administered account. This commitment comes at a time when many LCDs and LICs are suffering the consequences of having applied the required IMF policies for social and economic conditions. Strengthening IMF surveillance We strongly disagree with the G20’s affirmation to strengthen the IMF’s power of surveillance. Civil society must continue to counter the strengthening of the IMF by increasing civil society’s surveillance of the IMF and the calls for IMF reform, as well as for it to come under the review and jurisdiction of the UN.

Addressing Food Price Volatility and Increasing Agriculture Production and Productivity

We welcome the G20 commitment to invest in the research and development of agricultural productivity. Furthermore, we demand that this should be used to assist small farmers, in particular small-scale women farmers in an effort to increase productivity, increase income to sustain their families and communities with the goal to fight hunger and poverty. We are concerned that the G20 is urging “multilateral development banks to finalise their joint action plan on water, food and agriculture and provide an update on its implementation” at the next Summit. Our concern stems from loans that are currently being offered to LIC and LCD countries, increasing their indebtedness, to solve needs of water, food and agriculture. The practice affects the livelihoods of those living in poverty, the majority of which are women.

Similarly, we oppose the issuance of loans to attempt to solve the impacts of climate change on countries which have been already impacted by the negative consequences of high CO2-emitting countries.

Pursuing the Fight against Climate Change

We welcome the G20’s commitment to the Durban conference on climate change and keeping its promise of the Green Climate Fund made in Cancun 2010. We urge the G20 to designate resources to women-centered solutions to climate change prevention, mitigation and adaption. We also encourage the G20 to raise funds through innovative financing for climate financing within the UNFCCC framework.

Looking Ahead: Working towards a 20/20 Vision

We have highlighted specific issues of the G20 agenda, recognizing that this agenda is integrally linked with other global processes and agendas, in particular the Rio+20 Conference. What the announcement of the change of date for the Rio+20 Conference by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff means is that women rights activists have to work double time on duo agendas, covering the inter-related agendas of the G20 and the Rio+20 process, among others.

With back to back meetings and converging agendas, our hope is that governments will prioritize the rights of peoples and the planet over profits.

We will continue to monitor the G20 under the Mexican Presidency in 2012 and urge them to produce concrete long-term solutions rather than short term actions to address increasing poverty and hunger, entrenched inequality, worsening climate change, and the deteriorating situation of women and other populations of the “99%” living in tenuous and vulnerable conditions.

Contact:  Rosa Lizarde, Global Coordinator  +1 347 451-7794


Featured photo by United Nations Multimedia under a creative commons license. 

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