G20 EMPOWER summit inaugurated at Gandhinagar, Gujarat

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The G20 EMPOWER Summit took place in Gandhinagar, Gujarat on 1st August 2023.  This followed on from the Inception Meeting held in Agra, Uttar Pradesh on 11th and 12th February 2023 and the 2nd meeting in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala on 5th and 6th April 2023. During India’s G20 Presidency, women-led development has emerged as a crucial focus area on a life-course approach basis marking a shift from women’s empowerment alone.

The Summit had a total participation of over 300 participants (263 domestic participants and 70 international delegates). The international delegates were from 13 G20 and 4 guest countries and 8 International Organisations. These included Argentina, Australia, Brazil, France, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, UK, USA, Bangladesh, The Netherlands, Spain, UAE, WTO, ISA, UN Women, UN, UNICEF, ILO, World Bank and ADB.

The Inaugural session of the EMPOWER Summit was addressed by Union Minister for Women & Child Development and Minority Affairs, Smt Smriti Zubin Irani;  Chief Minister of Gujarat, Shri Bhupendra Patel; Minister of State for Women & Child Development, Dr Munjpara Mahendrabhai; CEO NITI Aayog, Shri B.V.R. Subramanyam; Secretary, Women & Child Development, Shri Indevar Pandey; Chair, G20 EMPOWER, Dr Sangita Reddy; Chief of Staff, Office of Executive Director, UN Women, Mr Mohammad Naciri; and President FICCI, Mr Subhrakant Panda.

The Summit marked the achievement of tangible outcomes alongside identification of commitments and recommendations encompassing all three themes of G20 EMPOWER under the Indian presidency – Education: A Game-changing Pathway to Women’s Empowerment, Women’s Entrepreneurship: A Win-Win for Equity and Economy, and Creating a Partnership for Promoting Women’s Leadership at all Levels including Grassroots. An essential enabler for all three has been Digital Inclusion. Over this year, G20 EMPOWER scaled up several ongoing initiatives, while also developing concrete new outputs.

Chief of Staff, Office of Executive Director, UN Women, Mr Mohammad Naciri lauded India for undertaking a women-led development approach. He highlighted that this shift in semantics from development for women to women-led development creates a seismic shift in power which turns women from beneficiaries to contributors. To the ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’ motto of G20 announced by India, he added ‘One Chance’ to signify that we have one more chance to get back on track to a future that is sustainable and the key to doing so lies in gender equality.

The Minister of State, Women & Child Development, Dr Munjpara Mahendrabhai recognized that narrowing the digital gender divide is crucial for empowering women to contribute more effectively to economic growth and for that, we need to focus on improving women’s access to basic and advanced digital resources, education, entrepreneurship opportunities, and leadership roles for women and girls. There is also an urgent need to collect gender-disaggregated data to understand the dynamics of the digital gender gap.

Union Minister for Women & Child Development and Minority Affairs, Smt Smriti Zubin Irani, expressed the hope that TechEquity, Digital Inclusion platform developed and launched at the Summit under India’s G20 Presidency would be of value and use for women around the world in education and subsequently as an enabler for transition and progression in careers, particularly in STEM. The platform has been designed to enable women from across the world to educate and upskill themselves on digital literacy, financial literacy and technical areas through training programs and resources provided on the platform. With courses being submitted by G20 Members and Guest Countries, it is envisaged that these courses will be available in 120 international and Indian languages. The platform envisages an outreach of 1 million users, internationally.

G20 EMPOWER serves as a platform to learn from insights and best practices across industries and businesses and strengthen knowledge sharing across the public and private sectors. Towards this end, the G20 EMPOWER Best Practices Playbook has been substantially scaled up under India’s Presidency. With extensive outreach and surveys, 149 best practices from 19 G20 countries have been added to the Playbook. The Playbook has been digitised to make it easily accessible. With the Indian Presidency having focused on women entrepreneurs and community leaders at the local level as a key theme, a fourth new focus area was added to the Playbook for encouraging the private sector to increase initiatives for women at local or grassroots level.

While congratulating the G20 EMPOWER team for its various successes, the  Minister for Women & Child Development and Minority Affairs, Smt Smriti Zubin Irani observed that India’s presidency has given a voice to women at the grassroots by successfully focusing on India’s SHG revolution wherein 80 million women in 8 million Self Help Groups manage 34 billion dollars of monetary value. She observed that the Playbook would now provide a glimpse into the lives and achievements of women at grassroots, stories which would otherwise have been unheard. For the first time, the KPI Dashboard would also for the first time look at the role of women in Small and Medium Enterprises.

Chair, G20 EMPOWER, Dr Sangita Reddy highlighted that to truly empower women, there is need to nurture their roles in leadership and decision-making across all levels of society, with the G20 EMPOWER recommendations representing a significant stride towards that goal.

Working Groups under EMPOWER have developed three papers on important themes – corporate women empowerment, STEM and financial inclusion.

In order to drive the participation and progression of women, G20 EMPOWER has onboarded advocates from amongst CEOs and organisation heads to promote the G20 EMPOWER messages within their companies, sectors, networks and countries. Under India’s Presidency, the number of advocates has increased from 380 to 544, with over 100 of the additions coming from India.

The Chair G20 EMPOWER, Dr Sangita Reddy also remarked that the measures proposed by EMPOWER are about enabling women entrepreneurs to become strong pillars of the economy. EMPOWER is encouraging the private sector to step up, not only as financiers and procurers but also as mentors and enablers of growth. A mentorship platform has been designed to bring together mentors and mentees as an outcome of the EMPOWER alliance.

As a first under India’s Presidency, 73 Inspirational Stories from 9 countries have been curated on the G20 EMPOWER Website to highlight success stories of women achievers from across G20 nations and invited countries to motivate the next generation of girls and women.

India has emphasized Citizens’ Engagement across its policy action. With the goal of making this a truly people’s G20, 51 Jan Bhagidari or citizen engagement events were held under EMPOWER to disseminate the message of women’s empowerment and underlying actions to over 100,000 people.

Shri Indevar Pandey, Secretary Women and Child Development remarked that the Hon’ble Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, envisions a new India where women play an equal and pivotal role in driving robust, sustainable, and inclusive growth. During India’s presidency, there has been a strong determination to uphold the commitment to global progress, with women at the core of achieving success in the interconnected pillars of People, Planet, and Prosperity.

Chief Minister of Gujarat, Shri Bhupendra Patel highlighted various schemes and initiatives of the Government of Gujarat towards the empowerment of women. He highlighted the centrality of women’s empowerment towards achieving inclusive and sustainable growth. He also emphasized on the need to bridge the gender digital divide and empowering women with the digital skills needed to succeed in the evolving job market being conditioned by new technologies.

Through the several commitments and initiatives, the G20 EMPOWER outcomes, commitments and recommendations will accelerate the creation of a world where women have the necessary skills, access to resources, supportive infrastructure and environment, and mentorship for a transformational shift towards women-led development.

Union Minister for Women & Child Development and Minority Affairs, Smt Smriti Zubin Irani concluded the inaugural session with her inspiring words “Make women a priority if you want to grow with equity and equality. Make women a priority if you want an empowered future”.