Speech by Linda Laura Sabbadini Chair W20 at the Kick Off on 22/23 February 2021.

Nobody expected to live through such a difficult period, such a crucial time for humanity. The coronavirus pandemic has impacted our lives. It has sickened more than 100 million people worldwide. The shock we received was quick and unexpected. We went through a very hard year. Sorrow for the loss of so many people, sorrow for people suddenly losing jobs. Loneliness, decrease in social relations, revolution in the way of working and studying.

Many people remained behind. Living in already difficult conditions got worse. Everything happened incredibly fast. Female and male employment decreased, particularly women in the service sector. Then… the vaccine, a light that opens great hopes.

Crisis times can provide for opportunities for women too.

But crisis times often provide opportunity to achieve a very clear and wide- reaching awareness on the need to make previously delayed decisions. A renewed perspective may offer the possibility of bringing out unforeseen strength for positive changes. Decisions made can result in a common and shared growth and wellbeing. On the other side wider inequality gaps at any level may be experienced.

We have the opportunity of realising the full potential of women. It will not only increase sustainable growth but also be imperative for the existence of creative and inclusive societies, pillared by active citizenships The G20 member states have to lead the way in this direction. If the employment of women increases, the economic growth will increase and poverty will decrease.

The crisis of care.

People all over the Planet are at the epicenter of three epochal processes – the pandemic crisis, the climate crisis, the technological revolution. These three processes are converging in a big historical crisis and will have a considerable social, economic, and environmental impact for many years to come.

The Pandemic crisis drove a crisis in care, in this crisis women have played an active leading role at many levels in most countries: in the labor market, they are the majority of the health professionals, teachers, domestic workers, sanitation workers, elderly care workers housekeepers and mothers, shouldering an ever-increased burden of often unpaid care work.

But this situation is unsustainable for women. We need more public and private investments on health (in particular territorial services), care and social services, in general in social infrastructures. We have to invest in gender medicine. 

The climate crisis and women

It is necessary to adopt strategies to take care of our planet and avoid irreversibly exploiting its resources. Women can play a leading role in facing the climate crisis. The caring skills they have already displayed within activists’ movements are also allowed to permeate countries politically and economically.

Women take care of the planet. It is not a coincidence that women are at the head of movements. not only Greta, there are Riddhima Pandey in India, and Alexandria Villasenor in the United States, and others in Italy too. Women love interconnection, they love an holistic approach and, as women20, we have to give voice to these women. It’s very important to promote women’s empowerment, engaging them in education and employment opportunities for the transition towards a decarbonized economy, and providing development opportunities.

It’s very important to rethink urban design and planning, considering women’s needs in terms of lifestyles, health, and including public transportation and e-mobility solutions for women.

Tecnological revolution and women

Technological revolution requires high levels of care and awareness on social consequences and especially at the political level. This is a traditional topic of women20. A technological revolution can give a strong support to development of citizen care at  the service of thuman wellbeing but women participation is crucial in co-designing and testing technologies and artificial intelligence to avoid gender stereotypes in algoritms and support cultural changes.

The need of a strategical reaction

The governments reaction must be fast and strategic. Our expectations and our requests must be more challenging than before. Women have been impacted heavily by the consequences of this pandemic and risk more than any other to lose the progress strenuously made in the past years.

We must realize that the time has come to articulate our proposals, even better than in the past.       A change of perspective is finally needed.

The battle for gender equality does not only concern women but all of the world and must emerge as a priority for governments, for the whole G20. Women are the half of the world. They are not a disadvantaged category. They are discriminated we need to broaden our set of proposals and integrate the traditional themes of the G20. We need to go into more details, explain, insist, the G20 have to understand that the battle for gender equality is a common battle and that drives to a huge growth of the whole world.

Don’t worry about the length of our statements, we need to broaden the topics of our communique. The pandemic forced us and the G20 to.

A new opportunity. The Roma G20’s road map for women’s empowerment.

We have an opportunity. The latest declaration by G20 leaders established the need to launch a road map for gender equality. This is historic. We will have to decide the road map of Rome. It will fundamental focusing on some measurable and monitorable key strategic points. I would like to give you some ideas.

A first objective: increasing women’s employment

As a first indicator we will have to set ourselves a measurable target for increasing women’s employment. The situation is differentiated between countries. The Brisbane indicator was based on  the labor force.

The labor force population is the sum of employed and unemployed people. This indicator can increase even if only the unemployed people increases. It is clear, especially after the pandemic that has led to a decrease in women’s employment, that we are interested in the increasing of women’s employment and not of women’s unemployment.

A common objective of the Governments must be the increase of employment of women and not of the labor force. We have to indicate a target of 60% or 65% of female employment rate for 2030. Not of the labor force. This goal is better than reducing the gender gap, because the gender gap can decrease even if the situation worsens for women but worsens more for men.

A second objective: Increasing social infrastructures

A second indicator must cover both health and social care services, social infrastructures. If the crisis arises as a crisis of care, we must start from the care to solve it. We need to develop health and social care services in all countries; social infrastructures that lighten the burden of family work on women’s shoulders.

A third objective: an action plan against gender stereotypes.

The third key point is the design of an action planof g20 governments against gender stereotypes and cultural change. Gender stereotypes are automatic and unconscious cognitive processes, internalised from childhood. They become self-prescribed patterns of attitudes and behaviour that must be adhered to or else be socially sanctioned.

G20 Governments have to seriously consider the adoption of an action plan against gender stereotypes and for a cultural change. Government have to allocate funds for national plans to promote awareness on gender stereotypes, from training courses, to job roles, to the development of gender biased artificial intelligence systems.

It’s important to put in place a permanent educational programs addressed to both boys and girls from childhood, focused on sharing awareness on unconscious transmission of stereotypes in all fields (from artificial intelligence to media and advertising communication);

It’s important to enrich the representations of genders through: updating and reviewing of all school texts; developing of civic education courses and role-modeling programs. It’s important to provide systematic interventions to raise awareness among online and offline media, advertising, and public communication to share non-biased information, financial education, Stem education. These are only three examples of key points for gender road map. We will discuss it.

More investment in innovative entrepreneurship

Particular attention must be paid on entrepreneurship to take advantage of the opportunities of changes. Developing and supporting women entrepreneurship by training on e-commerce to support exports and on green technologies to push the transition of women enterprises to green economy and on financial literacy are crucial points of the empowerment’s strategy.

Building capacity of women entrepreneurs and female cooperatives and ensuring their equal access to finance and markets is another strategical point for the advancement of women.

 Put violence against women in G20’s agenda

Last but not less important: violence against women and girls. It could be considered a global historical pandemic. It’s a great obstacle for the achievement of gender equality, and in all its forms, (physical, psychological, sexual, economic,) is one of the most serious human rights problem and one of the most important vehicle of discrimination against women.

It effects their own fundamental freedoms, silences them and thwarts their participation both in public and in private sectors. G20 Leaders should consider adopting recommendations to prevent and fight violence against women, because women are more at risk of violence during the pandemic.

For this reason we propose to put violence against women as a topic of women20 this year and we hope it will enter the G20 agenda. We have to assume a women’s empowerment approach, not only an inclusion approach. We must be challengers. Focus on the strength of our proposal. Focus on the strength of our discussion.

Focus on the strength of women. Our battle is for the future of women and men, for the future of boys and girls, for the future of our planet.

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