In order to enhance generational equality and unleash women's full potential through a women-led development strategy, panellists urged the G20 Development Working Group to aim towards a specific outcome
The first side event of the third Development Working Group (DWG) conference focused on women-led development, one of India's top G20 priority sectors, was insightful and educational. The Observer Research Foundation (ORF) and the G20 Secretariat collaborated to plan the event.
The side event commenced with an opening address by Samir Saran, who spoke on the need for not just greater inclusion and empowerment of women but also new leadership that will proliferate in the coming decades.
In his welcome speech, Ministry of External Affairs Joint Secretary Nagaraj Naidu emphasised the need to foster generational equality and said that women's full potential must be unlocked through a women-led development strategy. He emphasised that allowing women to participate equally in markets, giving them access to and control over resources that can be used for production, giving them access to decent employment, giving them control over their own time, lives, and bodies, and giving them more voice, agency, and meaningful participation in economic decision-making are all important for achieving peaceful societies, realising human potential, and achieving sustainable development in addition to boosting productivity and economic growth.
The session on "Women and Economy: Emerging Sectors and the Future of Work" began with remarks from Debjani Ghosh, President, NASSCOM, and Samantha Hung, Chief of Gender Equality Thematic Group, Asian Development Bank. This was followed by a special address from Mara Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, Executive Director, GWL Voices, and former President of the 73rd session of the General Assembly of the United Nations. A panel discussion led by Charu Malhotra, Managing Director of Primus Partners, and featuring Baratang Miya, Founder and CEO of Girlhype, Women Who Code; Susan Ferguson, Country Representative, UN Women; and Kajal Ilmi, Founder, MD, and CEO of Aviom India Housing Finance, followed.
"Women and Economy: Emerging Sectors and the Future of Work" was the first session of the conference, which was then followed by a spotlight session on "Women's Leadership in the Uniformed Services" and another session on "Women and Economy: Emerging Sectors and the Future of Work."
Mara Fernanda Espinosa Garcés emphasised that women-led development is in fact a major problem and that changing the narrative from one of women's development to one of women's leadership has serious consequences. Women's-led development is really about equality and power sharing. She identified five issues that must be addressed in order to create a world that is gender equal, just, and sustainable: redistributing unpaid caregiving duties; bridging the gender digital divide; increasing the representation of women in STEM fields and closing the literacy gap; ensuring women's economic empowerment; and increasing women's representation in politics.
The featured session on "Women's Leadership in the Uniformed Services" focused on women in the Indian Navy, from serving in the medical corps and as pilots to managing logistics and education, as well as participating in and even leading the march for the Republic Day Parade.
The experiences of Commander Shazia Khan, Lieutenant Commander Swati Bhandari, Lieutenant Commander Tavishi Singh, Lieutenant Commander Disha Amrith, Lieutenant Commander Roopa, and Lieutenant Commander Dilna were discussed. These experiences included working as medical officers in the navy, flying in the navy, building ships, and leading the naval contingent in the Republic Day parade. Samir Saran, the president of ORF, facilitated the discussion.
The third session was a panel discussion titled "Agents of Change: Climate Resilience and Food Systems" with Vera Helena Thorstensen, Head, Centre for Global Trade and Investment Studies, Brazil, and Suranjali Tandon, from the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy.
The discussion shed light on the necessity of ensuring women's leadership and participation in the construction of resilient food and climate systems. The climate issue disproportionately affects women, worsening gender disparities and endangering their livelihoods and health. It is essential that the design, creation, and funding of national and local climate policies take women's priorities into account.
Several international frameworks, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations, support development driven by women. Women must participate fully and equally in political, economic, social, and cultural decision-making if SDG 5 on gender equality is to be realised.
All of the panellists urged the G20 Development Working Group to work towards a concrete result that will help advance generational equality and unleash the full potential of women through a women-led development strategy, which calls for women's full, equal, meaningful participation as decision-makers for effectively, decisively, and inclusively addressing global challenges.