G20 presidency and equality


Women who work: Women on the way to work in Bekasi, West Java. The involvement of women in the labour market will lead to the empowerment and a higher level of welfare for women, which impacts positively on the family and the whole community. — The Jakarta Post/ANN

INDONESIA is assuming the Group of 20 presidency after taking over the rotating job from Italy during its summit late last month.

In designing and implementing its agenda, the G20 has always involved community groups, including Women 20 (W20).

Founded in 2015, or 16 years after the G20 was formed, W20 has been among groups involved in the G20 agenda setting process. W20 provides policy recommendations from a gender perspective to the G20 to make sure that gender is mainstreamed in the G20 discussions and translated into the G20 leaders’ declaration as a policy and commitment to promote gender equality and women’s economic empowerment.

W20 was formed from a network of inter-country delegations representing women non-governmental organisations, civil society groups, women entrepreneurs and academics from all the G20 member countries.

Every year, W20 submits a series of proposed actions and policy recommendations to promote gender equality and women’s economic empowerment in order to promote gender-inclusive economic growth globally. Why are W20 and the G20 important for Indonesia?

The challenges to achieve gender equality can be demonstrated by using the issue of the women’s Labour Force Participation Rate (LFPR) and how the work of W20 and the G20 can be useful for gender equality at the national level. The G20 has a tradition of working with various organisations to bring different perspectives on financial and socioeconomic challenges.

The groups involved are autonomous and work independently from the government and are led by local organizations from the host country.

They work with other organisations from the G20 member countries to develop policy recommendations that are formally presented to G20 leaders for consideration.

Indonesia’s G20 presidency therefore provides opportunities for discussion and plans to overcome problems faced at home and within G20 member countries.

The impending and most challenging issue for G20 member countries is the impact of Covid-19 on the lives of the world’s population, both men and women.

Globally, the pandemic has undermined gender equality as Covid-19 has created a heavier burden for women in terms of housework and unpaid care work. Working from home has led to increased time for women’s unpaid work by 63% as against 59% for men.

Since the onset of the pandemic, 67% of parents said they were helped by their daughters when it came to household chores, while 57% of parents said they were helped by their sons (UN Women, 2020).

The list of the impacts of Covid-19 on women may extend, only to show that women faced a multitude of problems.

A study conducted by the Pew Research Center in Singapore on 34 countries, including Indonesia, revealed that during the pandemic, men are considered more entitled to work than women. This means women lose access to income, resulting in increased gender economic inequality.

According to the National Labour Force Survey (Sakernas) in 2020 the women’s labour force participation rate (LFPR) in Indonesia stood at only 53.13%, far lower than men’s rate of 82.41%.

Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection Deputy Minister Lenny N. Rosalin has said the employment gender gap poses a challenge for efforts to increase the women’s LFPR, especially considering that the 2020-2024 medium-term development plan only set the target at 55%.

In their 2014 summit G20 leaders agreed on the Brisbane Action Plan, which among other things underscores the need to promote greater participation of women in the labour market.

Improving the quality of their work will contribute to a stronger and more inclusive economic growth. The agreement was intended to reduce the LFPR gap between men and women across G20 member countries by 25% by 2025. The G20 leaders recognised that such commitments required international support to progress. Amid the pandemic the agreed target is now more important than ever as the involvement of women in the labour market will lead to the empowerment and a higher level of welfare for women, which impacts positively on the family and the community.

The more women work, the more they become economically productive. W20 plays a role in monitoring the achievement of gender equality in the G20 leaders’ agreements.

Every year participants of the W20 meeting work to prepare recommendations based on those that have been submitted the previous year. They are equipped with new proposals in accordance with the analysis of the current situation.

As the current G20 leader, will President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo rise to the challenge?

The theme of Indonesia’s G20 presidency is “Recover Together. Recover Stronger”, which was chosen to respond collectively to the various problems that have arisen due to the impact of Covid-19 on G20 member countries.

W20 will make sure the G20 leaders’ gender equality and justice targets are achieved. The G20 presidency offers Indonesia a rare chance to show its commitment to gender equality that is undoubtedly vital to the economic recovery of all members of the G20 – and beyond. – The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network

Sita Aripurnami is executive director of the Women’s Research Institute and head of the Indonesian delegation to W20 in Argentina, 2018.

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