This weekend marked the close of Riyadh hosting this year’s G20 summit. The G20 provided an independent platform for academics, scientists, governments, businesses, international organizations and youth to come together to find routes to establishing sustainable economic growth and facilitate collaborative solutions to global challenges.
I was delighted to be invited to take part in G20 workshops with a wonderful group full of youth, vitality and courage, and the desire to bring about positive change. One of the workshops I was involved in was the Women in Leadership panel. While at the summit, I had the privilege to meet many young women holding senior decision-making positions. This is a huge development for society. These women are making the changes they want to see in the world, and they all come from different political and economic positions.
The amount and diversity of ideas that have been shared at the summit is amazing. Of course, not everything went as planned due to COVID-19, but the advantages I gained from participating have been tremendous. It is a real joy to see youth and women’s empowerment coming together, making world-changing decisions.
The empowerment of women is something close to my heart and high on the agenda of both the G20 and Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030. Indeed, many of the vision’s strategies align with the G20 aims, and this year’s agenda has focused on three pillars: Shaping new frontiers, safeguarding the planet and empowering people.
Women’s empowerment, for example, took high importance throughout the year’s discussions with a “Call to Action for Gender Equality in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.” This asked leaders to increase female representation in decision-making, especially in healthcare, to develop financial motivators to facilitate division of childcare, provide better financial support for female business owners and entrepreneurs, and to reduce the gender labor gap to help rebuild the economy.
The B20, L20 and W20 — G20 divisions focusing on business, labor and women — released a statement calling on the G20 leadership to address legislation to better protect women. They stated that 70 percent of workers globally in health and social care are women, and that this puts them at greater risk of COVID-19.
Women tend to be more vulnerable to adverse labor market outcomes so legislation to support working women is vital.
Dr. Bashayer Al-Majed
We need to protect the women that protect us. This can be done by ensuring that they have adequate economic support and healthcare. Women need to be included in local responses and decision-making, and legislation needs to support this by the removal of discrimination and unconscious bias based on gender.
Women tend to be more vulnerable to adverse labor market outcomes so legislation to support working women is vital. There has also been a call for policies to reduce financial liabilities around credit repayments and rent deferrals, as well as legal restrictions around women obtaining credit. The latter better allows women to move into entrepreneurship and business ownership, helping to boost economies and integrate all of those able to work and drive economic growth.
The culmination of Saudi Arabia’s G20 Presidency for 2020 was this weekend’s Leaders’ Summit, with world leaders delivering press conferences and briefings.
This year’s Leaders’ Summit was bound to be heavily focused on the effects of the pandemic and how nations can work together to minimize the damaging economic effects of global lockdowns and the sad deaths of more than a million people.
The International Monetary Fund has forecast a 4.4 percent drop in global GDP for the year. It has suggested that the Leaders’ Summit needs to focus on establishing lower cost supply and distribution of vaccines and therapies to all to enable a speedy global economic recovery and “minimize scarring.” It sees a strong path in digitalization, and in the reduction of carbon emissions and trade restrictions.
King Salman, at the start of the Saudi G20 presidency, spoke of his hopes that the G20 2020 would “introduce policies and initiatives that (would) fulfill the hopes of the people of the world.”
Dr. Bashayer Al-Majed is an assistant professor of law at Kuwait University, a writer and an award-winning speaker on the international conference circuit. She is a strong constitution believer, committed to the importance of equal rights and women empowerment, particularly in the Middle East. She is interested in legal economic policymaking and solutions to diversifying the economy.