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Special Content

Issue no 05, 29 April -05 May 2023

G20 Women Engagement Group W20: Prioritising India's Vision of Women-led Development


Today, India is witnessing a rapid transition from women's development to women-led development. India has prioritised inclusive growth and development, with women's representation and empowerment at the center of the G20 deliberations. Through the W20, the official engagement group for gender equity, the G20 is dedicated to embedding gender considerations into policies and commitments that promote gender parity. W20 meetings are envisaged to play a pivotal role in driving collaboration and providing further impetus to gender equity and women's economic empowerment.

What is W20? : The Women 20 (W20) was officially created in 2015 under Türkiye's Presidency of the G20, with the objective of focusing on gender equity. The primary objective of W20 is women's empowerment, advocating for the rights of women, and raising their voices in society. It was founded on the idea that domestic initiatives needed to be incorporated into an international strategy to see any appreciable changes because progress toward gender equality had been too slow and peripheral. W20 aims to ensure that gender considerations are mainstreamed into G20 discussions and translate into the G20 Leaders' Declaration as policies and commitments that foster gender equality and women's economic empowerment. W20 has approximately 100 delegates representing the 19 countries and EU which works collaboratively and intensely on the five task forces, the policy recommendations and drafting of the Communique. W20 India took over the presidency from Indonesia on 12th December 2022.

W20 India: Under India's Presidency, W20 is focused on actualising the concept of 'women-led development' with the vision to create a world of equality and equity where every woman lives with dignity and where every woman gets the opportunity to thrive, transcend and transform their lives and those of others. Chaired by Dr. Sandhya Purecha, Chairperson of Sangeet Natak Akademi, the primary objective of W20 2023 is focusing on removing barriers to women-led development and ensuring an enabling environment and ecosystem for women to realise their full potential. Since taking over the Presidency from W20 Indonesia, W20 India has signed more than 15 MOUs with various organisations as knowledge and network partners, and has conducted Jan Bhagidari programmes with thousands of women across 10 states in India. With a visionary zeal to enable women and foster change at the grassroots, the W20 is accommodating key stakeholders in the conversation from tribal and rural areas, agriculture, handloom & handicrafts sector, micro & nanoenterprises, Self Help Groups, Anganwadis, along with adolescent girls, women living in urban slums and homemakers to ensure intersectional representation. The goal that has been set by the W20 2023 is to ensure continuity of the W20 agenda from the past presidencies while establishing a stronger W20 global and national network. These inclusive consultations and actions will be feeding into the W20 Communique and G20 Leaders' Declaration. W20 2023 aims to ensure that the W20 Communique is representative and comprehensive and will provide solutions to enhance the status of women across the globe.

There are five priority areas which are the focus of W20 under India's Presidency. These include: (i) Women in Entrepreneurship (ii) Women Leadership at Grassroots (iii) Bridging the Gender Digital Divide (iv) Education & Skill Development (v) Women and Girls as Changemakers in Climate Resilience Action.

Agendas at the Inception Meet: W20 India organised its Inception Meeting in Chhatrapati Sambhaji Nagar (formerly known as Aurangabad), Maharashtra on 27-28 February, 2023. The Women 20 Inception Meeting officially initiated the work of the task forces under India's presidency of W20. The theme of W20 Inception Meet 2023 was 'In pursuit of Gender Equality and Equity for Women-Led Development'. The Inception Meet discussed the role of women vis-à-vis SMEs, climate action, education and skilling, gender digital divide and grassroots level leadership. The aim was to discuss, deliberate and develop a cogent strategy to target gender-related issues. Reiterating India's vision of establishing a world of equity, equality, and dignity, the W20 India launched the iWN365 initiative during the session on 'Empowering Women in Nano, Micro, and Startup Enterprises'. iWN365 is a women's startup initiative by iCreate that aims to aid and assist women in setting up their own enterprises and achieving financial freedom. The subsequent sessions discussed various other agendas to position women as active participants of the country's developmental goals. These included sessions on:

a)      'Role of Women as Changemakers in Climate Resilience Action', which highlighted the need for introducing a gendered-lens to policy designing at the global level;

b)      'Creating an Enabling Ecosystem for Women Leaders at the Grassroots', identifying challenges and pathways to ensuring equal participation by girls and women in political and public leadership at the grassroots level;

c)      'Improving Access Through Infrastructure & Skill to bridge the Gender Digital Divide', focused on bridging the gender-digital divide, leveraging technology and the IoT (Internet of Things) to enable women to break the barriers and institute themselves as core architects of human society. The emphasis was on India's exponential transformation in the digital Infrastructure that allows citizens to realise their potential and which has been utilised for the public good. The session also focused on finding solutions to the serious problems of accumulation of resources in the hands of a few, thereby giving them unreasonable power, while others struggle for their survival

d)      'Creating Pathways for Women through Education & Skilling', with the stress on the need for empowering women and girls through skill development and education in order to create pathways for them to take up available income-generating opportunities and also create new entrepreneurial setups, which in turn will contribute to structural transformation and economic growth.

e)      'Enablers for Women-led Development: Policy & Legal Frameworks'

f)       'Women-led Development in India', a special session focusing on India as a nation where "prosperity is represented by Goddess Lakshmi and courage is represented by Goddess Durga and knowledge is represented by Goddess Saraswati". The stories of unconventional women in India breaking barriers in different fields including in the Indian Navy, in grassroots entrepreneurship, etc., were also shared.

W20 International Meet at Jaipur: The Inception Meet was followed by another W20 International Meet at Jaipur, Rajasthan on 13th-14th April, 2023. The two-day meeting brought together 120 women leaders from 18 G20 countries to address gender inequality issues and promote women's economic empowerment globally. The session discussed the need of the hour to empower women economically, socially and politically and the steps to be taken in this regard by the Government. It was also observed during the session that India's rapid progress towards women-led development and India's G20 Presidency can unite the entire world in pursuit of common goals demonstrating the true spirit of 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam'.

Addressing the key priority area of 'Bridging the Gender Digital Divide', Mission Digital Women was launched in W20 Jaipur meet to reach out to 1 million women in 3 years. The mission aims to empower women through financial and business literacy as well as digital proficiency. Apart from this, it also intends to increase the access of women to digital and financial tools and the local ecosystem, hence they can start their own enterprises and expand their businesses. Another W20 Summit is scheduled to be held in Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu on 15th-16th June, 2023.

Compiled by: Annesha Banerjee & Anuja Bhardwajan Source: PIB/W20/AIR