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India's G20 presidency and the focus on women-led development

Gender is at the forefront of the conversation as India takes on the G20 presidency - here's why.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacting with grassroots women entrepreneurs.

As India prepares to lead the G20 this year, one of the top priorities for India is increasing women's economic empowerment and entrepreneurship. Through G20, India can find ways to further its efforts toward attaining gender equality in all economic spheres. In order to advance women's economic and social empowerment, the G20, which is the largest grouping of developed and developing economies in the world, can provide the ideal forum for women’s development, leadership and gender equality.

Women led development - major priority area for India’s G20 agenda

There has been an increasing presence of women entrepreneurs in India. The economy benefits greatly from the growth of women-owned enterprises. In India, there are 432 million women of working age, and 13.5 to 15.7 million of those businesses are held by women, which can give employment to millions of people. Women are in charge of a large number of businesses. Indian women are self-reliant and highly motivated to launch their own businesses. Over 50,000 of the start-up businesses in India are run by women, making nearly 45 per cent of the total.

As women are the real change-makers India has launched several government programs and schemes to assist women-led businesses. For example - Mudra Loan for Women to provide financial assistance to female entrepreneurs, Bharatiya Mahila Bank offers business women loans to launch a new real estate business or a small and medium enterprise (SME) in retail and many more schemes. A significant source of economic growth is women entrepreneurship. The Indian government Startup India program, for instance, has prioritised startup regulations for women entrepreneurs.

With these numbers, India can lead the way for women led development and women empowerment.

The recent G20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia, the Presidency of G20 was handed over to India. The country will officially assume the presidency on December 1, 2022. Indian Prime Minister while taking over the Presidency of G20 stated that as part of its G20 strategy, which will be guided by the recently released theme of "One Earth, One Family, One Future," India would prioritize "women-led development." He emphasized the importance of women in global development and said, “We have to maintain priority on women-led development even in our G20 agenda.”

The G20 nations can benefit from India’s achievement. The use of digital technology for development, inclusivity, corruption elimination and ease of doing business can serve as models for many countries. The Prime Minister of India emphasized the country’s efforts to promote financial inclusion, women-led development, and women's empowerment through the Jan Dhan Account, which would go global in India's G-20 chairmanship. The Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) is a National Mission on Financial Inclusion that employs a comprehensive strategy to achieve full financial inclusion for all of the nation's households.

India has shown dedication to solving issues centered on gender and women via shared cooperation. The first-ever G20 Ministerial Conference on Women's Empowerment was addressed in August 2022 by the Union Minister of India for Women and Child Development. In order to promote gender equality, ensure better healthcare, and increase women's safety and security, the Minister emphasized the different steps taken in India. The Minister also expressed India's support for the G20's efforts to encourage gender equality and women's empowerment among member nations.

India’s effort in inclusion and promotion of women in the economy can play a major role in its G20 agenda, having an impact on the other nations as well.

Women empowerment in G20 countries

The G20 platform provides a dedicated space for women's empowerment and ensuring that men and women have equal access to opportunities.

Across all G20 economies and countries, women are underpaid in their work, the unemployment rate for women is high, self-employment rate is low and are not treated equally. Following this, many G20 countries have focused their policy and attention towards women. For example - some G20 nations have subsidized the creation of jobs for women. The Republic of Korea, for instance, offered cash incentives to companies who hired back women whose fixed-term contracts had ended while they were on maternity, paternity, or childcare leave.

Since 2012, the G20 Summits have consistently focused on issues pertaining to gender equality in order to support women's economic development. At the 2012 Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, the member nations pledged to take meaningful action against obstacles preventing women from fully participating in economic and social activities. The following year, The International Financial Corporation and the G20 jointly agreed to establish the 'Finances for women' portal emphasizing on how important it is for women to have access to financial services.

The Brisbane commitments, which the G20 leaders adopted in 2014, aim for progress toward closing the employment gap between men and women by 25 per cent by 2025. Over 100 million women were expected to enter the workforce as a result of this promise, accelerating global economic growth and lowering poverty and inequality. The majority of G20 nations made further advancements in 2018 toward achieving the G20 gender objective of closing the gender participation gap in the labor force by 25 per cent by 2025. Achieving the objective, however, is still difficult in some nations where the gender disparity is especially high, and around half of G20 members are not on track to fulfill the goal.

Following the Brisbane commitments, Women 20 (W20), a network of transnational women's groups, think tanks, and organizations for female entrepreneurs, was established in 2015 during Turkey's G20 Presidency with the goal of advancing women's economic empowerment as an essential component of the G20 process. Under Indonesia’s presidency of G20, the Women20 concentrate on four issues: eradicating policy discrimination, assisting women-owned and managed micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), empowering girls and women from rural areas and those with disabilities, and improving health for gender prosperity. As India will hold the presidency, these issues will be discussed.

Women entrepreneurs are a powerful force in every country. The Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) was launched during the Hamburg G20 Summit. This initiative will be launched by the World Bank with the goal of assisting women entrepreneurs and women-led SMEs in developing nations to overcome the obstacles they face. It will offer financial support to women business owners and women-led SMEs, advising services to financial institutions to encourage more usage of women business owners, and technical assistance to governments to help them remove legislative or any other obstacles.

A women-owned tailoring business in Yemen was able to make personal protection equipment (PPE) during the pandemic because of the Islamic Development Bank's We-Fi program. To assist women around the world, We-Fi partners are working. The Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa Initiative of the African Development Bank launched a technical assistance grant in July to assist women business owners in Tanzania in becoming more bankable.

The G20 economies are undertaking programs that foster entrepreneurial environments and improve women's entrepreneurship through financial support, knowledge and development. The United States, for instance, committed more than $100 million in 2020 to advance ideas from women in business. Other G20 nations, including those in the European Union, Turkey, and Germany, have launched awareness campaigns and assisted women's cooperatives with training and research to encourage women's business.

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