As the W20 for 2016 concluded, and Susan Harris Rimmer and I farewelled the host city, Xi’an, China, I paused for thought. There is always a risk of blurring the lines between optimism and false hope.
I am leaning towards optimism in what I hope is a “New Normal” way of economic thinking, as new trends begin to emerge which could profoundly impact the future for women. I write about it here, in my article published, with thanks to Women’s Agenda.
We women of the G20 nations affirmed that we MUST take concrete action to ensure women’s full participation in economic and social affairs. We want action to measure the target of reducing the female labour force participation gap by 25% by 2025. Let’s look forward to progress for the W20 2017, in Germany.
In Xi’an, there was strong support from all delegates for a number of initiatives, including agreement to strengthen the legal framework and its enforcement in order to eliminate the gender wage gap, improve women’s employment opportunities, working conditions and benefits, promote reconciliation of work and family life and strengthen the social security systems in order to increase female labour force participation, recognise and regulate all forms of new and flexible work and ensure adequate social protection.
A very positive moment, a cause for optimism, was the fact that the Chinese Vice President, Li Yuanchao, arrived to open the conference, in a big signal that the Government acknowledges the importance of women to the world economy.
He was immediately forthright – declaring that economic growth does not necessarily mean the situation has improved for women. Then he took it further arguing that, basically, old ways of doing business need to be set aside for new ways, which should include the promotion of “women’s entrepreneurship, employment and equal participation in the development process.”