Saudi defense minister, Yemeni leader discuss relations 

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - RIYADH: Economies squander a wealth of talent and experience when they deny women the same opportunities as men to study, work, start businesses, and rise to positions of leadership. That is why the G20 has made women’s empowerment a key feature of its program.

During its presidency of the Group of 20 largest economies, India assumed leadership of the G20 Empower Alliance, an initiative devoted to advancing reforms related to women’s social and economic rights and their inclusion in top decision making.

Such reforms range from enhancing financial inclusion, expanding opportunities for quality and gainful employment, fostering education and skills development, especially in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and promoting women’s leadership.

“The remarkable work undertaken by the G20 Empower Alliance empowers women to confront future challenges through avenues such as economic empowerment, digital inclusion, gender equality, education and training, especially in STEM fields, and networking and mentorship,” Sheila Al-Rowaily, vice president of the private sector delegation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, told Arab News on the fringes of the G20 leaders’ summit in New Delhi.

Sheila Al-Rowaily, vice president of the Saudi private sector delegation to the G20 summit in New Delhi. (Supplied)

Al-Rowaily was last year appointed as the first woman in the history of the Kingdom to serve on the board of directors of the Saudi Central Bank. 

Launched during the 2019 summit in Osaka, Japan, the alliance, formally known as the G20 Alliance for the Empowerment and Progression of Women’s Economic Representation, entrusts each year’s presidency with the responsibility of spearheading its initiatives.

These initiatives are tailored to focus on specific pillars and objectives determined by the host country. During Indonesia’s G20 presidency in 2022, for example, the focus was on promoting women’s economic empowerment and gender equality.

India’s G20 presidency centered on three core objectives — education, promoting partnerships, and fostering women’s economic empowerment and entrepreneurship through access to technology and digital skills.

Under India’s leadership, significant progress was made in advancing gender equality and in empowering women across various sectors, including labor force participation, financial inclusion, education, health, and leadership.

The G20 Empower Alliance leverages partnerships between governments and business leaders in member countries to accelerate the promotion of women to leadership roles in the private sector. 


India G20 Empower Alliance outcomes

  • Women’s Labor Force Participation: The G20 countries committed to reducing the gender gap in labor force participation by 25 percent by 2025. This commitment aimed to increase women’s access to quality employment opportunities and remove barriers to their entry and retention in the workforce.
  • Financial Inclusion: The G20 Empower initiative focused on enhancing women’s financial inclusion by promoting access to financial services, digital payments and entrepreneurship opportunities. This aimed to empower women economically and enable them to take part fully in economic activities.
  • Education and Skills Development: The G20 countries emphasized the importance of education and skills development for women and girls. Efforts were made to enhance access to quality education, vocational training and lifelong learning opportunities for women, ensuring their equal participation in various fields.
  • Health and Well-being: The G20 Empower initiative recognized the importance of women’s health and well-being. It aimed to improve access to healthcare services, including sexual and reproductive health services, as well as address gender-based violence.
  • Women’s Leadership: India encouraged greater representation of women in leadership positions across sectors through mentorship programs, capacity-building initiatives and promoting inclusive policies.

Collaboration with the private sector brings invaluable expertise, resources, and perspectives to the table, driving inclusive growth and gender equality. It is designed to equip women with the tools, resources, and support systems necessary to confront the challenges of the future. 

During Saudi Arabia’s G20 presidency in 2020, the Kingdom hosted conferences, workshops, dialogues, and capacity-building programs dedicated to advancing gender equality and women’s economic empowerment.

During its presidency of the G20, India assumed leadership of the G20 Empower Alliance, an initiative devoted to advancing reforms related to women’s social and economic rights and their inclusion in top decision making. (Supplied)

The three main pillars of Saudi Arabia’s focus included legal and policy reforms to eliminate discriminatory practices against women across different sectors; efforts to enhance access to financial services; and improvements to labor market participation by addressing challenges related to skills development, training, employment opportunities, and work-life balance.

Under India’s G20 presidency, member countries committed to reducing the gender gap in labor force participation by 25 percent by 2025, with the aim of increasing access to quality employment opportunities and breaking down barriers that hinder women accessing the workplace.

G20 countries this year also addressed issues related to gender-based violence, women’s health services, and access to education and training.

India’s G20 presidency centered on three core objectives — education, promoting partnerships, and fostering women’s economic empowerment and entrepreneurship through access to technology and digital skills. (Supplied)

In a significant move designed to expand educational opportunities for women, India launched TechEquity, a digital inclusion platform offering more than 90 courses benefiting 1 million users in 120 languages. Additionally, India spearheaded the G20 Mentorship Program.

Al-Rowaily said the G20 Empower Alliance brings governments together to coordinate and align policies, reduce conflicts, and promote stability in the global financial markets, leading to more efficient and effective policy responses to economic challenges, ultimately benefiting national economies.

The initiatives led by the G20 Empower Alliance directly impact policy coordination, economic growth, financial stability, development assistance, and international cooperation. 

The alliance creates an enabling environment for economic growth by promoting investment, innovation and infrastructure development through agreements on trade liberalization.

While progress in empowering and advancing women’s economic representation has been significant, Al-Rowaily said that there are still areas requiring attention and improvement.

“By sharing best practices, knowledge exchange, and joint problem-solving approaches through G20 Empower Alliance initiatives, nations can benefit from each other’s experiences and expertise to improve their own economic performance,” Al-Rowaily said.

 

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