Last month, G7 leaders met in Elmau, Germany to discuss solutions to global challenges and reaffirm their commitment to universal human rights and multilateralism. The summit focused on climate change and the environment, energy solutions, pandemic preparedness and response, food security, foreign and security policy, and a just transition, as outlined in the outcome document, or communique.
But while the communique also included important language and some policy adherence on gender equality, there were few tangible and financial commitments — making calls for benchmarks and standards of accountability ever more important in subsequent years.
The communique does outline the gendered impact of the multiple intersecting environmental, economic, social and health crises the world faces today, and the rising tide of authoritarianism that drives the backlash against the rights of women and LGBTQ+ persons and emboldens discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression. It also includes welcome commitments to enhance gender equality and diversity in the energy sector; adopt inclusive and supportive economic and fiscal policy frameworks; achieve comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) for all; and place gender equality at the core of multilateral contributions to global health, including through contributions to funds like the Global Financing Facility for Women, Girls and Adolescents (GFF) and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI). It commits to promoting women and girls, LGBTQ+ persons, and other marginalized groups as critical agents in conflict prevention and resolution, relief and recovery, and long-term peacebuilding.
Notably, G7 leaders commited to strengthening the rights, resources and opportunities for women and girls in all their diversity “in the spirit of feminist development, foreign and trade policies.” We applaud this acknowledgement of feminist foreign policy as a guiding framework for prioritizing peace, gender equality, and environmental integrity, to which three G7 members — Canada, France and Germany — have committed to date, and hope to see this language maintained and expanded in future communiques.
Financial commitments include a collective increase of the share of the G7’s bilateral allocable aid advancing gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls over the coming years. While charting a positive pathway forward, this commitment is less ambitious than advocates’ calls for countries to dedicate 100 percent of their aid to address gender and at least 20 percent to support programs with gender equality as a principal objective. Canada is the only G7 member to have met the 20 percent benchmark.
Similarly, the pledge of $79 million for the Childcare Incentive Fund is welcome, but considerably more limited than the significant investments in social infrastructure and gender-transformative public care services which the Women 7 (W7) have recommended, such as investing an additional 2 percent of each country’s GDP in social infrastructure.
We also welcome the endorsement of the G7 Dashboard on Gender Gaps, which will cover indicators across a range of policy areas and be updated annually as a monitoring mechanism. However, in line with the recommendation of the Gender Equality Advisory Council (GEAC) and the W7, monitoring progress toward gender equality should be complemented with reporting specifically against G7 commitments, to promote full accountability.
Accountability will be ever more important as we continue pushing for more ambitious financial contributions and tangible, bold policies, which we were hoping to see in this communique. Certainly the nod to feminist foreign policy is a big step forward and, to match the urgency of the moment, we encourage the remaining group members — who have a unique opportunity to really set the tone for countries worldwide — to commit to the adoption and effective implementation of their own feminist foreign policy.