Since 2013, Chatham House has been working closely with countries hosting the G20 to raise awareness around gender-related issues, and ensure that gender equality in the context of growth targets is on the G20’s agenda.
“Policy-makers need to take concrete action to help women achieve equal access to opportunities—to education, to productive resources, and to full equality under the law”
Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, IMF. Chatham House Gender and Growth Consultation, Washington DC, 12 April 2016
More women than men are living in poverty in both developing and developed countries: women and girls represent 50% of the number of people living in poor households in developing countries and 53% in European countries.
In addition, many women are excluded from economic decision-making within their own household (UN, The World’s Women 2015), they also receive lower salaries than men, and work longer hours. Furthermore, they are often excluded from the labour market, do not have access to finance, and are denied property rights. Closing the gender gap, therefore, is a fundamental human right, but also smart economics
At the G20 summit in Brisbane in 2014, the G20 leaders pledged to reduce the gap in participation rates between men and women by 25 per cent by 2025. The changes implied by this target vary across the G20 countries: the gender gaps in labour force participation are largest in Saudi Arabia, India and Turkey, where the differences in male and female rates presently exceed 40 per cent.
Gender gaps are a challenge across countries at different levels of income: high incomes do not necessarily eliminate gaps as the countries’ social, policy and institutional contexts determine women’s economic opportunities.
Closing the gender gap is economically crucial: if every country matched the rate of improvement of the fastest-improving country in their region, the 2015 global GDP would increase by $12 trillion (11 per cent).