Gender Equality at the G7: All Talk No Show?
Vague promises about a gender-equitable recovery from COVID-19 litter the summit.
Women have long borne the brunt of sustainable development- with most environment-friendly products marketed towards a female demographic, women are stereotypically portrayed as caregivers of the planet. Meanwhile, men dominate ecological leadership positions as scientists, policymakers, and inventors.
Predictably, the trending “family photo” of world leaders at the 2021 G7 Summit at Cornwall was overwhelmingly male- with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen being the only two female leaders present.
The G7’s Gender Equality Advisory Council, established by Canada in 2018, aims to promote global gender parity. This year, the summit discussed issues including strategies for global recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Girls’ education was made a flagship issue of the summit. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson vaguely stated that the world should “build back… in a more gender-neutral, and perhaps a more feminine way.”
Research by the Malala Fund indicates that up to 20 million girls may not return to school due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.K. government consequently promised $600 USD million to improve girls’ education in low-income countries over five years. However, the U.K. recently significantly slashed its foreign aid expenditure, revealing that it's additional spending on education is now hundreds of millions of dollars lower than previous years.
The 2021 summit demonstrates that G7 leaders have once again made empty promises and divorced the intersectional issues of climate change and gender disparity. When will women’s voices be foregrounded in the continual battle against the climate crisis?