Global Solutions Summit 2021, Plenary Panel: Women’s Economic Empowerment and the SDGs: COVID-19 and Beyond – Building Back Better

Video

This GSS 2021 panel discussion and the related side event facilitated a discussion on the impact of the pandemic on women’s economic empowerment and recommendations for action by the G-20.

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This panel discussion and the related side event at the 2021 Global Solutions Summit provided members of the UNHLP and like-minded thinkers an important opportunity to re-commit to taking action on women’s economic empowerment, while building on the work completed in 2017. The goal of the panel was to focus on the importance of gender economic equity across the SDGs, particularly in the context of policy responses to address the economic and social impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic as we seek to build forward better. 
 
2021 is a year of rethinking and rebuilding our global society and world economy. Meeting the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis with its impact on global health, society and economy will be the foremost priority. The disruption that came with the pandemic has a silver lining: it is a unique opportunity for visionary ideas and transformative change toward a more resilient and sustainable world. In these turbulent times, global dialogue to enable collective action is paramount. The Group of 20, led by Italy in 2021, can have an historic role in coordinating joint efforts to overcome the social and economic impacts of the pandemic and strengthening multilateralism.

The Global Solutions Summit takes place in the middle of each G20 presidency, bringing together the research community engaged with G20 policies and thought leaders from politics, business and civil society. At the core of the 2021 Summit will be policy recommendations and visions structured in line with the G20 and Think20 priorities set by the Italian G20 Presidency, with an overarching narrative of recoupling economic, environmental and social prosperity and a focus on realigning our systems for a more resilient and sustainable post-pandemic world.

CHALLENGE
We are within the final decade of the SDG 2030 Agenda and far short of attaining the targets. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic is sharply increasing income gaps and structural inequities across the globe with devastating economic and social implications for women and girls. The challenge therefore is to identify and implement policy solutions to address gender inequities and improve social, health, and political outcomes for T20 countries and globally.

CONTEXT
The United Nations Secretary General’s High-Level Panel (UNHLP) on Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE) was established by then-UNSG Ban Ki-moon in 2016 “to address the specific economic issues that affect women and to support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its promise to leave no one behind.”
His successor, António Guterres affirmed and expanded this commitment recognizing that “Women’s economic empowerment is at the heart of the 2030 Agenda. We will not achieve the Sustainable Development Goals if there is no accelerated action to empower women economically. We know that women’s participation in all spheres of life, including in the economy, is essential to sustainable and durable peace and to the realization of human rights”. United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, March 2017
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated many of the social, economic, and health issues impacting the lives of women and girls and increased the vulnerabilities of marginalized populations. The work of the UNHLP-WEE, completed in 2017, focused on seven drivers that are particularly relevant for building back better and increasing the resiliency of women and girls in the face of future economic, environmental and social shocks.
This panel discussion and the related side event at the 2021 Global Solutions Summit provided members of the UNHLP and like-minded thinkers an important opportunity to re-commit to taking action on women’s economic empowerment, while building on the work completed in 2017.

GOAL and OBJECTIVES
The goal of the panel was to focus on the importance of gender economic equity across the SDGs, particularly in the context of policy responses to address the economic and social impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic as we seek to build forward better. Our objective was to highlight and advocate for systemic and transformative change in policies, programs and norms in order to increase gender economic equity and the resiliency of women and girls in the face of future economic, environmental and social shocks.

KEYNOTE
Rebeca Grynspan
. Secretary-General, Ibero-American Community (SEGIB)
Ms. Grynspan discussed the role of the Ibero-American Community in providing leadership and taking on women’s economic empowerment as an integral, cross-cutting factor in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and for the development and resilience of the member economies’ pandemic response and recovery.

PANEL

  • Moderator:

         Dr. Margo Thomas. Founder and CEO of Women’s Economic Imperative;                     Fellow, Global Solutions Initiative

Panel Members: 

  • Simona Scarpaleggia. Global CEO of EDGE Strategy. United Nations Secretary General’s High-Level Panel (UNHLP) on Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE). Formerly CEO of Ikea, Switzerland. Ms. Scarpaleggia discussed the critical role of the private sector in addressing the devastating impact of the pandemic on women and girls; The importance of commitment, action and accountability on the part of the private sector.
  • Luis Guillermo Solis. Interim Director & Professor of Kimberly Green. Co-Chair United Nations Secretary General’s High-Level Panel (UNHLP) on Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE). Formerly President of Costa Rica. Dr. Solis discussed the relevance of the United Nations Secretary General’s High-Level Panel (UNHLP) on Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE) findings and recommendations in light of the pandemic and devastating impact on women and girls.
  • Renana Jhabvala. India National Coordinator of the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA). Member of the United Nations Secretary General’s High-Level Panel (UNHLP) on Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE). Ms. Jhabavala discussed the critical issues facing women and girls at the base of the pyramid – particularly in the informal and rural sectors, recognizing that “the total COVID-19-induced new poor in 2020 is estimated to be between 119 and 124 million.”
  • Marieme Esther Dassanou. Manager of the AFAWA (Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa), African Development Bank. Ms. Dassanou outlined the key issues affecting women’s access to financial and digital resources and the critical role of the pan-African initiative to bridge the $42 billion financing gap facing women in Africa as part of the pandemic recovery and resilience.

AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION

The live audience included some members of the United Nations Secretary General’s High-Level Panel (UNHLP) on Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE) and representatives of the private sector, public sector, civil society and think tanks committed to advancing women’s economic empowermen