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Angela Merkel Leads the G7
in Working for Women at Schloss Elmau

Julia Kulik, G7 Research Group
June 9, 2015

G7 leaders, led by a strong and determined Germany chancellor Angela Merkel, made a considerable contribution to the G7's 2015 priority agenda of promoting women's economic empowerment. The first significant advance with a specific target and timeline in the final leaders' declaration was a commitment to increase the number of women and girls who are technically and vocationally trained in developing countries by one third by 2030. This is in line with the G7's acknowledgement of the importance of increased entrepreneurship opportunities for women and the recognition that women and girls must be equipped with the skills required for decent work. Leaders also recognized that gender equality issues are not limited to the developing world: much needs to be improved in their own countries as well. The annex to the leaders' declaration laid out the principles on women's entrepreneurship, among them a specific commitment to counter gender stereotyping by developing measures to encourage girl students to enroll in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. In addition, G7 leaders would facilitate access to financing for female-owned businesses.

Another fundamental component of the G7's success in this area is the reaffirmation of the commitment made by G20 leaders at the Brisbane Summit in November 2014 to reduce the gender gap in labour force participation by 25% by 2025. This recognition allows for more concerted action in this area as well as overlapping policies that work toward the same goal. Furthermore, there was support for UN Women's Empowerment Principles, paticulalry important heading into the launch of the United Nations' proposed Sustainable Development Goals in September. A G7-G20-UN relationship in this area is essential for global performance on gender equality.

In addition, the G7 made significant progress on institutionalization and accountability. Merkel's commitment to the issue will continue at least until September when she hosts a G7 forum for dialogue with women and will extend to Japan's G7 presidency in 2016, which will will host the World Assembly for Women: WAW!. This will ensure that these issues will not fall through the cracks when the presidency changes hands at the end of 2015. G7 leaders have also asked the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development to monitor progress on promoting women's entrepreneurship, so there will be a single, unified public data source that both the G7 itself as well as external monitors can use to track progress.

Merkel has led the G7 leaders to prioritize women's economic empowerment for the first time, moving communiqué attention to women from its typical add-on position at the end to the second page, and by adding a gender lens to many other issue areas including food security, post-conflict resolution and global health. There is much work to be done, however Schloss Elmau was a great start heading into a very significant time for gender equality in global governance.


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