A BLOG POST BY BARONESS GOUDIE FROM THE HUFFINGTON POST
The G20 represents the world’s most important industrialized and developing economies and is the premier forum for international economic growth and development across the globe. Next month’s meeting in Mexico brings an opportunity for the G20 to recognize the critical role that women play in global economic growth and stability in roles as producers, consumers, employees, and entrepreneurs. It is the G20’s duty to call for women’s inclusion to ensure they receive access to finance, markets, ownership of land, and the education and training that will allow them to operate in today’s economy.
In these challenging financial times the world cannot afford to ignore the collective potential of women to contribute to economic development whilst improving the wellbeing of their families. Their business acumen is very often underpinned by a drive not only to improve their own future but also to provide for their families.
The meeting of the G20 leaders is an important event when changes can be made and challenges discussed. This year advancing financial inclusion for economic growth has been established as top priorities for the summit.
Women all over the world are constantly faced with the inability to provide for themselves and their family, blocked by discrimination and cultural norms forcing them to face an unnecessarily bleak future. Although women are often the main provider for the family, they are disadvantaged by access to finance or no access at all. If this was rectified they would be able to pay for their children to go to school and enable the next generation to have a better future, as well as be more stable providers for the family.
Agriculture plays a critical role in millions of women’s survival. By giving a women access to finance in a rural village, she can purchase a solar panel and start a small business through her neighbours paying to charge their electrical goods, or she can purchase livestock to feed her family and produce goods to sell. Equal access to finance will open many doors for these women who currently have nowhere to turn and are discriminated against because of their gender.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation and Farming First have produced an interactive graphic showing how women play a leading role in agriculture around the world and the challenges they are up against due to inequality. Investing in rural women has been proven to dramatically increase productivity and positively impact their lives. This doesn’t just help women but also the family they are providing for and the communities they are members of.
On average in developing countries, 43% of the agricultural labour force are women and account for an estimated two-thirds of the world's 600 million poor livestock keepers. These women are discriminated against by societies, laws, tradition and access, that prevent them from owning and inheriting land.
By removing these gender discriminations it would dramatically improve food and nutrition security globally, and enable millions of women to provide for their families.
There are signs of progress with the G20 Finance Ministers recognising the need to increase women’s access to financial services. This has been helped by the organisation La Pietra Coalition who has been asking the G20 to take action to advance women’s financial inclusion, by endorsing the recommendations of the IFC and GPFI, and to insist that progress towards those commitments for women be measured and reported publicly.
I urge banks to work to ensure women have access and support to be able to obtain finance. I call on the G20 leaders to create the environment where women receive the support they deserve and require in order to continue to build on their contribution to the global economy. If the G20 collaborates with banks we can really start to tackle the disparities that exist in the global market and work towards creating a better environment for women.
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