W20 Highlights Women’s Economic Empowerment on the Global Stage

Wednesday 18th November 2015

The inaugural Women-20 (W20) Summit was held Oct. 16-17, 2015, in Istanbul, Turkey, calling on G20 leaders to actively work toward gender equality and women’s economic empowerment, and discussing policy recommendations that will support these goals.

The event brought together representatives from 20 countries and two international organizations – UN Women and the International Labor Organization. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan addressed the group at the opening reception, discussing a number of contemporary issues women around the world face and emphasizing the benefits of global economic empowerment of women. He also highlighted the importance of the role the W20 has assumed and called for G20 leaders to act on the recommendations that would come from the Summit.

W20 Summit“High-quality growth means more jobs, higher life standards and fairer distribution of wealth. The W20 has a great responsibility to contribute and offer suggestions to the G20 in all these areas,” President Erdoğan said.

GBA Chief Executive Inez Murray served as Co-Chair of the “Women’s Access to Finance and Productive Assets and Access to Markets” task force during the event, alongside Esin Güral Argat, Vice Chair of Turkish company Gürallar. Inez also served as one of two delegates from the United States, the other being Jennifer Bisceglie, Chair of Women Advancing Public Policy (WIPP). Together with several other task forces, their group developed the W20 Summit Communiqué, which called on G20 leaders to empower women through strengthening linkages between education, employment and entrepreneurship; supporting work/life balance; increasing the number of women in leadership positions; ensuring women’s access to finance; eliminating workplace discrimination; supporting women’s networks and women-owned enterprises; delivering adequate social protection; and contributing to sustainability.

In addressing the key levers to promote women’s access to financial and productive assets as well as access to markets, the Communiqué noted that successful models already exist in which banks partner with NGOs and women’s business associations to offer access to finance, market opportunities, business and financial training. The Communiqué called for the production of national-level sex-disaggregated demand-and supply-side data to encourage widespread adoption of successful business models. It also encouraged governments and the private sector to:

  • Support platforms that share best practice business models;
  • Address legal and financial system infrastructure constraints on women, such as access to collateral;
  • Encourage public and private procurement goals for women-owned SMEs;
  • Increase women’s entrepreneurial engagement with international trade associations;
  • Support and further develop business associations that deliver education, enable peer-to-peer mentoring and advocate for policy change.

The Summit Communiqué was ratified and adopted by the W20 Oct. 17. The recommendations were conveyed to the G20 during the Antalya Summit Nov. 15-16. President Erdoğan has promised to lobby G20 leaders to incorporate W20 recommendations from the Summit Communiqué in the Leaders Communiqué, and the W20 has asked the G20 to develop a scorecard to measure progress on the participation of women in the economy.

The W20 was launched Sept. 6, 2015, as an official engagement group of the G20 under the Turkish Presidency of the group, with the intent of achieving gender inclusive global economic growth. It is chaired by KAGIDER (the Turkish Women Entrepreneurs Association). You can read the full text of the W20 Summit Communiqué here.