The G20 Ministerial Conference on Women’s Empowerment was held in Gandhinagar, Gujarat from 2nd to 4th August 2023, with participation by Women and Gender Equality Ministers from across the G20 and Guest countries.
The Ministry of Women and Child Development as the Nodal Officer for G20 Empower and W20 organized seven international meetings including the Ministerial Conference for Woman Empowerment. The Conference had a total participation of over 138 International delegates from 15 G20 Countries namely Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, European Union, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Türkiye, United Kingdom, and USA and 5 Guest Countries namely Bangladesh, Mauritius, Netherlands, Singapore and UAE. There have been over 60 speakers at the Conference.
The Inaugural session of Conference was addressed by Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Sh. Narendra Modi; Chief Coordinator, India’s G20 Presidency, Shri Harsh Vardhan Shringla; Hon’ble Minister for Women & Child Development and Minority Affairs, India, Smt Smriti Zubin Irani; Hon’ble Minister of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection, Indonesia, Ms. I Gusti Ayu Bintang Darmawati; Hon’ble Vice Minister of Women, Government of the Federative Republic of Brazil, Ms. Maria Helena Guarezi; and Secretary, Ministry of Women & Child Development, India, Sh. Indevar Pandey.
Subsequently Country Statements and Ministerial Statements were made by delegates from G20 Member States. During the conference, the discussions ranged from themes such as education including STEM, digital skilling, women in emerging technologies, partnership for promoting leadership at grassroots, culture and women’s entrepreneurship & enterprise.
The Ministerial Conference concluded with an address by Hon’ble Minister of State for Women & Child Development, India, Dr. Munjpara Mahendrabhai, the handing over of the baton to Brazil, and a closing statement by Hon’ble Minister for Women and Child Development and Minority Affairs, India, Smt Smriti Irani. The Chair Statement representing the views of the G20 Ministers responsible for gender equality and the empowerment of women from G20 members, guest countries, and representatives from international organizations was released. In this, they reaffirmed their commitment to achieving gender equality and empowerment of women.
At the Ministerial Conference on Women’s Empowerment, Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi summarized India’s vision of women-led development with his words: “When women prosper, the world prospers. Their economic empowerment fuels growth, their access to education drives global progress, their leadership fosters inclusivity, and their voices inspire positive change.”
During India’s G20 Presidency, women-led development has emerged as a crucial focus area on a life-course approach basis, marking a shift from focus on women’s empowerment alone. Through consensus-building on the global stage, India modelled a vision for progress in uplifting women worldwide with seven in-person conferences and 86 international meetings including virtual meetings that witnessed the participation of over 300 delegates from 18 G20 countries and 7 Guest countries. India has also added focus on the empowerment and recognition of women at the local or community level. Indeed, this was recognized by the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi, who stated that empowerment of women is the bedrock of our society’s development and their leadership, especially at the grassroots, is crucial for our inclusive and sustainable progress.
At the outset of the Ministerial Conference, Hon’ble Minister for Women & Child Development and Minority Affairs, India, Smt Smriti Zubin Irani, reminded the participants of the core focus areas of India’s G20 Presidency. These include Education: A Game-changing Pathway to Women’s Empowerment, Women’s Entrepreneurship: A Win-Win for Equity and Economy, and Creating a Partnership for Promoting Women’s Leadership at all Levels including Grassroots. An essential enabler for all three has been Digital Inclusion. The Hon’ble Minister stated that India had achieved several tangible takeaways and had several differentiators – leadership of women at local or grassroots levels, a Jan Bhagidarior Citizen’s engagement, and emphasis on women and climate change resilience. Indeed, Hon’ble Minister Smt Smriti Zubin Irani’s emphasis on women at the grassroots, including India’s achievements on this front, were reflected in the fact that the speakers at the conference included women achievers and drivers of change at the grassroots. These included Hirabai Ibrahim Lodi, recipient of the Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest award for civilians, for her work on women’s empowerment and education. It also included Rasila Ben, India’s first female forest guard and now Head of Rescue Department of the Gir National Park that focuses on lion conservation. These inspiring women spoke at an international conference for the first time.
India calibrated efforts toward education with a focus on STEM and one of the critical contributions of its presidency included ‘TechEquity’, a Digital Inclusion Platform through which girls and women can skill, upskill and reskill themselves in digital literacy, financial literacy and other technical subjects. With contributions from across G20 Member States, courses in over 120 Indian and international languages will be available on the platform. This platform will address the gender digital divide with an expected outreach of 1 million girls and women. Indeed, during the Ministerial Conference, the Hon’ble Minister of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection, Indonesia, Ms. I Gusti Ayu Bintang Darmawati highlighted the importance of the education and ensuring girls and women are equitably represented in technology-related education. She stated that education is the key for a future where women leaders are the norm and not the exception. The Hon’ble Vice Minister of Women, Government of the Federative Republic of Brazil, Ms. Maria Helena Guarezi emphasized the need to take action to ensure reduction in the gender pay gap.
Under India’s Presidency, 149 model initiatives from 19 G20 countries have been added to the Best Practices Playbook for G20 EMPOWER, substantially scaling up the insights and best practices from across industries and businesses available to the public and private sectors. The Playbook has been digitized to make it easily accessible. Previously, the Best Practices Playbook had 3 focus areas; India added a new chapter in the EMPOWER playbook to support women at the grassroots.
Such importance of leadership of women at all levels was highlighted by Secretary, Ministry of Women & Child Development, India, Shri Indevar Pandey who stated that such leadership is ever prevalent in India with the President of India being a woman, along with the vast majority of frontline health workers and members of Self-Help Groups.
For the first time, the KPI Dashboard for G20 EMPOWER would look at the role of women in Small and Medium Enterprises.
India’s Presidency has added substantially to G20 EMPOWER advocates (comprising CEOs, association heads and other leaders) promoting women’s advancement. These have increased from 380 to 544, with 100 of the new additions coming from India. The G20 EMPOWER advocacy pledge has also be updated to strengthen commitments to gender equality.
73 inspirational stories from 9 G20 countries highlighted women surmounting barriers have been placed on the G20 EMPOWER website.
Under India’s Presidency, there has been emphasis on the need for gender disaggregated data for improved decision-making, as well as on the role of public-private partnerships for impact.
Over 300,000 citizens were engaged through Janbhagidari events or Citizen Engagement to showcase Women–Led Development. Women community leaders, artisans, Self Help Groups, SMEs, corporates, and business entities from various states participated in these events to make this is a truly people’s G20. The Chief Coordinator, India’s G20 Presidency, Shri Harsh Vardhan Shringla reflected on the wide-ranging innovations towards citizen’s engagement ranging from walkathons to flashmobs, as well as the broad range of participations and stories shared.
Hon’ble Minister of State for Women & Child Development, India, Dr. Munjpara Mahendrabhai, added that “When we discuss ‘gender equality’, it is a reflection of how, we, as a nation have always recognized the abilities and potential of women and consistently strived to support their empowerment.”
The W20 engagement group added emphasis on the role of women in climate change resilience with a first responders’ framework having been developed towards this. This aligns with India’s Mission LiFE or Lifestyle for Environment. As Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi highlighted, women are brand ambassadors for Mission LiFE as they, for example, reduce, reuse, recycle and repurpose waste based on traditional wisdom.
In bilateral meetings held as part of the Ministerial Conference, G20 countries expressed appreciation for the Poshan Tracker, a unique ICT platform developed as a governance tool for monitoring nutrition services and early childhood care service delivery for close to 100 million registered beneficiaries including pregnant women, lactating mothers, children under 6 years of age and adolescent girls across 1.4 million Anganwadi Centres. In line with India’s G20 motto of One Earth One Family One Future, India expressed readiness to assist G20 countries to develop localised applications of the Poshan Tracker in the area of nutrition and early childhood care to develop a healthy tomorrow.
At the Ministerial Conference, along with the previous G20 EMPOWER and W20 meetings held under India’s Presidency, cultural performances, excursions and cuisine were carefully curated to showcase the rich cultural heritage, traditions & history of India. Exhibitions were organised to showcase women-led development. Women community leaders, artisans, Self Help Groups and entrepreneurs from various states exhibited their products with great enthusiasm.
As part of the Ministerial Conference, an exhibition organized by Ministry of Women and Child Development in partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), was inaugurated by Hon’ble Minister for Women & Child Development and Minority Affairs, India, Smt Smriti Zubin Irani with Hon’ble Chief Minister of Gujarat as the Chief Guest, Shri Bhupendrabhai Patel. The exhibition titled ‘India@75: Contribution of Women’ focused on women in craft; women in health; women in trade and economy; women in STEM, science and technology; women in nutrition and food; women in education and skill; women in sports; women in defence services; and a showcase of Padma awardees. Innovative anamorphic content was used to highlight women’s achievements in these areas. The exhibition showcased innovations and products by women in new fields such as AI and Robotics, as well as their work on car manufacturing in factories with 100% female workforce.
With women-led development as the guiding light, India’s G20 presidency outlined solutions tailored for women across education, entrepreneurship, technology, finance and beyond. Partnerships were strengthened, mindsets shifted, and policies transformed through camaraderie, consensus and teamwork.
Gender equality has been called “the greatest human rights challenge of our time”, and through its presidency, India advanced the G20’s role in meeting this challenge. Its legacy lies in enabling women’s contributions across all levels of the economy and society through a presidency which incisive, decisive and action- oriented for ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’ for the upliftment of not just women but humanity.
The baton now passes to Brazil to continue championing women-led development. With consensus and collaboration at its core, India’s legacy of gender-equitable policies and targeted interventions that have reimagined women as architects of progress and development rather than being passive recipients of the fruits of development shall continue to inspire positive change.