A commitment of USD 15 billion to help women in developing countries access jobs and global targets to get girls into school will be the UK’s focus for the G7 Foreign and Development Ministers meeting, which begins in London on Monday.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will arrive for the summit by Monday afternoon local time and is expected to join the discussions with other guest nations invited by the UK, which holds 2021 presidency of the G7 – which comprises Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, US, UK and the European Union (EU).
Alongside India, Australia, the Republic of Korea, South Africa and the chair of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) have also been invited to the meeting as part of Britain’s foreign policy focus on ties with the Indo-Pacific region.
“Ensuring girls get 12 years of quality education and women can work and earn an income are some of the smartest investments we can make to change the world, transforming the fortunes not just of individuals, but whole communities and nations,” said UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.
“This year, as we build back better from the pandemic, the UK is putting girls’ and women’s rights at the heart of our G7 presidency, uniting countries that share our values so we shape a better path ahead,” he said.
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) said the ministers will agree to invest USD 15 billion in development finance over the next two years to help women in developing countries access jobs, build resilient businesses and respond to the devastating economic impacts of COVID-19.
The funding is aimed at the 2X Challenge, a partnership between G7 Development Finance Institutions [DFIs] launched in 2018.
According to the UK government, it leverages funding from DFIs and Multilateral Development Banks to provide finance to female-owned and staffed businesses or products or services that particularly benefit women, supporting female economic empowerment.
DFIs are funded primarily by national governments and invest in developing countries and emerging markets to create jobs, boost growth, and fight poverty.
The ministers will also sign up for new global targets to get 40 million more girls into school and 20 million more girls reading by the age of 10 in low and lower-middle-income countries by 2026.
“Educating girls is one of the smartest investments we can make to lift people out of poverty, grow economies, save lives, and build back better from COVID-19. A child whose mother can read is 50 per cent more likely to live beyond the age of five years, twice as likely to attend school themselves – and 50 per cent more likely to be immunised,” the FCDO said.
“COVID-19 has had a disproportionate and profound impact on women and girls, including losing precious school time, reduced access to life-saving sexual and reproductive health services, a spike in gender-based violence, and increased risk of job loss. Now, these fresh commitments by the world’s leading democracies, driven by the UK, put gender equality at the heart of global cooperation to build back better from COVID-19,” it said.
The targets will be matched by the signing of the Girls’ Education Political Declaration on Wednesday, the final day of the summit, by G7 Foreign and Development Ministers, dubbed a bold new statement outlining the financial and policy commitments needed to achieve these aims.
The G7 will also re-commit to collective action to defend and protect sexual and reproductive health and rights for all, scale-up gender-based violence prevention and elimination, and ensure women’s voices are included at local, national, and international decision-making in the COVID-19 recovery.