G20 summit: World’s leaders promise to get 100 million more women into work

G20 summit says closing gender gap will boost growth

Mark Leftly
Monday 17 November 2014 01:10
President Barack Obama, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meet during a trilateral meeting at the G20 Summit
President Barack Obama, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meet during a trilateral meeting at the G20 Summit

G20 leaders have pledged to get more than 100 million women into the global workforce by 2025 in a move they believe will spur growth and reduce poverty.

The pledge was contained within the communiqué issued at the end of the two-day G20 summit in Brisbane yesterday where the theme of economic growth was largely overshadowed by a series of rows with Vladimir Putin over Russia’s intervention in Ukraine.

In the statement, leaders said they aim to get the gap between men and women in the G20 workforce reduced by a quarter over the next 11 years. However, the charity Oxfam was sceptical over the pledge, saying achieving the target “will have a positive impact on growth but achieving gender equality will require other social and economic measures – including bridging the gender wage gap – to break the barriers to women’s full economic, social and political participation.”

In a victory for trade unions, the G20 also committed to create more “quality jobs”. Bodies including Britain’s Trades Union Congress have complained that recent increases in employment figures have included low paid and zero hours work.

The communiqué also committed the G20 to reducing youth unemployment, which is a problem across a world that is still economically fragile despite many countries recovering from the financial crisis. The IPPR think-tank warned this summer that even a full economic revival in the UK will not solve the crisis of more than one in six of those aged 16 to 24 being unemployed, and the communiqué described levels across the G20 as “unacceptably high”.

Jobs and unemployment ministers, supported by a working group, will report to the G20 with ideas to tackle the problem next year. They have been asked to look at investments in apprenticeship schemes and incentives for hiring young people, which could then be adopted as policies in the member states.

The main focus of the declaration, as expected, was to commit the G20 to exceed its current growth trajectory by 2 per cent by 2018, which amounts to about $2 trillion (£1.28 trillion). After working through the members’ growth plans this year, the International Monetary Fund and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development have forecast that the G20 is already on course to outstrip that target and find an extra 2.1 per cent.

“Our measures to lift investment, increase trade and competition, and boost unemployment, along with our macroeconomic policies, will support development and inclusive growth, and help to reduce inequality and poverty,” the communiqué claimed.

The G20 will establish what it described as a “Global Infrastructure Hub” with a four-year mandate to improve the functioning and financing of infrastructure markets, such as investment in major roads, rail and school building schemes. There will also be a “Global Infrastructure Facility” that will encourage more private sector investment in developing countries.

There were also more attacks on big companies’ use of the international tax system, with many multinationals seeing huge reductions in their tax bills by transferring profits to countries with a more favourable tax rate. “Profits should be taxed where economic activities deriving the profits are performed,” the communiqué said.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments