W20 Summit Inaugural Session

Business MInutes

The much-awaited communique of the W20 was released in the inaugural session of the W20 Summit on 15th June 2023, in the presence of Dr. Sandhya Purecha, Chair W20 2023, Chairperson Sangeet Natak Akademi; Dr. Shamika Ravi, Member of the Economic Advisory Council of the Prime Minister of India & Lead -W20 2023 Communique Drafting Committee; Dr. Shombi Sharp, UN Resident Coordinator, India; Mr. Amitabh Kant, Sherpa G20; Ms. Dharitri Patnaik, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist, Chief Coordinator of W20. A keynote address was delivered by Ms. Smriti Zubin Irani, Honourable Minister of Women and Child Development, Government of India.

Ms. Smriti Zubin Irani, Honourable Minister of Women and Child Development, Government of India welcomed all the W20 delegates to the culturally and historically rich town of Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu and shared its rich history with them. She quoted one of the most transformative philosophies of India emanating from Tirukkuraḷ, a classic Tamil Literature text, which states that “Wisdom is a weapon to war of destruction, It is an inner fortress that enemies cannot destroy.” She applauded the W20 Communique Drafting Committee for drafting an ambitious yet attainable communique and reflected on the 3 key pillars of the efforts undertaken by W20. Recalling her remarks at the inception meeting of W20 earlier this year, she reiterated the importance of centralising the need of women and children amidst climate change. In 2018, a UN report pointed out that out of all the people displaced due to climate change, 80% were women. She explained how climate change exposes women and children to health risks, risks by disease or risks where access to services is limited. Honourable Minister elaborated on the linkage between women and climate change and stressed the need for women-led development, stating that “it is better that we lead with calamity now than to ensure that all humanity leads to disaster”.

She spoke about bridging the gender digital divide, a key priority area of W20, and emphasised that there is a need to enhance the conversation around gender-biased coded technology and technological products. Honourable Minister mentioned that there is a potential to create 300 million more jobs that would inevitably belong to women. She also highlighted the potential of the care economy services segment in terms of the economic opportunities that it can create for women.

She stressed that to seek more opportunities for women in economies around the world where the use of technology in administration is rising, we need to break the language barrier in access to technology. Honourable Minister told that AI should be looked upon from a Gendered lens, and discussions on technology should be focussed on what AI brings for women across the world. She then reiterated the words of the G20 Sherpa and called out men to support and be a part of this change to “Women-led development”.

Honourable Minister pointed out that only when women are at the forefront of economic leadership, a societal change can be stirred. She further said that the time has come for us to transition not only in words but also action, commending the action-oriented approach of W20. She also affirmed her faith in the communique drafted by W20 India and called it not only formidable but also attainable, and an instrument that would make G20 future ready.

Dr. Sandhya Purecha welcomed the international delegates and shared the progress made by W20 India. She elaborated on the knowledge products released by W20 India which include a Compendium on Women-Led Development, First Respondent Framework for Climate Change, White Paper on Health and Gender Pay Gap, and Women Entrepreneurship. She also mentioned about the W20’s ‘MISSION DIGITAL WOMEN’, a program launched during the W20 Second International Meeting to provide women with financial and digital literacy and skilling. Dr. Purecha emphasised W20 India’s focus on inclusivity and increased citizen participation through Janbhagidaris (Citizens’ Connect Programs).

Dr. Shamika Ravi, Member of the Economic Advisory Council of the Prime Minister of India & Lead -W20 2023 Communique Drafting Committee, elaborated on the key priority areas of W20 India. She emphasised the importance of advancing on previous commitments of equity and equality asking each country to develop and improve on a national gender strategy, funded and tracked using gender-sensitive and gender disaggregate data. She also suggested creating an annual G20 report and review mechanism to track the implementation of the W20 action plan to improve the communique drafting process.

Dr. Shombi Sharp, UN Resident Coordinator, India advocated for having more women in parliaments, emphasising that increased involvement of women in decision-making bodies is positively correlated to better climate action policies and increased investment in healthcare. He stressed the need for uplifting women to leadership positions in management, with the objective of economically empowering women.

Mr. Amitabh Kant, Sherpa G20 emphasised removing all obstacles that hinder the progress and empowerment of women globally. He applauded the W20 Communique 2023 for being forward-looking and proposing a national gender strategy based on data. He emphasised adopting radical economic policies to bring about women’s economic empowerment and achieve gender equality within a decade. 

After the release of the W20 Communique, Honourable Minister announced that at the beginning of this journey with the Sherpa, they were assured that he would ensure that the G20 leadership reflects on it and takes inspiration from it, and she reciprocated it with a promise of internationalisation of the inspiration and said that she looks forward to working with W20 India team with the Ministry of Women and Child Development.

Ms. Dharitri Patnaik, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist, and Chief Coordinator of W20, delivered a vote of thanks and elaborated on the outreach programs organised by W20 across India in the past 7 months.


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