G7 – Women’s rights: France has not met all expectations

G7 – Women’s rights: France has not met all expectations

This G7 was the opportunity for the French President Emmanuel Macron to translate his commitment to make gender equality a great global cause into action. Multiple financial commitments were taken, but the Women 7 (W7) feminist associations believe that French Presidency has not met all expectations. France failed to embody a feminist diplomacy within this G7 and several key gender equality issues did not make it into the G7 leaders’ agenda.

A French feminist diplomacy that is still not bold enough

By promoting a feminist diplomacy, the French President Emmanuel Macron had a historic responsibility to achieve concrete political and financial commitments on women’s and girls’ rights at this G7, building on the Canadian G7.

The Women 7 therefore expected that President Macron would reaffirm France’s position on these issues loud and clear, particularly during the joint press conference with US President Donald Trump, whose administration has in the past days declared women’s rights to be a “niche” matter. The Women 7 reminds that on the contrary, women’s rights to exercise control over their own bodies, to participate in decision-making processes, are extremely political subjects and must be at the heart of the fight against inequalities. Within a complex multilateral context, the French President Emmanuel Macron took the decision to prioritise consensus.

More broadly, all countries must systematically adopt a feminist lens across all issues. It is impossible to discuss economic or political issues without taking into account the rights of half of the world population. G7 leaders must stop designing and implementing domestic and international policies and initiatives without including women and girls.

Promising outcomes on women’s and girls’ rights, yet still insufficient

G7 countries and some of the countries invited to the summit have commited to adopt a new law or a new public policy on women’s rights at national level, based on the report developed by the Gender Equality Advisory Council. These future legislative measures are essential to have a positive and sustainable impact on women’s and girls’ lives, but they are not enough. The Women 7 emphasises that each adopted law or public policy must be accompanied by adequate funding, a timeline for its implementation, and a meaningful consultation of feminist associations.

France also committed to two other initiatives: supporting the Nadia Murad’s and Denis Mukwege’s fund for survivors of sexual violence with up to 6,2 million EUR and launching an initiative to promote women’s entrepreneurship in Africa. The W7 welcomes the adoption of these two key initiatives, which must go together with the reinforcement of other rights to ensure that a feminist approach is truly adopted. In order to be entrepreneurs, women must first have access to health and education, issues which have been sidelined at this G7.

Several forgotten issues in the negotiations

The W7 considers that the French presidency could have done better: gender equality has been included on the G7 agenda but several issues have been put aside or have not been addressed in G7 leaders’ discussions.

Several commitments made by G7 countries on the Sahel region do not prioritise the urgency to improve access to basic services for women and girls, such as health, including sexual and reproductive health and rights, and education.

The lack of ambitious funding for women’s and girls’ rights in G7 countries’ domestic policies is regrettable. Whereas not a single country has yet achieved gender equality, G7 countries must set an example. In France, the budget of the Secretariat on gender equality is one of the government’s smallest budgets, 1000 times smaller than the budget of the French Ministry of the armies. It is time to match the declared priorities with funding.

The French government has announced its will to implement a feminist diplomacy. As of now, President Emmanuel Macron has not embodied yet his feminist ambition. He invited to take stock in a few months of whether G7 countries have walked the talk. Civil society organisations must play a key role in these future accountability mechanisms. We call on the French government to embrace a truly feminist agenda, especially considering that in 2020 France will host the Generation Equality Forum, a crucial moment for women’s and girls’ rights.

About the W7

The W7 (Women 7) brings together feminist organisations from G7 countries and around the world. Its main mission is to ensure that G7 countries make both financial and political commitments, in 2019 and beyond, that will have a tangible and lasting impact on the lives of women and girls around the world. For more information: www.feministscount.org/en

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