‘Empowerment and Progression of Women’s Economic Representation’ (EMPOWER)

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman urged G20 leaders on Thursday to take firm measures and “effective and coordinated” action to combat the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. (G20 Saudi Arabia)

(RAHNUMA) Saudi Arabia’s 2020 G20 Presidency has placed its goal of empowering people at the forefront of their Presidency by aiming to develop a policy framework conducive to creating economic opportunities for all.

The chair of the 2020 G20 is none other than the reformist leader, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, who has transformed the lives of Saudi women, and now aims to unleash access to opportunities for all women in the world to drive sustainable and inclusive growth.

Only recently, King Salman praised the exceptional role played by women during the coronavirus pandemic and expressed that Saudi Arabia’s Presidency of the G20 has dedicated special attention to discussing policies related to women across different ministerial and working group meetings.

Economists around the world have time and again noted that empowering women and increasing the percentage share of women in the workforce can significantly bolster the GDP growth rate. Keeping this in mind, the Saudi government has made significant leaps in improving women’s participation and access to opportunities, as evidenced by the World Bank’s latest report on ‘Women, Business and the Law 2020’.

By organizing the inception meeting of the Private Sector Alliance for the Empowerment and Progression of Women’s Economic Representation (EMPOWER) under their G20 Presidency, Saudi Arabia is certainly aiming to make steadfast progress in the momentum built under previous G20 presidencies and make concrete progress to empower women and girls.

The EMPOWER Group was launched at the G20 Osaka Summit in 2019 and aimed to advocate for the advancement of women in the private sector. But, it was only in April 2020, during the Saudi Presidency, that the alliance began to take shape. The members of the alliance met for the first time, via teleconferencing in April this year and agreed to develop an action plan to pave the way for improving representation on women in the private sector.

Mrs. Rania Nashar, the chair of the B20 Women in Business Action Council and the CEO of Samba Financial group has advocated for female empowerment as a member of the EMPOWER alliance and stated that: ‘We work with private and public sector representatives and CEOs to present strategies and policies that give women more leadership positions’. Addressing persistent social and economic inequalities between men and women is one main element of the Saudi Presidency’s aim of empowering people under the theme “Realizing Opportunities of the 21st Century for All”.

The alliance is currently establishing a data stock take report to identify the current state of women in leadership position in the private sector, as well as policy practices to support gender equality for women in leadership positions. The EMPOWER group is slated to present their findings and recommendation before the G20 Leaders’ Summit in November 2020.

A statement by the Private Sector Representatives of the EMPOWER Alliance released on October 24, 2020, puts forth the policy approaches they recommend G20 Leaders consider selecting from, in combination with private initiatives.

These include promoting increased representation of women on company boards and senior management, annually monitoring the progress of women’s representation in leadership roles; encouraging the disclosure of gender representation in boards and senior management; introducing diversity and non-discriminatory campaigns and policies; reducing the legal, regulatory, and policy barriers that prohibit women from fully and freely participating in the economy at all levels and across sectors; and advancing the meaningful participation of women in decision-making processes and in the development of policies and plans, especially in the design and implementation of the recovery of the COVID-19 crisis.

The EMPOWER Alliance is certainly a great stride in ensuring ‘Opportunities of the 21st Century for All’ as envisioned by Saudi Arabia’s G20 presidency.

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