The conclusions and results of the HLPC will converge in a final document addressed to the Italian leadership of the G20 Presidency, and will focus on 3 themes: women's rights, global health, and sustainable development.
July 1st, 2021
The Covid-19 pandemic, like all pandemics, had an impact on gender related issues and exacerbated pre-existing vulnerabilities and discriminations, with negative consequences for women and girls’ health and rights, especially with regard to sexual and reproductive rights. Covid-19 also highlighted the need to develop approaches that take into account the interdependence between different elements (such as the One Health approach in medicine, that considers human, animal and environmental health as a whole), the importance of gender medicine, and the interdependence between countries. The issue of suspending vaccine patents to deal with the pandemic is linked precisely to the fact that the virus has no borders. The pandemic has placed at the centre of international interest the right to health but also the importance of achieving gender equality, as stated in the 2030 Agenda.
To reflect on this, the Informal Group of Parliamentarians “Global Health Women’s Rights” in collaboration with EPF (European Parliamentary Forum on Sexual and Reproductive Rights), the GPA (Global Parliamentary Alliance) and AIDOS (Italian Association of Women for Development), within the context of the Italian G20 Presidency, organised the High Level Parliamentary Consultation (HLPC) “Placing Gender back at the centre of Global Health and Development Policies” to bring together parliamentarians from across the world, including the G20 countries, to jointly develop recommendations on how women and girls can be at the centre of future recovery plans. Among the guests from the informal group were Lia Quartapelle, Chiara Gribaudo, Maria Edera Spadoni, Valeria Valente and Valeria Fedeli.
The Consultation was sponsored by the Presidency of the G20, the Senate of the Italian Republic and the Chamber of Deputies; it was attended by UNFPA and Family Planning 2030. The event took place online in two webinars, on 22 and 25 June.
The conclusions and results of the HLPC will converge in a final document addressed to the Italian leadership of the G20 Presidency, and will focus on 3 themes: women’s rights, as the pandemic risks rolling back decades of progress on gender equality; global health, which the pandemic has brought to the fore as a common good and cannot fail to include the sexual and reproductive health of women and girls; sustainable development, which the Covid-19 emergency has undermined and which needs secure and sustainable funding.
The meeting highlighted the importance of focusing on gender equality promotion everywhere and of putting women and girls at the centre of policies for their transformative role. This will have to be done starting from health. Therefore, it will be necessary to guarantee and promote universal access to sexual and reproductive health services, to support gender medicine, to define a real commitment to combat all forms of gender-based violence including harmful practices. Finally, it is essential to take into account these issues in all contexts, including migration and humanitarian ones.
The rights of women and girls have been reconsidered, starting from the places where they live; some contexts can in fact be difficult and violent. Therefore, there was a call to rethink cities as common goods. We need urban policies that consider the needs of women and girls and are based on sustainability and inclusiveness for all.
It is also fundamental to counter gender stereotypes everywhere, to launch programmes for the education of girls and young women from primary school to university, paying attention to their participation in STEM disciplines as well as in digitalisation processes, not only as users but as agents of change. Hence, the fundamental role of science and the importance of its being participatory and not neutral.
Another commitment that emerged from the Consultation is to guarantee financial resources to promote gender equality as a main objective of programmes and projects in all countries and through public development aid funds. Recent cuts by some countries in this area are of great concern because of the impact they will have on the lives of women and girls.
The group also included a reflection on economic empowerment, stressing the need to value care work as a fundamental component of social reproduction. Governments should adopt public policies that relieve women of the uneven and unfair distribution of the burden of care work and promote the economic empowerment of women and girls, as they are among the most affected by the pandemic.
The importance of women’s participation in decision making processes was a key topic, as it is crucial for forward-looking policies.