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Women at the top of the G20 agenda?

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As a former Marxist guerilla and Brazil’s first female elected President Dilma Rouseff takes her seat at the G20 summit this week, the Guardian takes note of this historic achievement.

Reading a little further reveals that Ms Rouseff is just one of the record-breaking four female heads of states to join the current ranks of this globally powerful elite in South Korea. Sitting alongside her will be Argentina’s Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, German chancellor Angela Merkel, Australia’s prime minister Julia Gillard and 16 other miscellaneous men.

If you are wondering if you read that correctly, yes it does seem that the advancement of women is in such dire straits that having just a 20 per cent stake in representation at these global summits is now considered a historic achievement. Excuse me if I don’t stop reading my copy of ‘The Equality Illusion’ just yet….

Gross indifferences in representation aside, the article goes on to ask if this unprecedented number of women will make a difference to the agenda, surely set to be dominated by attempts to ensure an economic recovery? After all, in a victory speech just last month, Rouseff vowed to push women’s rights onto the national and international agenda, saying:

“I would like for fathers and mothers to look into their daughters’ eyes today and tell them: ‘Yes, women can.'”

South Korean MP Shin Nakyun has powerfully argued that women are one of the world’s most under-utilised resources, saying that: “women are the most powerful drivers of economic growth.”

On the eve of the summit, new head of UN Women Michelle Bachelet – herself a former President of Chile – claimed that 70 per cent of the world’s poorest citizens were female, while on a global level women’s salaries were an average of 17 per cent lower than men’s.

With statistics like these on the table, surely any plan for economic recovery cannot afford to ignore the contribution of women?

Read the full article at The Guardian.

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