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by Marie Beuve-Mery, Vincent Muzelle; HEC Paris

With Chiara Corazza (CEO, WF), Marlène Schiappa (French Minister of Women’s Rights), Gabriela Ramos (Chief of Stass and Sherpa to G20, OECD)

Gabriela Ramos, Chief of staff and Sherpa to the G20 at the OECD, Carmen Lopez Portillo, Dean of Universidad el Claustro de Sor Juana and Ana Maria Salazar, host of this first edition of the Women’s Forum Americas prepare the ground by reciting Sor Juana’s infamous poem “You foolish men”.  It feels like no place was more suited to host the Forum than this University, in honour of Sor Juana, considered to be the first feminist.

‘Rewriting the narrative of history and herstory together’ begins with a call to the G20 with Gabriela Ramos. She brings us back to 2013. At the time productivity is low, the recovery is low and new sources of growth must be found. The obvious solution resides in bringing more women to the business sector, “it was a no brainer”. For this to stick, the OECD is asked to monitor the results closely and set a concrete target: reduce by 20% the gap between men and women in the workforce by 2025, no matter where the country currently stands. If successful, this would result in adding 100M women to the labour force. 

In 2018, the last monitoring exercise done by the OECD presented encouraging outcomes, the champions are Japan and South Korea with significant progress, others such as Mexico are still below target, but all countries have advanced in the gender agenda. A parallel on-going battle is the issue of wage gaps for equal jobs. Within the OECD countries, “probably the most advanced countries in the world”, women are paid 14% less in average than men. In India this number rises to 35%. Iceland was the first country to legislate in favour of eliminating any wage gap. 

For Gabriela, change comes through legislation and incentives. “This is about men and about women”. Family friendly policies, dual parenting programs, shared jobs are some of the solutions to rewriting the narrative. In the United Kingdom, diplomat fathers having taken their parental leave, outweigh their colleagues for a promotion. 

In addition to these measures, the gender gap must be treated from the source. Stereotyping can be eliminated through gender neutral textbooks or programs inciting girls to participate in gender biased careers. 

Gabriela closes with a warning, “we have moved forward and when it comes from the leaders people listen. But there is a push back on gender issues, we can’t talk about reproductive rights anymore and this moves us back ages”.

Marlène Schiappa, Minister of State of Gender Equality and Fight Against Discrimination from the French Government, takes the stage and opens her call to the G7. “An impact is when two things collide. In a post “Me Too” era, what happens when there is an impact between feminists and the G7?” 

She highlights how France is currently taking the lead on inclusion, Emmanuel Macron having made it a national cause of his mandate. However, no country can achieve gender equality alone, which is why President Macron has called the United Nations to make gender equality a global cause.

Three priorities for gender equality have been identified:

  • Fighting sexual and gender-based violence (forced marriage, sexual mutilations);
  • Supporting women’s education (two thirds of the world’s illiterates are women);
  • Supporting women economic empowerment, especially in Africa. 

It’s a Man’s Man’s world, but it is time for women to become leaders. When a woman succeeds she does it for every girl in the world.  Marlène Schiappa announced she is going to advocate for all inclusion related quotas to be brought to 50% (vs 20%, 30% today) at the G7 Biarritz August 2019. “One woman is not enough. One woman does not stand for every woman. 50% is already a compromise because we comprise 52% of humanity!” By bringing these topics on the floor of the G7, inclusion will become de facto a global cause and not just a French national one.

 This article is part of a series on #WFAmericas. Watch the full session on YouTube.