Women’s rights: Emmanuel Macron’s “great global cause” must become a reality at the G7

by 23rd Aug 2019
A young woman in Fada village, Niger A young woman in Fada village, Niger

Published on behalf of the Women 7 movement:

We are entering the final stretch before the G7 summit, which will open on 24 August in Biarritz. In September 2018, before the UN, the President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron announced a 2019 G7 with a renewed format, focused on the Sahel region and on the fight against inequalities, and he called for women’s rights to become a “great global cause”. Only 10 days away from the summit, what has been done so far is not enough.

As the host of this G7, France not only needs to set an example on women’s rights at national level, but it must also bring the other G7 leaders to collectively commit to achieve gender equality. It is time that the “feminist diplomacy” promoted by France proves itself, including within this G7.

Everywhere in the world, women and girls are standing up against gender-based discrimination and inequalities, from #MeToo to the defence of the right to abortion in Argentina and in the United States, from the fight against domestic violence in France to equal inheritance in Tunisia: it is time for governments to respond to these calls. The G7 countries cannot stand against History.

The G7 countries have the means, through their foreign policy, through their official development assistance and through their domestic policies, to boost real change for gender equality. France has rightly placed these issues high on its G7 agenda and shows its ambition to bring forward a new feminist diplomacy, like Canada in 2018. Now France has to ensure that concrete political and financial commitments are taken by the G7 leaders.

The Women 7 (W7), which brings together around a hundred organisations and associations that are committed to gender equality all over the world, expects this G7 to tackle the root causes of inequalities and to adopt truly feminist and transformative policies. Yet, only 10 days away from the summit, the expected commitments look more like soft adjustments, rather than signs of a truly feminist G7.

The French Presidency made the choice to avoid the “sensitive” issues and by doing so dismissed some key ones that are central to fight gender inequalities, such as sexual and reproductive health and rights, walking past issues that are crucial for women all over the world. And even if the announcements made at the ministerial meetings have referred to gender inequalities, marking a sign of progress, they have not been backed up by financial commitments which live up to expectations.

Civil society inclusion within the G7 process and at the Summit in Biarritz remains unsatisfactory. As of today, no feminist association will be sitting at the negotiation table with the G7 leaders. G7 countries, currently represented by six men and only one woman, will be taking decisions on issues such as women’s economic empowerment, girls’ education and health, without including the ones that are first affected.

Great challenges, either diplomatic, ecological or economic, cannot be tackled without women’s and girls’ empowerment, and without their effective participation to decision-making processes. It is necessary to go farther.

Only a comprehensive feminist approach can effectively allow to fight against unequal gender power relations, for which the whole of society pays the price.

The W7 publishes today, 23 August, an Alternative Gender Declaration, which offers a list of the minimum commitments and the respective criteria, which must be included in the final G7 gender declaration. There is still time for game-changing actions, if the right commitments are taken and if financial means are provided.

The first priority concerns governance. It is fundamental to effectively ensure women’s and girls’ participation, including feminist activists’ participation, in the elaboration of public policies and in decision-making processes. Without taking into account feminist recommendations and analyses, domestic and foreign public policies will keep overlooking gender inequalities and will keep failing.

The second priority is financial. Current events in France are a reminder: the fight for gender equality, “great national cause”, is still under-funded and feminist associations are too often left to themselves. It is essential to scale up public funding, with a significant increase of budgets for gender equality policies and for feminist associations, at national level as well as in foreign policies.

The W7 feminist associations count on G7 leaders to take strong measures and not to settle for weak so-called feminist policies, especially on the eve of a 2020 G7 under the United States’ Presidency and a G20 led by Saudi Arabia. In Biarritz, we will keep count of the commitments taken for women’s and girls’ rights. We will count the concrete actions and especially, we count on making our voices heard.

By announcing his intention to “make women’s rights a great global cause”, Emmanuel Macron placed France as a leader on this issue and, therefore, has a historic responsibility: Biarritz must not be a new missed opportunity, but a moment of strong feminist mobilisation for the G7 countries.

Authors, on behalf of the Women 7 movement:

Cécile Duflot, Oxfam France, Director General

  • Cécile Duflot is the Director General of Oxfam France, NGO for citizen mobilisation which fights against poverty and inequalities. Geographer by training, and graduated at the ESSEC, she has worked as Secretary General of the French Greens (les Verts), as French Minister of Territorial Equality and Housing, and then as an MP. With Oxfam, she continues her fights for social, fiscal and environmental justice.

Aurélie Gal-Régniez, Equipop, Director

  • Aurélie Gal-Régniez has worked for the last 15 years within the NGO Equipop to promote women’s health all over the world, their rights and their empowerment, by combining political advocacy, social mobilisation and pilot interventions. She teaches at the Université Paris-Descartes and she collaborated with different research institutes.

Rana Hamra, Humanity Diaspo, President

  • Rana HAMRA is a jurist specialised on asylum and refugees’ rights. She has worked for the French asylum directorate of the French immigration office, and for the European Union agency EASO. She founded in 2018 the humanitarian and feminist NGO Humanity Diaspo and TechForGood, based in the startup incubator Station F, in Paris.

Philippe Lévêque, CARE France, Executive Director

  • Since May 2000, Philippe Lévêque is Executive Director of CARE France, the French member of CARE International. Focused on fighting underlying causes of poverty, CARE the key role of women as development actors and supports the respect of their rights through advocacy actions. Philippe Lévêque has also been appointed on the CARE International Board of Directors.

Céline Mas, ONU Femmes France, President

  • Céline Mas is the President of the National Committee for UN Women in France since 2018. Specialised on public policy forecasting and evaluation, she has held talks at ESSEC, Celsa and has regularly given interviews in the media. Being convinced that literature makes our societies progress, she is the founder of the project Love for Livres, to foster access to culture for the greatest possible number of people.

Michelle Perrot, Plan International France, Advocacy and Youth Engagement Director

  • Graduated in international relations and political science, Michelle Perrot worked on the field several years with UNICEF, particularly on children’s rights and on gender equality. For the last 15 years, she has worked within the NGO Plan International France and is currently director of the advocacy and youth engagement department.

Véronique Séhier, Planning Familial, Co-President

  • Véronique Séhier is co-president of Planning Familial, feminist movement and movement for non-formal education that works for gender equality, for universal access to health and sexual and reproductive health and rights. It works against sexual and gender-based violence and against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. She is a member of the French Economic, Social and Environmental Council.