The crises of the past two years have not been gender blind. Across nearly every metric, women and girls have fared worse from the COVID-19 pandemic, and disproportionately felt the impact of other crises like climate change and conflict.
Perhaps no demographic is more vulnerable to the impacts of the social and economic dislocation of the last two years than adolescent girls and young women.
Critical areas for adolescent girls’ development and well-being — access to quality education, nutritious food, sexual and reproductive health care, economic opportunities, and reduction in the burden of care — have been severely impacted by these crises.
What’s the Solution?
In the 2021 Carbis Bay G7 Communique, leaders said: “The advancement of gender equity and equality are a central pillar of our plans and policies to build back better.” Now is the time to take bold and innovative action to make this sentiment a reality.
To break the cycle of extreme poverty, we must address these critical areas of development and well-being with a gendered lens.
Targeted investments in adolescent girls at their time of greatest vulnerability and greatest potential is both morally right and an economically smart way to maximize impact.
What Can the G7 Do?
As the wealthiest economies in the world, the G7 have an economic, social, and moral responsibility to invest in human rights-based and affirming solutions for the most vulnerable at home and internationally.
G7 leaders should commit to a package this year to addressing the immediate needs of vulnerable women and girls around the world, and agree a multi-year investment plan that will reach 50 million adolescent girls, with measurable milestones and objectives, including:
Address the Global Childcare Crisis
The global recovery cannot be built on the back of women’s unpaid care work. The burden of unpaid care has put a stranglehold on women’s labour force participation, with more than 600 million women denied entry due to lack of support and adequate childcare options.
Through strategic investment in human infrastructure and a revaluing of the care economy, more than 300 million jobs could be created by 2030 — boosting global gross domestic product (GDP) by USD $4 trillion.
G7 governments must make new commitments to address the global childcare crisis through three critical avenues: Invest in the World Bank’s Childcare Incentive Fund to reach their $120 capitalization, and increase funding for the testing and scaling up of national care initiatives in lower middle-income countries (LMICs), and strengthening of data collection and analysis on the care economy, while also increasing and improving the efficacy of public investment into child care in both G7 and partner countries.
Bolster Support for Education
Last year, the G7 stated that: “12 years of safe and quality education for all children, and specifically girls, is one of the most cost-effective and impactful social and economic investments governments and donors can make.”
Today, in 2022, there are now 222 million school-aged children living in crisis, a devastating increase upwards, from 75 million children living in crises in 2016. It’s time to call on the G7 to fulfil their promise by supporting the establishment of gender-responsive, crisis-resilient education systems with and for all children.
Global Citizen is calling on G7 members to contribute to the next Education Cannot Wait strategic plan to protect access to quality education for children in conflict-affected areas and to help mobilize a total of $1.5 billion.
Take Action on Sexual & Reproductive Health and Rights
According to UNFPA, in 2020 there were 1.4 million more unintended pregnancies in low- and middle-income countries, due to limited access to family planning services as a result of the pandemic.
Pregnancy and motherhood during adolescence can limit a girl’s ability to receive education, curtail future higher-paying employment opportunities, and put her and her child’s health at risk from complications. Investments in sexual and reproductive health care services and support remain one of the most effective interventions for improving an adolescent girl’s health and well-being.
G7 leaders must make new and additional funding commitments to support maternal and child health, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and reaffirm the bodily autonomy and rights of women and girls everywhere, among other things, through renewed commitments to UNPFA, including fulfilling the $232 million funding gap for the UNFPA Supplies Partnership.
History has shown us the power of individuals speaking out to bring about change. Every voice counts, every message, every name, and every action. The more there are of us, the louder our call. Join a community of millions of Global Citizens and use your power today. Head to our G7 Summit page and see how many actions you can take.
You can also head over to the Global Citizen app and take our G7 Summit 101 Challenge, to learn more about the G7 and what they can do to tackle the world’s biggest challenges, and urge them to take action to end extreme poverty and its systemic causes NOW.