“Because it’s 2018”: Feminist leaders urge G7 to invest in a feminist future

Over 60 feminist leaders–from Canada, G7 countries and around the world–met in Ottawa for the first-ever feminist summit on the sidelines of the G7, hosted by Canada this year. During the two days together, the diverse group met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister’s G7 Gender Equality Advisory Council, Canada’s Minister for the Status of Women, Minister of International Development and Canada’s G7 Sherpa.

In their meetings, the group called for G7 countries to implement existing commitments on women’s rights, and to commit to bold and ambitious new global and domestic investments in feminist movements and organizing–both within G7 countries and globally.

In their final communiqué, they noted: “Two G7 leaders have publicly declared themselves feminists, identifying gender equality as a priority for their foreign and domestic policies. We take this opportunity to call on all G7 leaders to adopt progressive approaches, incorporating feminist principles on all G7 issues and beyond.”

Speaking to the Prime Minister, the W7 urged Canada to push its G7 partners to ensure that a feminist analysis is applied to political, economic, social, ecological and cultural issues—and they declared that “all issues are feminist issues”. Equally important, the group called for the world’s most powerful countries to directly engage with those impacted by their decision-making processes, and recognize the multiple and intersecting aspects of identity that play out in women’s lives and experiences—including class, sexual orientation and race. These layers of identity compound and exacerbate oppression and marginalization in G7 countries and around the world.

“Feminists have largely been absent from G7-related decision-making spaces. If the G7 is to truly advance gender equality, then feminist leaders must be heard and feminist approaches must be adopted.”

The W7 called for a more just and equitable economy, one that moves away from exploitation and extractivism. Too many women around the world are facing precarious, dangerous and exploitative work situations, and the current economic model is fueling conflict and violence against women.

“The greatest threats my community in Guatemala faces today are caused by extractive industries from G7 countries; and most of them are actually Canadian,” said Irma Alicia Velasquez Nimatuj, an Indigenous Guatemalan journalist and anthropologist, in speaking to Prime Minister Trudeau.

The W7 participants called upon G7 leaders to invest in decent work and livelihoods, universal public services, social protection based on needs, and the recognition, reduction and redistribution of unpaid care work, adopting a comprehensive approach to sexual and reproductive health and rights, among other measures.

“Decisions made by the G7 have global impact. As feminists, we experience the very real ways decisions related to the economy, foreign policy and beyond directly affect our daily lives. Bringing a feminist lens to the G7 has the potential to dramatically shift how decisions are made – and who wins and loses.”

The W7 is calling upon the G7 countries to be accountable to those most affected by their policies and actions, noting that states are falling behind in existing human rights obligations, including the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women, the UN Declaration on the RIghts of Indigenous Peoples, among others.

“G7 countries should move away from broad commitments towards clear, accountable measures,” said Shalani Konanur, Executive Director at the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario.

The W7–which was organized by a coalition of feminist organizations working domestically and globally: Oxfam Canada, Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights, the Canadian Women’s Foundation, Canada Without Poverty, Nobel Women’s Initiative, The MATCH International Women’s Fund and Inter Pares–will be releasing a full set of recommendations next month. These recommendations will address women’s economic empowerment, peace and security, sexual and reproductive health and rights, climate change, feminist movement building, violence against women and intersectional feminism.

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