Speech by President von der Leyen at the Rome W20 Summit

Dear delegates to the Women 20 Summit,

Thank you for your invitation and for your work, which is now more important than ever. At the next G20 Summit in Rome, I could be the only woman in the group. There could be no better reminder of how long the road towards gender equality still is.

This is the very reason why we need your expertise. We need Women 20 to help bring the voice of women to the table of decision-makers. We need the best policy ideas so that more and more women, all around the world, can get the right opportunities – and eventually reach the leadership positions that they deserve.

There are three policies that I would like to mention today.

First, on education. You all know that the pandemic is leading to the worst education crisis in modern history. Around 11 million girls might be forced out of school. This would be a massive setback on the path towards equality. So the question is: can we avoid this, and how?

Last month, at the G7, I announced that the European Commission will increase by one third our contribution to the Global Partnership for Education. We will reach 100 million euros per year, guaranteed for seven years in a row, to help achieve the goal of 40 million more girls in schools by 2026. And I would like the G20 Summit to also make a clear commitment to education for all girls in the world.

Second, on women employment. Too many of us have been told that we had to choose between being a mother and having a career. As a mother of seven and as President of the European Commission, I beg to differ. But I know the obstacles that women face. So we must strive to create the right conditions for all women to enjoy equal access to the jobs market. In the European Union, we have just agreed to cut the gender employment gap by 50 per cent by 2030. And I will bring this commitment to the leaders’ table at the G20 in October. But to achieve this goal, women need the right support. We need parental payments and parental leave for mothers and fathers. We need to offer more and better childcare. We must strengthen elderly care. These policies require a cultural shift, but also adequate resources. In Europe, we are financing some of these reforms through our recovery plan NextGenerationEU and our new budget. Now it is time to bring this conversation to the G20.

And this is my third point. Let us talk about how to finance childcare, parental leaves, education and training. Because this is the investment we need for a solid and sustainable recovery.

So I look forward to seeing your recommendations ahead of the G20 summit. With your help, we can put equality between women and men at the core of the G20 agenda. So that women and men are equally represented – in the workforce, in family life. And yes, in G20 meetings too.

Thank you, and let me wish you all the best for these three days of work.

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