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Addressing the Global Pushback Against Women’s Empowerment: The Urgent Need for Continued Action

“The increasing global pushback against the rights of women and girls and the declining security and safety for women and girls continue to be alarming,” said Nagaraj Naidu Kakanur, Joint Secretary (G20), Union Ministry of External Affairs, ahead of a G20 meeting.
Women’s empowerment has been a pressing issue for many years now. During a pre-event conference leading up to the G20 third Development Working Group meeting in Goa, Kakanur, highlighted the declining security and safety of women as a major issue. He emphasised that in 2023, if someone claims that achieving gender equality will take another 286 years, it signifies a collective failure to address this issue.

Need for a Prompt Action

Despite the progress made towards women’s empowerment in recent years, there has been an alarming global pushback against women’s rights. This pushback takes various forms, including legislative restrictions, cultural norms, and gender-based violence.
Empowering women socially and politically is key in providing them with a “voice, choice and agency,” according to Nagaraj Naidu Kakanur, Joint Secretary (G20) at the Union Ministry of External Affairs. Kakanur highlighted that in today’s world, where technology plays a major role, the ability to design, manufacture, operate and use technology and science-based solutions will be critical for young people’s advancement.
In addition, Kakanur emphasised that investing in the health, education, and empowerment of girls and women is crucial to achieving the promise of girls’ education and women’s empowerment agenda in the 21st century. He stressed that the time to act and invest in women and girls is now and called for a women-led development approach that ensures their full, equal, effective, and meaningful participation in decision-making processes to effectively address global challenges inclusively.

India’s Recent Contribution towards Women Empowerment

India has made a substantial donation of $500,000 (₹4.09 crore) to the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, commonly known as UN Women. The contribution was presented by Ruchira Kamboj, the Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations, towards the core voluntary budget of UN Women. Sima Sami Bahous, the Under Secretary General and Executive Director of UN Women, accepted the donation.
India, as a founding member of the Executive Board of UN Women, is proud to serve as a current member, according to an official press release. The Indian government is committed to gender equality and the empowerment of women, as emphasised in the mandate of UN Women. Moreover, women-led development is one of the priorities of India’s G20 presidency.
In a tweet, Kamboj highlighted India’s development model that is led by women and focuses on entrepreneurship and STEM education. She also urged UN Women to increase its use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and new technologies to empower women. The press release further stated that India will continue to support UN Women in fulfilling its mandate and activities.
India’s generous donation demonstrates its strong commitment to the global cause of gender equality and women’s empowerment, as well as its support for the efforts of UN Women. The funds will be utilized to promote gender equality and empower women globally.
India has made significant progress towards women’s empowerment in recent years, particularly in terms of education and employment. According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2021, India has closed 97.9% of its gender gap in primary education and 95.3% of its gender gap in health and survival. However, India still lags behind in terms of political empowerment, where it has closed only 27.6% of its gender gap.
India’s contribution towards women’s empowerment is not limited to financial donations. The Indian government has implemented various policies and programs aimed at empowering women, such as the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao (Save the Girl Child, Educate the Girl Child) program, which aims to improve the welfare of girls and women in India.

The Way Forward

Women’s empowerment is essential to achieving gender equality and ensuring that women have equal opportunities to succeed in all areas of life. The global pushback against women’s rights is a reminder that there is still much work to be done to achieve this goal
The international community must continue to work towards empowering women, ensuring that they have access to education, healthcare, employment opportunities, and political participation. Countries must take a holistic approach to women’s empowerment and address the underlying societal norms and cultural attitudes that perpetuate gender inequality.
In addition to financial contributions, governments and organisations must also collaborate to implement policies and programs that promote women’s empowerment. This can include initiatives such as gender-sensitive budgeting, which ensures that public funds are allocated towards programs and policies that benefit women.
Furthermore, men must also be involved in the efforts towards women’s empowerment. Men have a crucial role to play in challenging and changing societal norms and attitudes that perpetuate gender inequality. Men can act as allies in the fight for women’s empowerment, supporting and advocating for women’s rights and equality.
Empowering women is not only a matter of social justice but also has significant economic benefits. Women’s empowerment can lead to economic growth, poverty reduction, and improved health and education outcomes for entire communities. It is essential to achieving gender equality, which is a fundamental human right.