G7 leaders commit to tackle gender discrimination but fail to call out adolescent girls

21 June 2024

G7 leaders have committed to address the rollback on rights including gender inequality, climate change, hunger and conflicts, however adolescent girls and G7 Leaders’ involvement in the Summit of the Future are omitted despite being crucial to much needed progress.

We welcome G7 Leaders’ commitment to address some of the world’s most pressing issues including gender inequality, climate change, access to sexual, reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and education, conflicts, and hunger crisis. However, we note the lack of commitment to adolescent girls, the omission of last year’s explicit commitment to ensuring access to safe abortion, and the lack of concrete steps, sufficient investments, and accountability mechanisms in translating commitments into action.  

Gender equality, disability inclusion and rollback on rights 

We welcome G7 Leaders’ commitment to implement gender transformative and multi-sectoral approach to foreign policy, humanitarian aid and development cooperation. This is crucial in tackling the root causes of the barriers faced by girls from fully enjoying their rights. Plan International implements the same approach in all its work which challenges discriminatory gender norms and unequal power relations.  

We commend G7 for the creation of the first Disability Inclusion Ministers Conference. This is a necessary step towards equality and social inclusion, and achieving the goal of leaving no one behind. We also welcome commitments to full economic empowerment of all girls and women, and elimination of sexual and gender-based violence including in humanitarian contexts. In line with this, we are pleased with the commitment to advance the Women, Peace, and Security agenda, and the empowerment and full and equal participation of girls and women, in all their diversity with the USD 20 billion investment to boost women’s empowerment and pledge to collectively increase G7 ODA for gender equality, particularly in Africa. Plan International also affirms the strengthened work of the Gender Equality Advisory Council (GEAC) and the updated G7 Dashboard on Gender Gaps but calls for increased participation of civil society and youth-led groups, for effective implementation of recommendations.  

Further, we call on G7 to create actions specific to adolescent girls. We expressed this urgency in a letter to G7 in April 2024. Adolescent girls are at risk of being left behind. They continue to be invisible in global policymaking and development agendas. The Summit of the Future can be an opportunity to do this. We believe that G7 can be an influential force in the Summit to accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, shape the post-2030 development framework, and champion adolescent girls’ agenda as reflected in Plan International’s Girls’ Pact for the Future

We share the same concern over the roll back of the rights of girls, women, and LGBTQIA+ people around the world. We therefore look forward to the implementation of its commitment to work with global partners to advance gender equality in multilateral forums, and call on G7 Leaders to be more pro-active in protecting the progress made in global, regional and domestic policies on gender equality and human rights against anti rights actors. In line with this, the commitment to parenthood protection should be implemented consistent with human rights and gender equality principles that recognise girls’ and women’s bodily autonomy, diverse family structures, and children’s best interests and evolving capacities.   

Universal health coverage and SRHR 

We are pleased to see the commitment to further promote comprehensive SRHR for all and to advance maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health, especially for the most vulnerable. However, we regret the lack of explicit language on last year’s commitment to ensuring access to safe and legal abortion and post abortion care.  Abortion is a human right and lifesaving healthcare, and provision of services for safe abortion should be available and accessible to all girls and women. We therefore call on G7 to retain this as part of its current commitment on comprehensive SRHR.

In addition, we call on G7 leaders to step up efforts to ensure SRHR are prioritised and funded in humanitarian settings. We also welcome the commitment to achieving universal health coverage (UHC) and promoting equitable access to quality health services as well as the commitment to invest in resilient health services, primary healthcare service delivery and a skilled health workforce. In this regard, we call on G7 leaders to give greater priority to ensuring adolescent health and wellbeing in line with commitments made at the Global Forum for Adolescents. We encourage governments to invest in and ensure age and gender-responsive health services that meet the needs of adolescent girls, free from violence, discrimination, coercion or stigma and eliminate barriers to access including third party consent.  

Education and unpaid care work 

We affirm G7 Leaders’ continued support to quality education for all girls and recognising it as the best predictor for future levels of equality by promoting access to safe, inclusive, and equitable quality education for all. We also welcome its commitment to enhance partnership with African countries on girls’ education, including the redoubling of efforts to meet the G7 Girls Education targets by 2026. Early this year, Plan International played an active role in the AU Summit calling for gender responsive education systems.

G7, however, should complement these efforts through prioritising, protecting, and increasing education financing, both Official Development Assistance and domestic budgets, and ensuring that global initiatives are fully funded. Further, we call on G7 Leaders to explicitly recognise the return on investment for early childhood education, both in terms of economic and social benefit, and as an entry point for advancing gender equality.  

We also welcome G7 Leaders’ commitment to address unpaid care burdens and to increase provision of childcare, recognising the positive impacts on economic independence and empowerment of women. However, we call for G7 leaders to specifically recognise and address the impact of unpaid care work on the aspirations, education, and agency of girls. G7 leaders must work through policies, systems, and programs to address the unequal gender norms, roles, and stereotypes which mean that girls are expected to take on unpaid care and household responsibilities from a young age, beginning in early childhood.  

Climate change and humanitarian  crises

Plan International welcomes G7 Leaders’ recognition of the disproportionate impact of climate change on women, youth, and indigenous peoples, and their critical role in addressing this crisis. We are pleased to see G7 Leaders’ recognition of the role of young generations to promote not only climate action but also drive a more sustainable future. We look forward to how G7 Leaders will implement their commitment to amplify youth-led initiatives. In line with this, we call on G7 Leaders to explicitly consider the intergenerational impacts of the climate crisis specifically for children, adolescent girls and future generations when creating climate-related policy, financing and adaptation plans. We also call on G7 to report on last year’s commitment to providing over $21 billion to the worsening humanitarian and food crises, and for increased investment in addressing these issues.   

Plan International welcomes the demand from the G7 that all parties to conflict in Gaza comply with their obligations under international law in all circumstances, especially International Humanitarian Law (IHL). We continue to call with our humanitarian peers for unhindered and safe humanitarian access, an end to the targeting of humanitarian workers and aid, as well as an immediate, unconditional and permanent ceasefire. The G7 and all member states around the world have a responsibility to immediately cease the transfer of arms while there is a risk they will be used to commit violations of IHL and to ensure accountability for violations against children and all civilians. It is too late for the thousands of Palestinian civilians who have been killed or maimed, with entire families decimated, but for those who survive, the G7 must bring their suffering to an immediate end.  

Plan International looks forward to how the G7 will sustain and report on its previous and current commitments especially those that relate to girls’ rights, and accelerate actions and investments during Canada’s G7 Presidency in 2025. For this, we shall work with the government of Canada through our Canada National Office and other relevant offices, various engagement groups, government champions, and civil society partners.