GR Newsletter 6-13 June

Check out my newsletter for a snapshot of my recent engagements.

Closing remarks at the Y7 Summit in Paris, France on 13 June 2019.
“Conference on the Future of Inclusive Economies” co-hosted by the APPG on Inclusive Growth and and World Leadership Alliance – Club de Madrid on 13 June 2019 in London.

IOE Presidents’ Forum: Conversation with Gabriela Ramos “The G20 as an engine for reform – successes and ongoing challenges”

Remarks delivered for the session entitled “The G20 as an engine for reform – successes and ongoing challenges – In conversation with Gabriela Ramos” at the International Organisation of Employers’ Presidents’ Forum “Leadership in Changing Times” on 18 June 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland.

Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

Today we have heard a lot different forms of leadership in changing times. In this context, I would like to focus on one of the world’s leading global fora – the Group of 20 – reflecting on some of its landmark success before turning to its current challenges.

To start, I want to take you back to the G20’s birth as a leaders’ forum in the aftermath of the 2008-9 global financial crisis. This was the pivotal moment where the actions of G-20 leaders helped to turn the crisis around – by boosting consumer and business confidence to prevent broader contamination of the crisis, and by supporting the first stages of economic recovery through their co-ordination of a massive USD500bn stimulus package.

Other successes followed, with G20 leaders committing to a standstill on trade protectionism. They also set in motion a complete overhaul of financial markets regulatory framework and supported requirements for banks and other financial institutions to hold more capital.

Since those early days, the G20 has also made great strides in its agenda to promote a more level playing field by enhancing international tax co‑operation, eliminating tax fraud and reducing tax avoidance globally. Over time, this has become a truly great achievement for the G20. Through the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information (EOI) for Tax Purposes, hosted by the OECD, governments around the world have identified over EUR 95 billion in additional revenue through voluntary compliance mechanisms and other offshore investigations. And it has been good news for developing countries too. Through this work, tax avoidance and aggressive tax planning is being gradually and systematically tackled through the OECD/G20 BEPS Action Plan, which is now addressing the critical issue of the tax challenges arising from the digitalisation of the economy.

At the 2014 Australian G20 Summit in Brisbane, the OECD put forward the economic case for promoting women’s participation in the labour force be a key condition for stronger and more inclusive growth. This resulted in the G20 Brisbane Goal to reduce the gender gap in labour market participation rates by 25% by 2025, through the integration of 100 million more women into the labour force.

But by far the G20’s biggest success to date has been the trust that brought all these countries together in the first place to define common solutions to their common challenges – with the clear understanding that they could not “go solo”. In other words, G20 leaders recognised the fundamental interconnected-ness of the global economy in terms of GVCs and technologies, and the need to act together to ensure recovery while preventing the imbalances that led to the GFC in the first place. Furthermore, the G20 also provided the badly needed political momentum behind landmark agreements such as the climate Paris Agreement and the global goals for sustainable development, while also delivering in Bali on the last WTO –sponsored global agreement, i.e. the agreement on trade facilitation.

So where are we now? Despite all these achievements, we nevertheless find ourselves at a critical juncture. The world economy has entered yet another period of deceleration. Global GDP growth has slowed abruptly over the past year, going from close to 4% down to 3%. Our simulations show that renewed trade tensions between the US and China could end up shaving more than 0.6% from global GDP over the next two to three years.[1]

Decelerating investment growth during the post-crisis period has dampened the pace of convergence in per capita GDP between emerging market and developing economies, and advanced economies (other than China), and has slowed capital accumulation. Continued weak investment growth will make filling large investment gaps in EMDEs more challenging.

Meanwhile, new trade-restrictive measures are on the rise through tariff increases, import bans and export duties, adding to policy uncertainty and adversely affected business investment. Amongst the G20 economies for which current data are available, annual fixed investment growth has halved (from around 5% in 2017 to 2 1/2 % at the end of 2018). Productivity growth is low, even in the context of the digital transformation.  And there are increasing divergences on trade, on migration, and on many other issues.

Also, renewed risks are building up in the system, i.e the very same ones that led to the 2008-2009 crisis. Public sector and private sector debt is growing. Between 2007 and 2018, outstanding central government debt for the OECD area doubled and the debt-to-GDP ratio rose from 49.5% to 72.6%. Over the same period, the global stock of non-financial corporate bonds has almost doubled in real terms, at close to USD 13 trillion. The systemic risks are clear.

Today, we are living in a world with a potentially explosive conjunction of toxic “-isms”: protectionism, populism, nationalism, parochialism. They are themselves the symptoms of anxieties of people for their jobs, for the future of their children, and vis-à-vis technological change, digitalisation and globalisation more generally. Those perceptions are not groundless as documented in our recent Broken Elevator and Squeezed Middle Class reports. The middle classes are squeezed and shrinking and the share of wages in GDP keeps falling. Fourteen percent (14%) of jobs today are at high risk of being automated, while a further 32% could face substantial changes in content and 65% of children today will do jobs that have not yet been invented. But instead of fuelling innovation and new opportunities, these fears are instead leading to distrust and fractious politics and, down the line, to misguided policies that will only make things worse.   All in all, a vicious circle.

Against this background, the G20 has been less effective in recent times, starting with de-escalating trade tensions and tackling global excess capacities in certain industries.   But perhaps the worst news of all is that the backlash against globalisation and multilateralism has resulted in countries having different readings of the global challenges at stake and less commitment to working together. Climate is a case in point. We all know that the ambition needs to be scaled up, but if we are not reading from the same page it becomes impossible to have common solutions.

In this new reality, it is clear that the G20’s collective ambition to tackle our most pressing challenges is in danger of weakening, just when it is needed most.  If we want this situation to be reversed, we need to continue relying on facts. But we also need to change the traditional growth paradigm and put people at the centre. In a context of increased inequalities, we need to look towards equity and sustainability. We cannot continue just relying on GDP and GDP per capita as the only metric to measure success. These traditional measures are part of the story but not the whole, as our OECD wellbeing measures, inclusive growth and taxation work show. Fairness and equity are not the concepts favoured by more orthodox schools of economics over the past 30 years. But in this new world, this is what more equitable, inclusive, sustainable economies need to look like.

For business, there is a key role to play here in tacking inequalities. This is the reason why, at the OECD, we are building the Business for Inclusive Growth (B4IG) Initiative to bring governments, business and investors around a common agenda for inclusive growth, and I call on all of those here today to join these efforts. This is also the reason why we are still working to ensure full G20 country adhesion to or endorsement for our instruments and tools (such as the OECD’s MNE guidelines) that help to ensure a level playing field for business, promote responsible business conduct, and fight corruption – and due to the G20’s current lack of unity we are still not there.

Where to next for the G20? At the end of this month, leaders will meet in Osaka, with a fresh opportunity to prove what collective action can achieve where there is co-operation not confrontation and some good political will. Much is at stake. Let’s hope they succeed.


[1] OECD Economic Outlook (May 2019)

Financial Alliance for Women Summit: Session on Building Female-Friendly Entrepreneurial Ecosystems

On 18 June 2019 I participated in the “Session on Building Female-Friendly Entrepreneurial Ecosystems” at the 2019 Financial Alliance for Women Summit in Paris, France. Moderated by Paul Jenkins, Senior Partner, Head of Digital for McKinsey in Western Europe. Panelists: Ulrike Decoene, Chief Communications Officer, AXA; Laila Page, Chief of Staff, Commercial and Private Banking, NatWest/RBS.

Key highlights from my intervention:

  • In 2015, women were half as likely as men in the EU to be self-employed (9.9% vs. 17.8%).
  • The gender gap in entrepreneurial activities has changed very little in most countries since 2012.
  • Self-employed women earned two-thirds the income of self-employed men. In US the earnings gender gap in self-employment is 58%
  • Male entrepreneurs in OECD are more than twice as likely as women to have employees.
  • Recent estimates suggest that if the entrepreneurship gender gap were eliminated, global GDP could rise by as much as 2%, or USD 1.5 trillion.
  • Gender stereotypes see entrepreneurship as “masculine”, associated with male characteristics like courage, ambition & risk. OECD ABC of Gender Equality found that girls in same-sex schools took more risks in schoolwork.
  • Women lack confidence: only one-third of women indicate that they have sufficient skills to start a business, compared to half of men.
  • Stereotypes affect  sector choice & earnings (health + beauty vs. construction + transport).
  • Gender gaps in STEM also relevant: In OECD countries fewer than 1 in 5 computer science graduates are girls.
  • To increase share of women entrepreneurs, role-modeling & mentorship is key.
  • Ireland’s Going for Growth provides peer-to-peer mentoring for business development. Participants hired an additional 146 employees.
  • Other examples of mentorship are France’s Plan Entreprenariat des femmes, Germany’s FRAUEN Unternehmen or regional initiatives like Canada’s Alberta Grow to Greatness Excelerator Program.
  • Canada’s Business Women in Intl. Trade (BWIT) helps women-led business access international markets through business-to-business meetings and matchmaking opportunities.
  • Government programmes help access finance.
  • In developing & emerging countries, government programmes in Morocco, India and Malaysia help with credit guarantees covering 70-80% of loan.
  • Some countries offer women-specific measures in procurement markets, e.g. US and Korea, but also South Africa & Indonesia started set-asides.
  • Some venture capital Funds are also investing in women-led companies. The BDC Capital Women in Technology Fund (Canada) has committed to investing $200 million over the next five years.
  • OECD is leading the way with better data and analysis: we have 2013 Recommendation on Gender Equality in Education, Employment and Entrepreneurship & The Missing Entrepreneurs.
  • We recently launched Women’s Entrepreneurship (WE) Initiative to strengthen evidence by collecting gender-disaggregated internationally comparable data on SME access to finance.
  • WE Initiative is also looking at specific issues (data and analysis) of women tech entrepreneurs.
  • OECD work (like PISA, early childhood, and work on masculinities) is tackling stereotypes around entrepreneurship & risk-taking.

Workshop on Data Protection within International Organizations

Introductory remarks to the Workshop on Data Protection within International Organizations hosted by the OECD from 17-18 June 2019. The workshop was attended by experts from the UNHCRC, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the World Intellectual Property Organization, the European Commission, the European Securities and Markets Authority, the International Organization for Migration, Interpol, and the International Finance Corporation.

It is my pleasure to welcome this distinguished group of data protection experts.

Let me first acknowledge the efforts of the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), and particularly Giovanni Buttarelli and Wojciech Wiewiórowski (“Voy-chi Viviroski”), for their leadership in bringing together this community, which the OECD is pleased to host this year.  

The digital revolution is bringing great opportunity to improve people’s lives and promote inclusion.  

For those who are connected (which is still only half of the world population), the possibilities brought by digitalization are touching almost every aspect of our lives, facilitating social and business connectivity.  New technologies are transforming how we engage with the labour market, with society and with public services.

Recent OECD research has found that around one-half of all people across the OECD have accessed public services or health information online, and one quarter of people use new technologies to work remotely.

But there are also challenges: displaced and changing jobs, competition, tax policy, and, of course, data governance and protection. If we do not manage these problems adequately we risk exacerbating inequalities, eroding public trust, and endangering the privacy of individuals around the world.

People need to know their rights, and have a say on how their data is used. We cannot harness the digital economy to improve people’s lives without ensuring the trust of citizens in digital technologies. But we must move forward together.

Digitalisation is an inherently cross-border challenge, which calls for deepened international co-operation and engagement. This is why last month’s Ministerial Council Meeting, which welcomed   135 ministers and heads of delegation, focused on the challenges and opportunities of digitalization.

At the MCM we made important progress towards multilateral solutions, including the adoption of a new Council Recommendation on Artificial Intelligence to help ensure that AI is trustworthy and human-centred. We initiated phase 2 of our horizontal Going Digital project and we continue to advance in addressing the tax challenges raised by the digital economy. 

Despite the many divides and tensions currently affecting the multilateral community, thankfully one thing on which we all agree is that safeguarding personal data and privacy is fundamental to promoting trust in digital, and ensuring it is a motor for innovation, opportunity and inclusive growth. 

OECD research has shown that privacy is a top priority for citizens. For example, in 2016 more than 70% of Internet users in the EU provided personal information online, with many also performing actions to control access to these data.

In 2017, 46% of all Internet users in Europe refused to allow the use of personal information for advertising and 40% limited access to their profile or content on social networking sites. More than one-third of Internet users read privacy policy statements before providing personal information and restricted access to their geographical location.

This caution is certainly warranted. In 2015, around 3% of all Internet users across OECD countries for which data are available reported having experienced a privacy violation in the three months prior to being surveyed. Keep in mind, this is the figure for reported violations.

In countries such as Norway, Portugal, Sweden and Turkey, there was a notable increase in privacy violations as reported by individuals between 2010 and 2015. In 2016, 64% of individuals in the United States experienced or had been notified of a significant data breach pertaining to their personal data or accounts.

Although caution with regard to online behavior is advisable, without institutions and regulations to address these public worries, we risk eroding public trust. We are already seeing evidence of this: in 2018, 18% of EU28 citizens chose not to submit forms to public authorities, 20% of them citing concerns about the protection of personal data as the reason.

Policymakers have to listen to these concerns and be mindful of these risks, which means constantly staying at the leading edge of a rapidly changing sector.

The EU’s 2018 reform of data protection rules (General Data Protection Regulation – GDPR) aims to provide people with more control over their personal data and to create a more level playing field for business. Some felt these were too stringent, but then crises like the Cambridge Analytica scandal showed how cautious we have to be. And as a result of these changes, people understand better their rights.

The OECD is also a leader in this field. We have been working on privacy for almost 40 years. In 2013 our Members agreed to update the cornerstone of that work: the OECD Privacy Guidelines. Digital security and privacy is a moving target, and there are also emerging threats to contend with.

This is why we are looking at online protection of children and reviewing our 2012 Recommendation on the Protection of Children Online. Since then, more children than ever are online, and their usage has evolved to mobile devices and interacting on social media, making them more vulnerable to privacy risks and to cyber bullying. 

As part of this work, we have identified a clear need for better measurement and indicators of risks, so that we can base policies on sound evidence. This goes to the heart of our forward looking roadmap on digital which we launched at the Going Digital Summit last month, the Going Digital Integrated Policy Framework. Social prosperity, inclusion, well-being and building trust in the digital age are key pillars of our approach. 

This also means practicing what we preach. Last month we launched an overhaul of our internal approach to protecting personal data. It follows elements of the 2013 OECD Guidelines as well as other international best practice.

The new regime includes updated rules for processing, with broader rights for individuals. These rights apply not just to staff but extend to any individual whose data we process.

We also put in place a robust governance framework, with the introduction of the roles of Data Protection Officer and Data Protection Commissioner, as well as a mechanism to settle individual claims.

Billy Hawkes, our new Commissioner, is here with you for this event, as well as our Data Protection Officer, Michael Donohue.   

Getting the new regime established was the first step. Now we are busy rolling it out across the organization:

First, there is no privacy without good security. Our digital security team works very closely with the new data protection function. 

The second aspect relates to effecting organisational change. We are developing an experimental, behaviorally-informed approach to implement our new data protection rules.

For example, we are raising awareness among staff about phishing emails and this included an experiment in which we randomly sent different variations of the same message to staff and recorded differences in response rates.

This is yielding interesting results, which our security team in the Executive Directorate are analysing and will soon share. We hope that this way of using behavioural science and experimentation will help us improve digital security and data protection.

One dimension that we must keep at the top of our minds is that that there are implementation challenges and legal issues that are unique to international organisations. We are not like corporations or even national administrations. Our independence and immunities are part of our DNA.

We learn from domestic approaches, and draw on best practices, but are ultimately subject to our own rules. 

One issue of concern to many international organisations relates to personal data transfers. We fully appreciate that our Members and partners have to comply with domestic laws, so we need mechanisms and approaches that embed data protection into these flows. However, these mechanisms must also respect our international character.

We look forward to hearing how our colleagues in other organisations are addressing these and other issues and to sharing our best practices.

I’d like to finish by thanking you for your engagement on this issue which protects us all. I look forward to hearing about the outcomes of you discussions.

Keynote: Conference on the Future of Inclusive Economies

Keynote delivered at the Houses of Parliament of the United Kingdom on the occasion of the Conference on the Future of Inclusive Economies organized by APPG Inclusive Growth.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am glad to be with the All Party Parliamentary Group for Inclusive Growth, along with the Club de Madrid. I commend the work you are doing on inclusive growth.

This session is righly called “changing paradigms”. This is exactly what we need. Changing a growth model that did not deliver for people, for the planet or for social cohesion. Bad economics is bringing bad politics. Brexit is the perfect example.

Inequalities of income and opportunity are fracturing communities, undermining prosperity and eroding trust – little over 40% of people in OECD countries trust their governments.

The top 10% now earn almost ten times more than the bottom 10% across OECD countries, up from seven times 25 years ago.

When it comes to wealth, the top 10% hold more than half of the total net wealth (52%).

These economic divides do not only have an impact on the lives of those “left behind” today, they have a long-lasting effect on their children too. Educational disadvantage typically means not only smaller salaries tomorrow, but, most alarming of all, shorter lives.

A 25 year-old university-educated man can expect to live almost eight years longer than his lower-educated peer on average across OECD countries; the difference is around 5 years for women.

But the more we dig into this, the more worrisome the picture looks.  Let me highlight a few findings from recent OECD reports on social mobility and on the squeezed middle class.

Currently, it would take a child born into a low-income family about 5 generations – or up to 150 years – to reach the average level of income across OECD countries.

Another trend that we are seeing is that on average across OECD countries, the share of people in middle-income households is falling. We have found that 70% of baby boomers were part of the middle class in their twenties, compared with 60% of millennials.

While wages have stagnated, house prices have been growing three times faster than household median income over the last two decades, and the cost of healthcare and education has been rising above inflation. This is happening in the context of rising job insecurity, and a radical technological transformation, with it’s “Winner takes all” dynamics.

We estimate that around 14% of jobs are at high risk of automation and another 32% will change significantly. The low skilled will be most affected, and yet these workers are 40 percentage points less likely than high-skilled adults to participate in training.

The way we work is already changing too: almost 1 in 3 workers has a non-standard job, with great variance in terms of pay, job security, access to social protection, and collective bargaining coverage.

If the trend during globalization meant the decrease in unionization, with the digital revolution, health, unemployment and other risks are transferred to the digital workers, who are wrongly called “self- employed”.

Workers linked to these jobs are up to 50% less likely to get income support when out of work, making their situation even more precarious. This is why we are calling for a new way of developing social dialogue and collective bargaining for the future of work

One important dynamic in digitalisation is the fact that women are also being left behind. 250 million fewer women are connected to internet; 10 percent of start ups are headed by a woman, and 80% of downloads and software developments are done by male only teams. They are underrepresented in the STEM fields, and in ITC. No wonder that the biases and the content that is being produced and disseminated in social networks is having a clear impact on the mental health of girls.

So we have the facts and we should wonder how did we get here so that we can correct the course.

First,  we made choices and priviledged the efficiency of markets over equity considerations. Our metrics failed us too, as we relied on averages and material well-being as a proxy for success.  GDP became an end in itself instead of a means to an end.

The mantra that we should grow first and distribute later (which is still present nowadays), prevented us from imagining  a different  roadmap.

This is why the OECD developed the Productivity-Inclusiveness Nexus, which shows that more egalitarian societies have more solid and cohesive growth outcomes.

We confirmed that inequality hinders growth. And this is straightforward as there is a talent pool that is not tapped when we do not invest in quality education for all; or when SMEs cannot access the technology or financial schemes to succeed.  It also hinders growth because inequality in terms of health, crime, or dependency has a high fiscal cost.

So we also suggest to broaden the definition of economic success and look not only at material income, but also at all other aspects that matter for people’s well being. We launched a Framework for Policy action that calls to include equity considerations in the economic policies.

And we developed a dashboard of 24 indicators (including educational attainment of the bottom of the income distribution; or the ratio between the top to the bottom incomes, and the inclusiveness of the labor market). This dashboard builds on a decade of OECD work on measuring well-being beyond GDP, with extensive research on multidimensional indices such as the one that is launched today and that we welcome.

Taking forward the measurement agenda, our Framework  for Action provides a tangible roadmap for governments that focuses on three key areas: investing in people and places left behind; making the labour market more inclusive while supporting business dynamism; and improving the efficiency and responsiveness of governments.

But to achieve this, we should prioritize those policies that will improve the conditions of the bottom of the income distribution. 

We should create the support systems to level the playing fields, including affordable and high quality early childhood education, and quality jobs. At the OECD we also developed a framework on quality jobs that looks at level of remuneration, working conditions and job security.

To achieve this agenda, we should ensure that governments have the means to re-balance the outcomes. We should ensure progressive tax systems and this is also an agenda that the OECD has developed, fighting tax evasion and erosion, ensuring that multinational companies pay their fare share, and advancing a solution for the taxing of the digital economy, that we just presented at the G20 Ministerial Meeting in Fukuoka.

Beyond governments, inclusive growth agendas need to be run through a broad coalition of actors. The corporate sector has a key role.

The OECD Business for Inclusive Growth Initiative (B4IG), launched just a few months ago, is catalyzing the efforts of governments and companies to promote equality of opportunities (such as training and upskilling programmes for disadvantaged groups); provide “good work” opportunities; eliminate gender inequality, promoting diversity and inclusion;  and finally, reducing territorial inequalities through generating economic opportunities in remote areas. This initiative may deliver in Biarritz a strong business pledge for action on inclusive growth.   

The G7 has remained a strong promoter of Inclusive Growth: from the Italian Presidency two years ago with the Bari Agenda to the Canadian Presidency last year that focused on Growth that Works for all.

As for the G20, the most important contribution to inclusive growth is the tax and the gender agenda. The figth against tax evasion and erosion has delivered 93 billion euros in additional revenues. This is money that can be invested in people and places left behind.

On gender, in 2014, at the Australian G20 Summit in Brisbane, the OECD brought the economic case to tackle gender inequality to G20 leaders. This was how we got leaders to agree to reduce the gender gap in labour market participation rates by 25% by 2025, through the integration of 100 million women into the labour force.  Since then all G20 countries have experienced an increase in labour force participation, with particularly large reductions in the gap in Japan, Argentina, Brazil and Korea.

Building on this, inclusive growth goals have been advanced in all the Presidencies. In Argentina, the focus was to support those more affected, or less prepared in the future of work.

This year, to support the objectives of the Japanese G20 Presidency, the OECD is contributing to a number of relevant workstreams particularly on ageing. Turkey  has put an emphasis on refugees and the challenge of migration.

But the approach has been peacemeal, and what is required is to launch the multilateral discussion about the new growth paradigm. And yet, just when we need it most, multilateralism is being questioned, and the willingness to co-operate is low for many countries.

The last time we had a major social and systemic crisis the welfare state was created. This time, we have not been able to advance a coherent response. But we need to thrive to develop an empowering state, that invests in people and regions, particularly those left behind.

And definitely, we need to change the metrics and the mindset, to develop a more compassionate growth model. Kailash Satyarty, the nobel prize winner that is rescuing children from slavery has said that the international economy has globalized everything, capital flows, technology, digitalization. It is time to globalize compassion. For this to happen, please count on the OECD. With our evidence, but also with our commitment, we will be proud to contribute.

Y7 at the OECD: Calling on G7 for a Fair Future

On 12 June 2019 Gabriela Ramos delivered the closing remarks of the Youth 7 Summit hosted at the OECD, commending the Y7 delegates on their “Call to Action on G7 Leaders for a Fair Future.”

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am delighted to close this year’s Youth 7 Summit and would like to congratulate the Y7 team for their leadership and hard work in co-creating the “Call to Action on G7 Leaders for a Fair Future”.

The OECD is committed to building a fair future with and for you. As young leaders, you have the opportunity to help set the terms.

Young people have the least influence on policies that affect them the most, such as climate change and inequality[1].  Yet, we’ve seen extraordinary forms of people-power movements emerge around the world in recent years, often led by young people. We need to leverage this desire and ability to shape our shared future, and join forces to address the very complex challenges we face.

Globalisation has brought a number of benefits – lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty, spreading knowledge, ideas, people and goods across the world.

But not everyone benefits.  

Where do we start?

First, second and third: we need to address inequalities. This is why we warmly support your recommendation for G7 leaders to better protect the most vulnerable and achieve equality of opportunities.

Corporate profits are at historic highs in many countries with profits rising from 7.6% of global GDP in 1980 to 9.8% in 2013 and shareholder payouts hit a new record in 2018 as global dividend payments neared the $500bn mark.

Yet, whole swathes of our populations are excluded from contributing to, or at least benefiting from, this economic prosperity.

In many countries, the income gap between the top and the bottom deciles keeps growing: in the OECD it is now almost 10 times, up from 7 times in the 1980s.[i]

And social mobility is stalling. The OECD’s recent ‘Broken Social Elevator’ report found that in an average OECD country it would take around four to five generations for children from the bottom earnings decile to attain the level of mean earnings.[ii] That’s 155 years!

A whole range of policies can be taken by countries. The G7 Social last week and the upcoming education ministerial can give important policy directions to help build this change from and the OECD stands ready to support them.  

There is also an important role for businesses to play to fight inequalities.

The OECD has been working with the Presidency to bring governments, business and investors around a common agenda for inclusive growth by building a coalition of companies, through the Business for Inclusive Growth Platform, to pledge concrete actions against inequalities at the G7 Leaders’ Summit in Biarritz.

Businesses also have to act responsibly and pay their fair share in tax. The OECD/G20 BEPS Project and common reporting standard for the automatic exchange of tax information, has already led to 93 billion euros in revenues. This is an area where multilateral co-operation is essential and delivers results.

You also made clear that we cannot tackle inequality and vulnerability without guaranteeing gender equality and fair social protection for women.

I could not agree more.

One example among a thousand: on average, only 1 in 4 board members of the largest publicly listed companies in G7 countries are women.

OECD research shows that already at the age of 15, girls are twice less likely to aspire to a career as an engineer, as a scientist, or as an architect.

We know what we need to tackle: in addition to eliminating lingering legal discrimination and barriers to gender participation,  we need to look at paid parental leave for mothers and fathers; affordable and good-quality childcare or pay transparency measures.

But we need to be smarter and more effective in the ways we execute gender equality policies: starting with eliminating stereotypes in school, promoting the adoption of “whole-of-society” approaches and gender mainstreaming in public policy-making through budgeting frameworks and mobilising the private sector to do more and better.

We are working with the French G7 Presidency, in the G20, but also many other actors from business and joining hands with other IOs for instance through the Equal Pay International Coalition initiative.

Intimately linked to the inequality agenda is addressing the impact of the digital transformation.

You will be the leaders of this digital transformation and you will need to ensure it builds a society that drives diversity, inclusion and empowerment.

Starting with your future jobs.

We know automation could displace many jobs over the next decades.

•       14% of jobs today are at high risk of being automated. A further 32% could face substantial changes in content.

•       65% of children today will do jobs that have not yet been invented.

We need to make sure our education and training systems are  adapted to equip our youngsters but also workers already in the labour market to address this change.

Second, digital technologies should be developed and used in a “human-centric” way, making sure people, starting with young girls and boys, are safe.

With AI at the center of the G7 presidency this year:  its future will depend on our common and coordinated ability to create a predictable, stable policy environment that fosters innovation in trustworthy AI, developed around values of human determination and inclusiveness, accountability, security and safety.

A major step in this direction has recently been taken at the OECD a few weeks ago, as forty-two countries have just adopted the first intergovernmental instrument on Artificial Intelligence to guide the responsible adoption of AI.  

The OECD AI Principles describe a common approach from all countries around the table and beyond, to an AI that promotes inclusive growth and sustainable development, that generates outcomes to improve people’s well-being.

Besides the many benefits that digital transformation has brought, it has also enabled the faster dissemination of negative social interactions, including cyberbullying, hate speech and discrimination against specific groups.

The recent events including the Christchurch attacks have been a tragic reminder of the challenge we face.

We need to forcefully combat these misuses of the Internet, while preserving freedom of expression and innovation.

All stakeholders can do more to deter and reduce these harms and make the Internet a safer environment by designing and implementing an integrated policy framework to tackle online harms as we do in the analog world.

Last but not least, all these efforts will be vain if we fail to protect our planet. You recognise this critical juncture by advocating for a fair adaptation to climate change for all.

To accelerate action, we need to rethink our economic and business models and must take stronger action now. The G7 can and must lead the way.  

Let me commend the efforts of the French Presidency and Madame Brune Poirson, for putting biodiversity as a core priority for the global agenda. Protecting our biodiversity is one of the most critical challenges of our era, as the planet is facing its sixth mass extinction. And the outlook is bleak: coral reefs, for example, are projected to decline by 99% if global warming reaches 2 degrees Celsius.

The OECD is supporting the efforts made by G7 countries to scale up action on protecting biodiversity. We have helped build the economic and business case for preserving biodiversity and identified concrete policy priorities for action on this crucial issue.

Y7 leaders,

Today, what brings us together is the belief that international fora like the G7 can advance ambitious agendas for the long-term that influence positively people’s lives for generations.

We firmly believe that the multilateral way is the right way, is the effective way.

Thank you for your own commitment to realising a fair future.

As American educator and civil rights activist, Mary Mcleod Bethune once said: “We have a powerful potential in our youth, and we must have the courage to change old ideas and practices so that we may direct their power toward good ends.”


[1] 2018 OECD Youth stock tacking report


[i] A Broken Social Elevator? How to promote Social Mobility, OECD, 2018, p3

[ii] A Broken Social Elevator? How to promote Social Mobility, OECD, 2018, p14

WomenDeliver 2019: Merck Group Session: Healthy Women, Healthy Economies: New insights into womenomics

Promoting gender equality in paid and unpaid contributions to health care and care giving.

Panel remarks delivered at the Merck Group Session entitled “Healthy Women Healthy Economies: new insights into womenomics” at the WomenDeliver Conference in Vancouver, Canada on 6 June 2019. Moderated by Felicia Knaul, Professor, Miller School of Medicine and Director, Institute for Advanced Study of the Americas; President, Tomatela Pecho A.C. Mexico. Panelists: Christine Bugos, Vice President Global Policy and External Affairs, EMD Serono; Roopa Dhatt, Executive Director and Co-Founder, Women in Global Healht; Flavia Bustreo, Board Member, Fondation Botnar, Chair, Governance and Nomination Committee, The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health.

In what ways are you – through your work or organization – engaged in reducing gaps and barriers to gender transformative programs or policy making in health care and care giving?

  • In all regions of the world, women often face the highest levels of discrimination in their own households, especially when caring and domestic responsibilities within the family are concerned.
  • To reduce gaps and barriers, first we have to measure and understand them. The OECD makes a crucial contribution in this area.
  • Let me share with you a few results from just one of our tools: the OECD’s latest Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) Results, which was released earlier this year. SIGI measures discriminatory laws, norms and practices.

Women undertake a disproportionate share of unpaid work…

  • SIGI 2019 shows that globally, women undertake 75% of unpaid care and domestic work.
  • At the global level, one person in two has negative attitudes towards “working mothers”, by thinking that children will suffer if the mother is gainfully working outside the home.
  • One person in six denies women the right to work, declaring that it is not acceptable for a female family member to have paid work outside the home because her role is to take care of both the children and the household.
  • Women disproportionately carry the burden of unpaid care for children, relatives and maintenance of the household.
  • Globally women devote an average of five hours per day to unpaid care and domestic work, compared to fewer than two hours for men.
  • In all regions, women continue to spend substantially more time in unpaid care work than men, ranging from twice as much in Europe to four times more in sub-Saharan Africa, to seven times men’s contribution in North Africa.
  • This severely limits the ability of women to participate in the labour force. In countries where women do not have access to reproductive rights and family planning, balancing caring with a career becomes even harder.
  • And yet we have so much to gain from empowering women in the labour force.
  • We know from our work with the G20 that boosting female labour market participation and reducing the gender gap in labour force participation by 25% by 2025 could add 1 percentage point to GDP growth across the OECD over the period 2013-25, and almost 2.5 percentage points if gender participation gaps were halved by 2025.

Ageing societies can increase informal, unpaid, caregiving by women

  • As well as the unpaid care provided to children, we also, increasingly, have to look at the other end of the age spectrum, at caring for elderly relatives. This is especially relevant in many OECD countries, where the population is ageing fast.
  • With rapidly ageing societies, long-term care needs are set to increase in the future.
  • The share of the population aged 80 years and over was nearly 8% in 2015 and it is expected to double by 2050 across OECD countries.
  • The bulk of care for the elderly in most countries is still provided by unpaid family carers and by women in particular. On average, across the OECD more than 60% of unpaid family carers are women.
  • Informal care is critical for the well-being of individuals and society as a whole, and many carers report that it is rewarding to undertake. However, even when caring for loved ones, it can put an extra burden on the persons who provide it.
  • There is an opportunity cost to the time that they spend providing care, as they could devote that time to paid work or leisure. Informal carers, especially those who give more than 20 hours of care per week, are more likely to work part-time or not at all. And they are 20% more likely than other people to have mental health problems.
  • This is not just about unpaid, or informal work. Women provide most of care to the elderly also in the formal system. Across the OECD, 90% of elderly-care workers are women.
  • Working conditions in this sector are often poor. Temporary work is twice as likely as in other parts of health care. Pay is low, and contracts often precarious for a job that is physically and mentally demanding: one in six elderly-care workers report that they suffer from a health problem caused by their work.
  • Unless governments regulate and properly fund elderly care services, these problems will persist for communities, families and especially women.

Share some examples of effective and innovative policies and programs to promote the equitable participation of women and men in labor markets, health care and care giving? What has made them successful?

  • Change is unfortunately very slow, and it is low because the first thing that has to change is our mindset. The gender stereotyping and cultural norms about what is good for a girl and what is good for a boy, and the expectations societies put on girls are a major obstacle for change.
  • Engaging men in care giving is vital to close gender gaps, and it is also really good for men!
  • Men who spend more time with their families are more satisfied with their lives than men who spend less time. Fathers’ involvement also has a positive effect on children’s academic performance as well as on their behavioural, social, and emotional wellbeing.
  • For decades, the OECD has been applying the gender lens across policy areas, designing, developing and delivering the best policies to advance equality. This includes non-discrimination laws; dual parental leave; policies related to taxes, infrastructure, environment; and promoting gender representation in the high ranks of the public and the private sectors, including through quotas and targets.
  • We have child policies with excellent impact in terms of supporting women to work, and we have led the charge with gender neutral text books. We have brought this to the G20 with the 25×25 gender target in 2014, to help bring 100 million women into the workforce, and more recently with the findings on Bridging the Digital Gender Divide in 2018. And we are constantly tracking progress on all these issues.

Policies to increase male participation in unpaid work

  • In an effort to get parents to share caregiving more equally, many countries now reserve part of parental leave for the exclusive use of fathers.
  • This also requires financial incentives and rules for men not to be discriminated against!
  • Access to early childhood education and care is also crucial for gender equality, empowering both parents to work when children are young. Several countries, including Canada, Japan, Korea and Poland, have increased subsidies or benefits for childcare and others, including Norway and the UK, have introduced or expanded free childcare.
  • Since 2007 in Germany, if both parents use at least two months of paid leave each, the household is granted an additional two months of paid leave, which has seen an increase of 14% in the proportion of children with a father that took parental leave.
  • Not only does this help in the early stages of raising a child, but it also breaks many stereotypes around women taking maternity leave and therefore being discriminated against in the world of work.

Policies to ensure population ageing does not deepen gender gaps

  • At the other end of the age spectrum, governments need to invest more in adequate funding for elderly care services; they need to improve working conditions and the status of workers, providing career opportunities.
  • With these actions, governments can make the sector more attractive, they can reduce the burden of unpaid care, and they can help close gender gaps, while improving the well-being of older persons.
  • Countries also need to improve benefits and services to those providing care duties and tasks for older persons. A recent study of 27 EU countries found that financial benefits were the most common form of support to caregivers, followed by respite care and training.
  • Financial benefits (paid directly to the caregiver or via the care recipient) are important and relatively common. However, they rarely compensate carers in full for the costs they incur. Moreover, take-up of informal care benefits may be low, especially where significant paperwork is involved.
    • For example, carers in France, can be paid via the main long-term care benefit, the APA, but it requires them to have an employment contract and, in practice, few people use of this provision.
    • As a result, carers seldom receive enough financial compensation to offset the opportunity cost of caregiving. So making benefits easier to claim is key, especially for people who may be already juggling paid and unpaid work as well as caring for others.
  • The evidence also shows that countries with strong social protection have greater gender equality in care giving. In fact, inadequate social protection effectively doubles the burden on women.
  • In 2013, a study found that women aged 50 and over in countries with low-level social protection (i.e. those where public spending on long-term care is less than 1% of GDP) were 41% more likely to provide daily informal care than their male counterparts.
  • The figure for their peers in countries with high levels of social protection (where public spending on long-term care exceeds 2% of GDP) was only 23%.

OECD Recommendations in laws, norms and customs

  • The OECD also makes many recommendations to tackle the underlying cultural and legal discriminations that drive gender gaps in care giving.
  • For example, SIGI 2019 recommends including legal provisions recognising women with equal right to be a head of household and guarantee equal parental authority during marriage and informal unions. In Rwanda, the legal provision granting the status of heads of household only to men was removed in 2016. Under the revised Law Governing Persons and Family, spouses are expected to manage the household jointly and have equal rights and obligations.
  • It is also critical to provide better access to basic infrastructures and public services, especially in developing countries: better access to water and energy, childcare and care for the elderly reduces the time women spend on domestic care.
    • Expanding school hours also enables women to replace time spent on childcare with more productive activities.
    • For example, in Cuba, children’s circles administered by the Federation of Cuban Women provide daily care to children from forty-five days of age until school entry. This system has substantially contributed to reducing women’s unpaid care work and enhanced women’s participation in the labour market.
    • Guaranteeing family-friendly working conditions that enable parents to balance their working hours and caring responsibilities also helps.
    • A flexible work schedule or teleworking allows women and men to choose working hours that better accommodate their caring responsibilities. In Croatia and Uzbekistan, for example, the law establishes that parents are entitled to flexible/part-time schedules.
    • Last but not least, the OECD also recommends tackling entrenched social norms and traditional views of masculinity through training and awareness-raising campaigns targeting men in order to “de-feminise” care giving and reshape existing gender norms that prevent men from assuming equal caring responsibilities. In this effort, gender neutral textbooks are particularly important.

WomenDeliver Plenary: The Power of Data and Accountability: Girls and women count, must be counted, and counted in

Panel remarks delivered on a WomenDeliver Plenary Panel: The Power of Data and Accountability: Girls and women count, must be counted, and counted it. The panel was opened by Her Royal Highness Princess Mary of Denmark. Other panelists: Alison Holder, Director, Equal Measures 2030; Julia Fillard, Chair of the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership, Former Prime Minister of Australia; Ephraim Kisangala, Youth Leader; Jayathma Wickramanayake, UN Envoy on Youth; Joy Phumaphi, Co-Chair of the UN Secretary-General’s Independent Accountability Panel for Every Woman, Every Child, Every Adolescent, Osvaldo Rudloff Pulgar, Executive Director, OLACEFS; Asparajita Gogoi, Co-Chair, Global What Women Want, Executive Director, Centre for Catalyzing Change.

You have been making a strong case, pushing for gender perspectives across all aspects of data, why is this important and how can other stakeholders incorporate this into their operational DNA?

  • I came to the gender equality debate quite late, largely through my work as the OECD’s Sherpa to the G20.
  • I remember so clearly it was like a blindfold had been taken off my eyes.
  • I started seeing these huge gaps and inequalities in every area. Not just gaps in employment and income, but also in opportunities, in skills, in representation in public life, in the way we raise girls and boys differently, encourage them to pursue different (mostly lower paid, less ambitious) careers, and how women are affected by policies designed mostly by and for men.
  • Once you start looking for gender gaps, you find them everywhere, because our societies remain in the grip of deeply held gender stereotypes that pervade every dimension of life, public and private, economic and social.
  • The reason I think that we are not seeing enough progress in closing these gaps, is because we are not doing enough to tackle gender stereotypes.
  • OECD data gathered through the SIGI Index shows that half of the world’s population still thinks that children will suffer when their mother is in paid employment outside the home, in North Africa two thirds of people feel this way. One in six people think that it’s totally unacceptable for women to undertake paid work outside the home, in southern Asia, it’s one in three.
  • In this climate, data has an important role to play in showing the public and also policymakers how these stereotypes manifest themselves in concrete terms, showing the damage that they cause to our societies, both men and women. Like our SIGI 2019, which shows that the current level of gender discrimination costs 6 trillion US Dollars, or 7.5% of global income.
  • Data also shows the benefits that equality brings, and that is a powerful motor for change. For example, we got gender equality on the G20 agenda, because we made the case using disaggregated data.
  • In Brisbane in 2014, we showed that reducing the gender gap in labour force participation by 25% by 2025 could bring 100 million women into the labour force and add 1 percentage point to GDP growth across the OECD over the period 2013-25, and almost 2.5 percentage points if gender participation gaps were halved by 2025.

What has been achieved as a result of access to gender disaggregated data? Take us through some examples.

  • The OECD has led the way in calling for gender disaggregated data. This was at the heart of our 2013 OECD Recommendation on Gender Equality in Education, Employment and Entrepreneurship.
  • Gender disaggregated data has the power to accurately map issues like the “motherhood penalty”:
    • On average in the OECD, the gender gap in median hourly earnings among full-time-employed men and women with at least one child was 21.2%, almost double the gap for full-time employed men and women without children (11%). We are seeing in the OECD that younger women are catching up with men, and then falling behind as soon as children enter the equation, whereas men’s careers continue to be unaffected.
  • Gender disaggregated data is also making women’s contribution to the economy fully visible, helping bring to light gender discrimination and gaps which are not picked up by conventional economic statistics:
    • The best example is measuring unpaid work in the home, which is essential to the functioning of the economy. The OECD estimates that unpaid work represents between 12% and 24% of GDP and women contribute two thirds of it, which is why in April 2017 the leaders of the G7 gave the OECD mandate to “update and disseminate its existing national accounts estimates of unpaid household activities”.
  • Applying a gender lens can also help understand the impact of policies on women, even in areas where we are not used to considering gender dimensions, for example infrastructure:
    • For instance, compared to men, women tend to rely more on public transport, travel shorter distances, and travel more during off-peak hours.
    • Unsafe and low security transports also put women at a disadvantage as they are more affected by violence and this vulnerability affects their well-being and their labour force participation.
    • Women’s exposure to pollution is also different and pollution has different impacts on them, especially when pregnant.
  • The gender-environment nexus is particularly dramatic in developing countries. In the developing world women and girls are responsible for over 70% of water and fuelwood collection. The time spent on water collection adds up to 200 million hours every day!
    • Inadequate access to sanitation and hygiene facilities also disproportionally affect poor women and girls the most. UNICEF has estimated that roughly 1 in 10 girls in Africa miss school because of their periods each year, and in India it is estimated 1 in 5 girls stop school when they menstruate.
  • Using data to understand the impacts of policies on women is essential to every policy area and to resource allocation, and yet less than half of OECD countries have introduced or plan to introduce gender budgeting, often due to a lack of data.
  • As well as better seizing the impacts of policies, gender disaggregated data can also help understand emerging challenges like the digital gender divide.
  • While more women than men complete tertiary education, only 25% of those graduating in ICT subjects are women and in G20 economies only 7% of ICT patents were filed by women. Shockingly, evidence also shows over the period 2012-17, around three-quarters of big data software packages were created by men-only teams. This results in health tracker apps that don’t track periods or voice activated devices that perpetuate gender stereotypes and struggle to understand female voices.
  • Gender disaggregated evidence from the OECD PISA survey of 15 years olds shows that gender-related differences are more related to disparities in what boys and girls think they are good at and is good for them, than to differences in what they actually can do.
    • For example, girls and boys perform similarly in science, but the share of boys aspiring to a career in engineering and computing is around four times higher than that of girls.  At age 15 far fewer girls (4.7%) than boys (18%)—even among the top performers— reported that they expect to have a career in engineering or computing. But when you look at health services (a more ‘caring’ but often less lucrative career), girls are twice as likely as boys to aspire to that career.

What are the greatest challenges we face in accessing this data; are there policy recommendations you would propose to address this?

  • It is no so much a challenge of access than a failure of political will. The data is not there, because too often it is not being measured.
  • As our Chief Statistician Martine Durand likes to say, we should measure what we treasure, not just treasure what we already measure. 
  • We need to raise the level of ambition. Look at the SDGs, the defining development challenge of our age.
  • The SDGs address gender issues twice:
    • Firstly in a dedicated SDG on gender equality: Target 5 recognises gender equality as a universal driver of sustainable development and asserts the need to accelerate efforts to end gender inequality.
    • Secondly, through the ambition to ‘leave no-one behind’: the UN Inter-Agency Expert Group on SDG indicators (IAEG-SDGs) recommends that all indicators to be disaggregated by (among other criteria) gender, when possible.
  • Yet, considerable data gaps persist. 
  • Not all OECD countries comply to the Recommendation regarding disaggregated gender data, with the largest gaps in the area of entrepreneurship. As for the SDGs, out of the 53 gender-related SDG indicators, only 32 can draw on available data.
  • For SDG 5 (gender equality), the largest data gaps are found for:
    • Target 5.2 on eliminating all forms of violence against women: 8 out of 35 OECD countries lack data! This is despite it being the top priority for OECD countries according to the 2016 OECD Gender Equality Questionnaires. The OECD is organising a global event to address violence against women on 5-6 February 2020, including the data gap issue;
    • There is also a large data gap on Target 5.4 on recognising and valuing unpaid work: 9 out of 35 OECD countries lack data;
    • In some cases data do exist but they are neither fully comparable nor timely.
  • To address these challenges we have to work to improve statistical capacity, putting an emphasis on gender disaggregated data, this applies to developed and developing countries alike.
  • The OECD has launched a Toolkit for Mainstreaming and Implementing Gender Equality, which provides a compendium of best practices, as well as practical guidance to all countries on data gathering, access, effective consultation, including with civil society, as well as statistical capacity and awareness raising.
  • The OECD is also working with UN Women through a Memorandum of Understanding to improve measurement tools, methodologies and statistical capacity related to gender equality and women’s empowerment.
  • However, it is also important to remember that just as the overall average hides women’s outcomes, women’s outcomes can also hide other inequalities.
  • Gender inequalities may interact with other inequalities, e.g. those based on geographical location, income, age and family status. It’s therefore important to have granular data that can guide the development and implementation of policies.
  • For example, in OECD countries, women aged 25 who did not attain upper secondary education live nearly five years less on average than university educated females.
  • OECD employment rates for tertiary educated women are also 33 percentage points higher than for primary-educated women.

WomenDeliver2019: OECD/Sida Event: Shaping an Empowering Narrative on Financing for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment

Keynote address delivered to open the joint OECD-Sida Event on Shaping an Empowering Narrative on Financing for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment at the WomenDeliver Conference in Vancouver, Canada on 6 June 2019. Opening remarks delivered by Annika Strandhäll, Swedish Minister of Social Security.

Panelists:

Elizabeth Sugg, Baroness, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development, United Kingdom
Sarah Hendricks, Director, Gender Equality at Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Alix Peterson Zwane, Chief Executive Officer at the Global Innovation Fund
Alexandra Garita, Deputy Director of Prospera International Network of Women’s Funds
Christina Juhasz, Chief Investment Officer of Women’s World Banking Asset Management
Raquel Lagunas, Deputy Director, Gender Team, UNDP

Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for joining us for this event devoted to shaping an empowering narrative on financing for gender equality. This is jointly organized by the OECD and the Swedish International Development Agency, a leading champion for gender equality initiatives across the world.

We know that no country in the world has yet achieved full gender equality, even the Nordics. In fact the OECD recently launched a report on supporting Nordic countries to close the gaps once and for all, which was called “Is the Last Mile the Longest?”

Unfortunately, across the world, almost all countries are struggling to provide equally outcomes and opportunities to half of their populations.

This is not only a human tragedy, but also brings great economic and developmental costs.

The OECD’s recently published Social Institutions and Gender Index examines discriminatory social institutions, gender norms, and legal barriers that hold women back and estimates that the income loss associated with discrimination amounts to 6 trillion US dollars.

SIGI also shows that these institutional, legal, and social barriers that hold women back also mean that development projects impact them differently, which has implications for financing.

Let’s take a simple example: we can invest all we want into improving education systems around the world. But without adequate gender considerations, the fact that in 112 countries parents or courts are allowed to consent to juvenile marriages or that 75% of unpaid carework globally is undertaken by women will ensure that girls ad boys of the same ages and social backgrounds will not benefit equally from these investments.

Infrastructure provides another example. We have to take the policy impacts into account. It is often assumed that women will automatically benefit from new infrastructure projects in the same way as men do, without acknowledging possible distinct impacts on women and men according to their needs and social roles.

For example, urban design plays a major role in people’s life, but the risks of uncontrolled urbanisation, urban sprawl and slums are often greater for women as they are more likely to be targets of assaults and harassment. Improved urban infrastructure with a gender perspective would demand public lighting, safe public spaces, and safe public transport to help mitigate safety-related risks that women have to face in their everyday life.

The impacts of hard infrastructure like energy and sanitation are also linked to gender. For example, in many parts of the developing world women and girls are responsible for over 70% of water and fuelwood collection. The time spent on water collection adds up to 200 million hours every day!

Infrastructure decisions can also determine access to schooling, since sanitation facilities affects teenage girls school attendance because of stigmas associated to menstruation.

This is just a few examples of why we have to apply a gender lens to everything we do and everything we finance. The OECD is working with its member and partner countries to do this.

With regard to ODA, the OECD tracks aid that focuses on gender equality and women’s empowerment using the DAC Gender Equality Policy Marker.

This is the most established tool for monitoring development finance at the global level, and it is a very powerful stocktaking tool.

The good news is that, over the past decade, both the share and amounts of ODA mainstreaming gender equality and women’s empowerment have increased steadily. In 2016-2017, the 30 DAC members committed an average of USD 44.8 billion per year, corresponding to 38% of bilateral aid integrating gender equality and women’s empowerment.

However, funding for dedicated programmes with the principal goal of achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment remains consistently below 4% of bilateral aid over the years. This is not good enough. In 2016-2017, this corresponded to less than 5 billion US dollars of aid.

Moreover, our data also shows that a very small share of ODA is allocated directly to women’s rights organisations based in developing countries.

In 2017, only 31 million US dollars of ODA was allocated directly by DAC members, even though we know that these organisations are essential to drive change towards gender equality at the local level. We can do better.

But at the OECD we are also aware that the investment landscape is changing and expanding beyond ODA, and for the better! A wider array of actors is getting involved and pushing for more equitable development. Private and public, domestic and international, bilateral and multilateral financing, are all contributing to a new, more diverse team of investors.

We must ensure that we mobilise these new forces of investment in the most equitable, inclusive, rights-based way.

Unfortunately, recent OECD analysis of development financing indicates that SDG5 is in fact the third least financially supported goal of all SDGs.[1] Thus, the key question remains: how do we ensure that all of these actors and financing types take gender equality into account and, as a minimum requirement, do not undermine gender equality in developing countries?

At the OECD, we are all about evidence, policy, and partnerships: We are using our existing data, further expanding available data, and facilitating knowledge exchange and partnerships on financing flows for SDG5, in order to increase both the quality and the quantity of financing for gender equality.

For example, official development flows from OECD countries expands beyond ODA. These other official flows include for example loans that do not qualify as ODA, and export credits in support of trade. We have found that some OECD DAC countries already analyse some of these flows against the DAC gender equality policy marker. Out of this, a third of the “other” financing flows beyond traditional aid integrate gender equality.

In addition to this, multilateral organisations have a major role to play in supporting gender equality and women’s empowerment in developing countries. Some multilateral organisations report their gender-focused ODA to the OECD using the DAC marker. In 2017, approximately 35% of multilateral organisations’ financing reported to the DAC integrated gender equality.

Also, philanthropy is a key player. Private foundations form an increasingly important part of overall development financing, and are becoming prominent in sectors such as reproductive health and health. Out of the 26 foundations that report their financial flows to the OECD, approximately 16% of this financing focusses on gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Lastly, commercial finance, including blended finance is supporting women’s economic empowerment. There is today an encouragingly large range of financial instruments that seek development return from commercial financial resources, including blended finance. Many of these approaches come together under broad definitions of “social impact investing” and “gender lens investing”.

Encouragingly, According to OECD surveys, out of the blended finance funds and facilities surveyed in 2019, 55% said that their investment strategy contributes to achieving SDG5.

While we welcome the fact that the focus on gender equality for these different development funders is increasing, it is not enough.

The uncomfortable truth remains that the majority of financial flows to and in developing countries currently do not consider gender equality at all.

As a first step, we need to ensure that none of these flows undermine gender equality. This is why we have to be very concerned about any step back on access to reproductive rights and family planning, for example. 

And, in the future, we have to ensure that flows actually support gender equality directly.

With greater resources for development comes greater responsibility to ensure it is mobilized efficiently and equitably. We must keep pushing for gender lenses in all development work. Because when you put the gender gap glasses on, you see the gaps everywhere, in virtually every policy area, and at every stage of development.

Sadly, analysing and measuring the gender gaps is not enough. SDG 5 will not achieve itself, and to accelerate action we need to increase the financial flows which are directed specifically at this issue. 

I very much look forward to hearing your contributions on how to achieve this, and I invite you all to work in partnership with the OECD in this effort. Thank you.


[1] Information based on not yet published analysis by the DCD on Official Development Assistance (ODA) and Other Official Flows (OOF) mapped against the SDGs.