W20 Saudi Arabian Presidency Successfully Concludes as Leadership Transitions to Italy in 2021


As the G20 presidency transfers to Italy in 2021, the presidency of the Women 20 (W20), a non-governmental G20 engagement group, will also transition from Saudi Arabia to Italy. The W20 brings together a transnational network of delegates representing non-governmental women’s organizations, civil society, female entrepreneurs, businesses, and think tanks across G20 member states and works to ensure that gender considerations are mainstreamed into G20 discussions and translated into the annual G20 Leaders’ Declaration.

On 12 December, the W20 Troika, which includes delegates from past (Japan in 2019), current (Saudi Arabia in 2020) and future (Italy in 2021) host countries, along with other W20 delegates, will gather virtually to commemorate the culmination of a successful W20 Saudi Arabian presidency and officially hand over the leadership role to Italy along with a comprehensive handbook to help ensure a seamless transition. Participants will discuss 2020 accomplishments and ways to continue the momentum toward gender equality and women’s empowerment in 2021. In 2022, Indonesia will host so the Troika will shift accordingly to include Saudi Arabia, Italy and Indonesia.

In the W20’s fifth year, and against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, an unprecedented global health crisis that has disproportionately impacted women and exacerbated gender inequalities, the group accelerated its efforts and challenged G20 leaders to use this opportunity to prioritize a gender inclusive economic recovery. The W20’s work over the past year culminated with the delivery of the W20 Communiqué, a series of actionable gender-inclusive policy recommendations that will be critical for recovery from the health, social, and economic crisis the world is currently facing due to COVID-19. The W20 welcomed the G20 Leaders’ Declaration issued last month, that reflected a number of W20 Communique policy recommendations in the G20 leaders’ commitment to lead the world in “shaping a strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive post COVID-19 era” which specifically recognizes the critical role of women in rebuilding global economies.

“It has been both an honor and a great responsibility to host the W20 during such a crucial year. Today, on International Human Rights Day, we are reflecting on the progress that the W20 continues to make toward women’s empowerment and gender inclusivity as we transition the presidency to Italy. Our work is far from done, and in the months and years ahead, we must keep women at the forefront of all decision-making. We look forward to working closely with the Italian delegation and are confident that they will continue to build on the W20 legacy,” said Dr. Thoraya Obaid, W20 Chair.

“I am honored to take on the role of Chair of the W20 Engagement Group in 2021, and I am looking forward to working with the Troika to continue the momentum set by previous presidencies, especially following the leadership of W20 Saudi Arabia 2020. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted women, they have shown their strength in many vital sectors which previously were not considered important. The W20 Italy will take on the challenge to ensure women are at the forefront of policies at global and national levels, and no woman is left behind,” said incoming W20 Chair, Dr. Laura Linda Sabbadini.

Facing unprecedented challenges due to the pandemic, the W20 convened its first virtual summit in October in order to share, innovate, accelerate, and inspire dynamic solutions to advancing women towards a more equitable future. By transitioning the W20 Summit from in-person to an online forum, the group was able to extend its reach to the largest and most diverse audience the W20 has seen to date, convening over 1300 people with registrants from 52 countries. The recordings of all summit sessions can be found on the W20 YouTube channel.

Throughout the year, the W20 Saudi Arabia worked with partners to conduct research and publish a number of reports such as, If Not Now, When? A Roadmap Towards a More Gender-equitable Economic Recovery, with Accenture Research, Women Entrepreneurs, An Action Plan to ‘Build Back Better’ in collaboration with ITC, ICC and UPS and Tackling Discriminatory Social Institutions to Pave the Way Towards Women’s Full Inclusion and Gender Equality in G20 Countries, with the OECD Development Centre.

Over the course of the W20 Saudi Presidency, Alnahda Society, this year’s host organization, held a series of National Dialogues in Riyadh, Jeddah, and the Eastern Province that were structured around the W20’s main focus areas: inclusive decision-making, labor inclusion, financial inclusion, and digital inclusion, with women’s entrepreneurship as a cross-cutting theme. The resulting report that is based on scientific evidence, international best practices, unique data sources and a participatory process, represents the diverse voices of women in Saudi Arabia and outlines a series of recommendations that Alnahda Society will work to implement to further women’s equality in Saudi Arabia.

As the W20 presidency transitions to Italy, Saudi Arabian representatives, including those from Alnahda Society, will remain involved through their participation as delegates of Saudi Arabia to the W20 and as part of the Troika to continue their critical efforts to empower women socially and economically.

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