G20 EMPOWER Holds First Side Event Creating a Safe Workplace for Women Post-Covid-19 Pandemic

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Jakarta, 29 March 2022 – Acceleration in creating a safe workplace for women is one of the priority issues discussed in the Group of Twenty (G20) EMPOWER of Indonesia’s Presidency. This is in line with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted from the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BDPfA) meeting 1995 and Brisbane Goals 2014. To address this issue, G20 Empower held the 1st Side Event themed “Creating Safer Workplace for Women Post Covid-19 Pandemic”, Tuesday (March 29).

Minister of Manpower of the Republic of Indonesia Ida Fauziyah stated that this event

is the right moment to discuss, share, and provide input in order to create a safer and better workplace for women, especially during a pandemic and digital disruption that puts women at greater risk to low wages from working in the informal sector with non-standard forms of work that are risky and unsafe.

In this regard, Minister of Manpower Ida Fauziyah said that the Indonesian government continues to encourage the G20 to promote equality and empowerment of women across the world through progressive interventions to reduce the disparity of women participation in labor force.

“Indonesia believes that advancing gender equality will drive inclusive and sustainable economic growth, especially for G20 economic development,” said Minister of Manpower Ida Fauziyah.

On the same occasion, Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection’s (PPPA) Deputy for Gender Equality Lenny N. Rosalin, stated in her opening speech that in addition to burden of care, violence also experienced a significant fold increase during the pandemic. Lenny quoted global data showing that cases of violence have increased by 31 million cases in the first 6 months of the pandemic and growing up to 15 million cases per quarter.

“This has become our common challenge considering that women participation in labor force is low, even before the pandemic. Global data shows that women labor force participation rates are at an average rate of 47%, far below men which are at 72%,” explained Lenny.

Furthermore, Lenny added that violence occurs massively in workplace during the pandemic both to women who work offline and online. Perpetrators may come from consumers and service users who feel uncomfortable as a result of disrupted services due to the pandemic. Superior and peer violence is also rampant in workplace.

“Discussions at this meeting must find practical and implementable solutions on how we build working situations and conditions which are supportive for women. It is important that this issue can be included in the G20 Summit output document, so that it can be adopted by all participating countries and most importantly, can be applied in companies and industries,”

Present as speakers at this hybrid meeting were Advocate of G20 Empower also Chairwomen of B20 Indonesia and CEO of Sintesa Group Shinta Kamdani; advocate of G20 Empower Italy from JLL Italy, Barbara Cominelli; Advocate of G20 Empower Indonesia from PT. Unilever Indonesia Tbk, Willy Saelan; and CEO of Infrastructure Australia as G20 Empower Delegate from Australia, Romilly Madew.

The second session saw the following speakers: Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs of Germany, Anke Jenckel; Istanbul’s Deputy Chairwoman of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya; WG Employment Indonesia, Anwar Sanusi; and Joint Secretary from Ministry of Women and Child Development of India, Aditi Das Rout. More than 100 participants attended the event coming from the United States, Argentina, Brazil, Australia, Canada, Mexico, Turkey, Indonesia, South Korea, Japan, China, Germany, UK, India, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Italy, Indonesia, France, Russia, and the European Union.

Meanwhile, Co-Chair of G20 EMPOWER, Rinawati Prihatiningsih stated in her remarks  that all discussion sessions in this event aims to further discussing how the government navigates challenges and opportunities to improve policies and regulations on women’s empowerment by creating a safer workplace, especially post global pandemic. This discussion also aims to identify how the G20 EMPOWER member countries can support and be directly involved collaboratively, both between the private sector and the government to support gender empowerment in the workplace, especially among female workers.

The first session discussed about the gaps related to indications of gender equality which is worsened during the global pandemic. The Covid-19 pandemic has had significant implications for women, especially in the workplace. According to an ILO report of 2021, during the pandemic, women face more significant difficulties, one of which is a higher risk of losing their jobs. In addition, there has been an increase in unpaid care work. Moreover, there is greater exposure to discrimination and violence in the workplace. In this first session, representatives of the private sector from Italy, Indonesia, and Australia shared good practices that support women to continue to work safely and comfortably during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Throughout 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic, around 41% women were working in high-risk occupations. The risks include the impact on job loss to reduced working hours. Meanwhile, the same data states that only 35% of male workers experience the same risk or impact (ILO, 2021). The crisis is also impacting how the state and the private sector can achieve gender equality in the workplace.

The second session discussed the regulations and policies taken by the government in Germany, Indonesia, Turkey, and India to increase women’s empowerment in the workplace during/post-Covid-19 pandemic. The identification from the World Economic Forum in 2021 states that it will take 276.6 years to achieve a balance in women’s economic participation and opportunities. For this reason, collaboration among various stakeholders is needed to minimize this gender gap.

The pandemic has further exacerbated the gender gap. This is shown, among other things, from the data that women generally spend 3 hours longer than men in doing unpaid housework. This condition then affects the exposure to stress levels and decreases mental health conditions, which then has an impact on the inhibition of increasing women’s economic empowerment.

Chair of G20 EMPOWER, Yessie D. Yosetya in her closing statement said, “Today’s panel discussion not only opened up challenges but also various ways to ensure that women have opportunity to continue to participate in their workplaces, both in private and the public sectors. We can see together that proactive action from private and the public sector is very important in ensuring women to have a safe workplace during the post-covid-19 pandemic.” Yessie expected that participants of the 1st Side Event G20 EMPOWER will be inspired to continue to take real actions to support gender equality. G20 EMPOWER is one of the initiatives in the G20 presidency that brings together alliance of leaders from private sector and government to jointly advocate and support women empowerment in leadership positions in the private and public sectors. The Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection together with Telco company XL Axiata and the Indonesian Women’s Business Association (IWAPI) are the focal points in promoting the importance of women’s leadership in the business world through the G20 EMPOWER. Through this alliance, Indonesia wants to promote good practices from companies and governments in promoting women’s leadership. Indonesia also has advocates from the private sector involved in promoting gender-based leadership roles in companies.

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