Whistler G7 Finance and Development Ministerial Highlights: Health and Gender Equality Commitments

A CanWaCH G7 Update

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From May 31 to June 2, 2018, G7 finance and development ministers met in Whistler, BC in advance of this week’s G7 Leaders’ Summit in Charlevoix, Quebec. Gender equality and women’s empowerment, including several commitments to health-related interventions, were the overarching themes of statements issued following the joint finance and development ministerial meetings:

There is significant alignment and synergy between CanWaCH policy objectives and the G7 finance and development ministers’ declarations. In particular, both the Whistler Declaration on Unlocking the Power of Adolescent Girls for Sustainable Development and the Whistler Declaration on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Girls In Humanitarian Action contain relevant policy commitments to gender equality and health. For example, as advocated by CanWaCH, G7 ministers’ declarations issued on June 2, 2018 emphasize:

  • Prioritizing integrated, life-cycle, rights-based approaches;
  • Promoting and protecting adolescent health and well-being, through evidence-based health care and health information;
  • Ensuring that adolescent girls benefit from healthy diets and micronutrients required to support their development;
  • Promoting “system-level change, and ensuring that humanitarian action is principled, evidence-based, and empowering, and recognizes that interventions to meet basic needs include access to education, health care for girls, and the prevention and response to gender-based violence.”
  • Promoting and piloting integrated approaches that support the rights and needs of adolescent girls across a number of sectors including health and nutrition
  • Strengthening women and girls’ access to health care by funding and monitoring the implementation of the full range of internationally-agreed standards of humanitarian health response in crises;
  • Using evidence, including disaggregated data, to drive decision-making to improve impact and cost-effectiveness by developing clear metrics early on and measuring progress against milestones on an ongoing basis to help identify the most effective innovations and the remaining gaps; and,
  • Increasing the voice of adolescent girls, collaborating across sectors and stakeholders “to confront discrimination and social and institutional barriers that prevent adolescent girls from realizing their rights and inhibit progress across all areas of development.”

Highlights of the G7 Whistler development ministers' statements and commitments from a health and gender equality perspective are identified below. While there are several health-related policy commitments, there are no specific funding commitments or tangible targets in terms of reach and impact. An announcement with funding commitments from G7 countries is expected at the Charlevoix G7 Leaders’ Summit June 8-9, 2018.

HIGHLIGHTS:

Whistler Declaration on Unlocking the Power of Adolescent Girls for Sustainable Development, June 2, 2018

Focus on adolescent girls, gender equality, integrated ways of working, life-cycle approaches 

  • In the Whistler Declaration on Unlocking the Power of Adolescent Girls for Sustainable Development, G7 humanitarian and development ministers acknowledge that: “Gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls is an objective in and of itself. It is also essential for contributing to effectively and sustainably eradicating poverty worldwide …” 
  • “We must approach the rights and needs of girls and women in an integrated way, across their life-cycles, from infancy to adulthood to old age. While adolescence represents a critical and promising period that can propel girls forward as agents of change, the specific needs of adolescent girls remain largely unmet.”
  • “When countries invest in adolescent girls, they invest in a demographic dividend that will benefit them for decades to come.
  • “When empowered with the knowledge, skills, social networks, opportunities and services to succeed in life, and make informed choices, adolescent girls tend to marry later, bear children later, and have better health and economic outcomes for themselves leading to stronger, inclusive and more prosperous countries.”

What did G7 ministers commit to do for adolescent health in the context of long term development efforts?

G7 ministers “will” adopt “integrated approaches to our support for adolescent girls, including in humanitarian, fragile and conflict settings, to address the multiple barriers to empowerment, inclusion and opportunity.”  These integrated approaches include:

  • Preventing and responding to sexual and gender-based violence including child, early and forced marriage, female genital mutilation/cutting, violence in schools, and sexual exploitation and abuse;
  • Promoting and protecting adolescent health and well-being, through evidence-based health care and health information;
  • Ensuring that adolescent girls benefit from healthy diets and micronutrients required to support their development;
  • Supporting access to appropriate sanitation and hygiene products and services;
  • Promoting and piloting integrated approaches that support the rights and needs of adolescent girls across a number of sectors including health and nutrition.

In the Whistler Declaration on Unlocking the Power of Adolescent Girls for Sustainable Development, ministers also agreed to measures to increase the voice of adolescent girls, and to collaborate across sectors and stakeholders “to confront discrimination and social and institutional barriers that prevent adolescent girls from realizing their rights and inhibit progress across all areas of development.”

The Whistler Declaration on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Girls in Humanitarian Action, June 2, 2018

Focus on women and girls, system-level change, acknowledging basic needs include access to health care

  • In the Whistler Declaration on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Girls in Humanitarian Action, G7 development ministers “recognize the importance of advancing gender equality in all our humanitarian activities and actions by specifically addressing the needs of women and girls.”
  • “Women and adolescent girls are powerful agents of change; they are leaders. They must be recognized as such and have an equal voice and representation in making decisions on issues that affect them.”
  • G7 ministers pledged to work together and with their partners to promote “system-level change, and ensure that humanitarian action is principled, evidence-based, and empowering, and recognizes that interventions to meet basic needs include access to education, health care for girls, and the prevention and response to gender-based violence.”

What did G7 ministers commit to do for the empowerment of women and girls in humanitarian action?

  • Strengthen women and girls’ access to health care by funding and monitoring the implementation of the full range of internationally-agreed standards of humanitarian health response in crises;
  • Urge humanitarian partners to integrate gender equality and women’s empowerment in their programming  including by pursuing gender analysis, collecting disaggregated data, and consulting and including affected women and adolescent girls’ voices to shape their responses;
  • Work with heads of humanitarian agencies and their executive boards to make gender equality an organisational priority in humanitarian action;
  • Strengthen prevention and response to gender-based violence (GBV) in crises; and,
  • Enhance the utilization of research and evidence to improve the impact of humanitarian assistance on gender equality.

The Whistler Declaration on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Girls in Humanitarian Action announced that Canada will host a high-level meeting in 2019, ahead of the Women Deliver 2019 Conference in Vancouver, to review progress in addressing gender equality in humanitarian action. 

The Whistler Principles to Accelerate Innovation for Development Impact, June 2, 2018

In The Whistler Principles to Accelerate Innovation for Development Impact, G7 ministers responsible for humanitarian action and development pledge “to encourage path-breaking ideas and actions for inclusive and sustainable development that leaves no one behind”. These ideas and actions include “improvements to service delivery, products and policies beyond those currently available, and to new partnerships and funding modalities, including public-private cooperation.” 

As part of their commitment to innovation, G7 countries agreed to “work together to drive change in their own organizations and with partners to “encourage new models and  solutions that can deliver results.” 

The G7 ministers responsible for humanitarian action and development assistance endorsed eight principles to accelerate innovation for development impact.

  • Promote inclusive innovation, with a focus on supporting the poorest and most vulnerable to have lasting development impact. Gender analysis is valuable in this regard. Women and adolescent girls, including those with disabilities, should play a decisive role in the design, testing, learning and adoption of innovative solutions, and should be engaged as both recipients of innovation and by supporting them with tools and resources as innovators;
  • Invest in locally-driven solutions and support and encourage local innovators and their partners in developing countries, including by sharing talent and resources from global networks with them;
  • Take intelligent risks by experimenting and using rigorous data, while ensuring that we do no harm, and investing more boldly once initial steps yield stronger evidence of the demonstrated impact and financial viability through proof of concept;
  • Use evidence, including disaggregated data, to drive decision-making to improve impact and cost-effectiveness by developing clear metrics early on and measuring progress against milestones on an ongoing basis to help identify the most effective innovations and the remaining gaps;
  • Seize opportunities to learn quickly, iterate and ensure the impact of promising innovations before scaling them up by also acknowledging failure and inefficiencies;
  • Facilitate collaboration and co-creation across public, private and civil society sectors and coordinate the application of scientific, technical, social and business innovations to leverage intellectual, financial and social resources from all, and share data, standards, results and learning widely;
  • Identify scalable solutions, including technologies, that demonstrate high potential to achieve and sustain significant impact and cost-effectiveness, and open the potential to reach millions of people in need in developing countries; and,
  • Integrate proven innovations into organizations’ larger programming by removing the internal and external barriers to using these solutions in current and future projects, and support the acceleration of growth and impact of proven innovations. 

The Whistler Declaration on Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in International Assistance, June 2, 2018

In the Whistler Declaration On Protection From Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in International Assistance, G7 development ministers commit that their governments will work together and with their partners to strengthen the  “national and international system’s ability to protect individuals from, and respond to, sexual exploitation and abuse in international assistance.” 

Ministers pledged to deliver on their commitment zero tolerance approach to sexual exploitation and encourage other governments to do the same.

G7 ministers will continue their collaboration to advance commitments to end sexual exploitation and abuse, including through the participation of their governments at the upcoming international conference on tackling sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment, in London, UK on October 18, 2018.