All the best meetings happen in the kitchen

All the best meetings happen in the kitchen.

On Sunday evening, I found myself in the slightly bizarre but very privileged position as a W20 delegate* sitting in a kitchen of the beautiful and historical surroundings of the Societe d’Encouragement pour l’industrie National on Paris’ left bank eating sushi and listening to the French Minister of Education, JM Blanquer, talking fluently in English about the importance of skills for girls and women to navigate the digital economy. Many things running through my mind – first of all since I lived in Paris 20 years ago the language skills of Ministers have evolved exponentially (so looks like he’s practising what he’s preaching) possibly to tackle the challenging environment of multilateralism. The next and crucially is how much work there is to do to address the issue of gender inequality especially in the digital space and how every day is crucial in advancing this agenda from AI and programming to cyberbullying through to STEM skills (or a new term which I particularly like ESTEAM – Entrepreneurship, Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Medicine) and finally how fitting it is as so many women spend so much of their unpaid labour time in the kitchen that this is where we were meeting with our French hosts – the inspiring Jamais sans Elle campaign – took place!

Over the two following days, the W20 delegates were hosted by the OECD and our task was to start to prepare the W20 communique in the run up to the W20 Summit in Tokyo 22-24 March 2019. The discussions were challenging, the women passionate and their knowledge impressive. My intent is to continue to blog about the W20 and how we are working to progress women’s economic empowerment especially through the digital economy and women’s entrepreneurship over the coming months. So much excellent work is going on and much of it under the radar – which is often the way – to make a difference to policy and the working and economic lives of women. It’s crucial that we shine a light on this.

* I am a UK delegate to the W20* – official engagement group of the G20. The W20 has come a long way in the past 4 years and each country that has hosted the G20 in those years has built on the work of the others. For those who are not aware, the focus of the G20 is on the economic and financial development of their member states (some of the largest and most mature economies globally). To this end, the W20 hosted this year by G20 host Japan focuses on gender equality and women’s economic empowerment to overcome contemporary challenges within the global economy. The pillars of the W20s work include financial, digital and labour inclusion – with this year also a special focus on governance; accountability and measurement of progress.

If you are interested in knowing more about the work of the W20, please feel free to contact me.