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The G20 Parliamentary Speakers’ summit, or P20, on Friday welcomed India’s recently passed women reservation bill that allots 33% seats for female lawmakers in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies, as global leaders expressed concern over the underrepresentation of women in national parliaments and focussed on steps to close the gender gap.
Lok Sabha officials said parliamentary leaders from around the world also praised India for its new Parliament building.
“We note with concern that globally women remain significantly underrepresented in national parliaments. As leaders in our parliaments, we commit to assessing and improving the level of gender sensitivity of our parliaments by taking steps to close any gaps identified through this process. In this context, we welcome the adoption of the Women’s Reservation Bill 2023 by the Parliament of India in September 2023. We also thank the United Nations and the IPUfor their efforts and affirm that gender equality and youth participation are essential for achieving the 2030 agenda,” the joint statement of the 9th P20 summit said.
The summit, held under the leadership of Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla, acknowledged and welcomed the women quota bill, which was passed by a special session of Parliament last month and was hailed by the government, even though many opposition leaders questioned the delay in its implementation.
The bill, passed with overwhelming majority in both Houses after hanging fire for nearly three decades, says the quotas will come into effect after the census and the next delimitation exercise. The latter is scheduled not before 2026.
The Congress has announced that if it comes to power in the 2024 general elections, the women bill will be implemented at the earliest.
In the joint statement, the P20 also committed to “equal access to education and professional opportunities, women’s entrepreneurship and leadership, financial and digital inclusion, as well as the enhancement of social, health care, and educational services” for women.
The summit’s statement also said that achieving the 2030 agenda (for sustainable development) is important and acknowledged “the essential role of parliaments in ensuring accountability for the effective implementation of its goals and commitments.”
“Towards this end, we acknowledge the role of international development cooperation, guided by the principles of equal partnerships; country ownership; initiatives tailored to national, regional and local needs and circumstances; and taking into account best practices and guidelines,” the joint statement said.
The P20 meeting, coming a month after the successful G20 Summit helmed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, reaffirmed the importance of promoting rules-based, open, transparent, fair, and non-discriminatory trading system.
The joint statement flagged the “persisting digital divide” amid digital technology’s rapid push across the world. The leaders called for “collective mobilisation of resources” to enable “inclusive, open, fair, non-discriminatory and secure digital economy.”
“We recognise the rapid progress made by digital technology in recent years in building an open and interconnected world through transforming conventional ways of conducting business and providing public services, which was especially visible during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, we note the persisting digital divide in technological transformation and call for collective mobilisation of resources which is essential for an enabling, inclusive, open, fair, non-discriminatory and secure digital economy,” the statement said.
The P20 called for harnessing artificial intelligence (AI) “responsibly for good and for all” and said AI should be leveraged “for the public good by solving challenges in a responsible, inclusive and human-centric manner, while protecting people’s rights and safety.”
“To ensure responsible AI development, deployment and use, the protection of human rights, transparency and explainability, fairness, accountability, regulation, safety, appropriate human oversight, ethics, biases, privacy, and data protection must be addressed,” the statement added.
The parliamentary summit of the G20 also emphasised on multilateralism. “Revitalised multilateralism to adequately address contemporary global challenges of the 21st century, and to make global governance more representative, effective, transparent, and accountable has been voiced at multiple fora. In this context, a more inclusive and reinvigorated multilateralism and reform aimed at implementing the 2030 agenda is essential.” it added.
Saubhadra Chatterji is Deputy Political Editor at the Hindustan Times. He writes on both politics and policies.
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