Women’s equal participation and representation in local decision-making processes is critical for the prioritisation of their differential needs and for localizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Women’s representation in local deliberative bodies is higher than in national parliaments, but there is still a lingering gender gap. Of the 6.02 million elected members in deliberative bodies of local governments only 2.18 million (36%) are women. This places women’s representation in local governments higher than in national parliaments (25%), although it is still nowhere close to parity. Only 20 countries have reached over 40% women in local decision-making bodies, and an additional 28 countries have women’s representation between 30% and 40%.


In order to truly empower women, enabling their role in leadership and decision- making at all levels of society is crucial. Studies have found that exposure to public and political representation increases women’s overall labour force participation, the share of public employment opportunities, and access to public amenities.


This is demonstrated in the exponential growth story of India. The Prime Minister’s vision of women-led development is reflected in various national flagship programs including Mission Shakti, Saksham Anganwadi and POSHAN 2.0, National Rural Livelihoods Mission, Jan Dhan Yojana, MUDRA, Start-up India, Skill India, etc. These programs have empowered women at various levels, including at the grassroots.


The G20 EMPOWER 2023 will pursue women’s empowerment under SDG Goal 5 as an overarching priority through the G20 work streams. To that end, one of the focus areas is : Partnerships to Promote Women's Leadership at all Levels.


Creating a global partnership for promoting women’s leadership is significant for:


  • Improving nutrition and health delivery
  • Promoting digital & financial inclusion
  • Increasing women's’s overall labor force participation and access to public amenities/resources
  • Promoting women in governance roles
  • Enhancing women's public and political representation


In the past, G20 countries have prioritized women’s empowerment through education and entrepreneurship. Under India’s Presidency, G20 EMPOWER 2023 will additionally highlight the role of grassroots leadership in increasing women’s voices in decision making. Promoting participation and leadership of women in Local Self-Governance, Self-Help Groups and at community is crucial for their empowerment. This can be a global roadmap for leveraging grassroots leadership towards holistic empowerment of women.
The way forward under India’s Presidency is to collaborate with the G20 members and guest countries to create a global partnership for promoting women’s leadership at all levels.