The Federal government has been busy preparing to host powerful global leaders at the G7 Summit in the Charlevoix region of Quebec tomorrow and Saturday, June 9th.
To get you up to speed, here’s a quick guide on everything you need to know ahead of the meeting. We also had the opportunity to sit with former Canadian model, actress, and founder of non-profit WomenOne Dayle Haddon to talk about some of the topics that will be top of mind for leaders this year. Haddon is one of 18 women on the 19-person Gender Equality Advisory Council compiled by Trudeau ahead of the G7, which also includes Melinda Gates and Malala Yousafzai.
What is the G7?
The Group of Seven (G7) is comprised of seven of the world’s advanced economies and includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. They meet informally once a year to talk about important issues affecting the world. The G7 countries hold 62% of the world’s net wealth ($280 trillion), as well as 32% of the global purchasing power parity GDP. Undoubtedly, the policy agreements made at the Summit will have a trickle-down effect on countries worldwide.
What Will They Talk About?
There are five key themes this year:
1. Investing in growth that works for everyone
2. Advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment
3. Building a more peaceful and secure world
4. Preparing for jobs of the future
5. Working together on Climate change, oceans and clean energy.
Woven throughout these five themes will be the importance of gender equality as the leaders work together to meet these goals. While the USA has historically been an integral leader in tackling these discussions, this year’s involvement can be described as precarious at best. Perceptions of the USA as a global leader have fallen as a result of Donald Trump’s rise to the presidency. Regarding promotion of gender equality, Trump’s track record is abysmal. At least 15 women have come forward to accuse him of sexual harassment, and lest we forget the infamous Access Hollywood tape.
Will another G7 leader step in to continue the fight? Is Canada a viable substitute to pick up the baton?
Trudeau is taking his title as a “feminist leader” very seriously. The Liberals have focused a significant portion of their third federal budget to helping Canadian women reach gender parity and pay equality at home. Though this is the 44th edition of the Summit, for the first time in history Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has compiled a Gender Equality Advisory Council to present recommendations that will guide heads of state as they discuss solutions to reach gender parity across the five themes. Dayle Haddon is one of the 19 who make up the advisory board and says private sector accountability and more investment in tech will be two of the major themes running through the Council’s recommendations next week. “If you’re not being represented, complete decisions can’t be made. In matters such as creating future jobs, we need help designing what that landscape looks like when gender parity is incorporated,” she says.
It comes as a shock to no one that the technology industry is somewhat of a “boys club.” A study on Canadian tech companies found that only five per cent of CEO roles were held by women, with only 13 per cent holding executive team positions. A shocking 53 per cent of tech companies had no female executives. If policies are not put into place to encourage more women to join the tech industry, which will be a powerful economic driver in the years ahead, this gap will only grow.
“If the majority of people working on future-shaping technologies like AI are male, what they are creating will have a male worldview, which only enforces the problem,” says Haddon. “We need growth that works for everyone, and to do that we need to increase girls’ education levels in the technology and AI industries so they have access to these new jobs of the future.”
The Gender Equality Advisory Council and Heads of State will call on private sector companies to step up and show what they’ve done to help solve this problem. “This issue is bigger than just resting on the governments’ shoulders. Private companies often wield major decision-making power in the world we live in. And if those companies are currently doing nothing to promote gender equality, they’ll be called out to explain why. Think of it as a ‘good housekeeping’ seal of approval,” says Haddon. She add that the Council will look to companies that are willing to publicly commit to achieving a gender-neutral board, equal pay, and equal leadership by 2020. “It sets a precedent when major companies stand up for these ideals, and if others don’t stand up they’ll be asked to explain themselves. There is a tipping point when enough agree that will change the new acceptable standards,” she says.
Haddon, for one, is optimistic in Trudeau’s ability to assemble the resources necessary to reach gender parity goals by 2030: “The leadership qualities that Prime Minister Trudeau is manifesting are extremely impressive. It’s like Canada is standing up,” she says. Haddon and others on the Committee are hopeful that this G7 Summit will set a new tone for gender equality around the world.