IBSA Women’s Forum 2021 Calls for Economic Empowerment of Women
16 July 2021
Research Associate, RIS
In the run-up to the forthcoming IBSA Summit in 2021 to be hosted by India, the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India, convened the Sixth IBSA Women’s Forum Meeting virtually on 16 March 2021 along with the IBSA member countries. The Chair of the 6th IBSA Women’s Forum, Hon’ble Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani, Minister of Women and Child Development, India, led the deliberations and delivered the Inaugural Address. She highlighted how the year 2020 witnessed rights of women and girls gaining prominence all over the world. Ms Damares Alves, Minister for Women, Family and Human Rights of the Federative, Republic of Brazil and Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister for Women, Youth and People with Disabilities of the Republic of South Africa, expressed strong support for IBSA and shared their valuable perspectives on the subject. 
It may be noted, that IBSA (India-Brazil-South Africa) brings together large developing economies, located in three different continents. It is a distinctive international trilateral development initiative to promote South-South cooperation among these countries which was formalized way back in 2003. The Forum is committed towards inclusive development for the well-being of the citizens. All IBSA member countries are multi cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious democracies. This year in 2021 IBSA Summit is supposed to take place after almost a decade with renewed commitment for the partnership, particularly in a post-pandemic world under new geo-political realities. Inclusive social sector development has received highest priority in IBSA and the Women’s Ministerial Forum may be seen in that light.
Gender Issues in IBSA
The Declaration of the first IBSA Roundtable on Women’s Development held in Johannesburg in 2007, had highlighted the complex linkages between macro-economic policy, gender equality and poverty eradication and called for coordinated responses from the member countries to tackle these issues. This meeting was a landmark in the history of IBSA because it launched the IBSA Women’s Forum which recognized the participation of women in social, cultural and economic development in the respective countries. 
The subsequent IBSA Women’s Forum held in Brazil, 2010, recommended that the benefits of welfare and developmental schemes for poor households should be routed through women, as there are evidences that cash transferred to women is always spent on the welfare of the family and particularly for expenses related to education, health and nutrition. Emphasis was also placed on sharing successful experiences for fostering economic empowerment of women and ensuring gender equality. Later in 2011, at the Women’s Forum held in South Africa, it was again emphasized that this Forum should be considered as a most significant step in realizing IBSA’s vision of women economic empowerment and protection of their rights. 
The Women Ministerial Forum 2021 discussed the issues that have contributed in transforming the lives of women. Initiatives, policies, and best practices which the countries initiated for gender inclusive economy to transform and eliminate the gender-based discrimination and violence against women were highlighted. This in turn would help in understanding each member country’s systems, policies and programmes for women empowerment. Based on the understanding, they would be able to create a strategic roadmap to promote the gender equality agenda to achieve the SDGs. There was also emphasis on the need to raise meaningful voice on various multilateral fora to highlight the development priorities of the IBSA member countries and the forum stressed on presenting gender equality from an economic perspective
The Joint Statement
The Joint Statement of IBSA Women’s Forum 2021, , recognized that gender equality, particularly women’s economic empowerment, is critical in promoting economic growth, productivity, health, education and nutritional well being of women and children. There is need to stand united to accelerate the agenda of global gender equality. It is crucial that IBSA countries should undertake strategic initiatives towards promoting gender inclusive economies to eliminate gender based discrimination and violence against women and girls. Further, the Forum reaffirmed their commitment to work together through an IBSA think-tank on women’s development and for their empowerment by sharing best practices and strengthening cooperation for conducting women centric research for ensuring gender equality. [ 4]
It is evident that IBSA has nurtured a common approach towards gender equality and women empowerment through Women’s Forum. The Forum is committed to ensure socio-economic development of women. In this regard, there is immense potential in IBSA countries for achieving Sustainable Development Goal 5 by 2030 pertaining to gender equality in their respective countries. It is timely that IBSA makes concerted efforts to scale newer heights by empowering the women and girl child through direct linkages with communities to utilize local expertise and must collaborate to advocate for stronger international efforts through various multilateral fora.