This time last year we were writing about a significant shift in global power that, at the time, looked like a very real possibility.
That shift, which seemed particularly likely after Theresa May took over the UK prime ministership in July 2016, would see the most powerful positions in the world being held by women.
But, things haven’t quite panned out that way, and 2017 is a very different world to the one we may have expected even just eight months ago.
Theresa May still holds the UK prime ministership, but only barely. And the UK is losing much of its status and influence as a global power player.
Hillary Clinton never featured on the world stage like she was expected to, after losing the US presidential election to Donald Trump.
One can now only imagine how different the G20 Summit may have looked over the weekend — and how different the result of the negotiations could have been.
Instead, it was was a usual game of ‘spot the woman’ — especially in the G20 family portrait, with just a tiny number of women present -– including Theresa May, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and IMF Chief Christine Lagarde.
And somehow, what it now means to hold ‘power’ involves an even stronger display of macho, aggressive behaviour than it has in many years – just watch footage of the ‘will they ever end?’ handshakes between world leaders.
The one woman who did stand out at the Summit (aside from Merkel who led the event in Hamburg) was Ivanka Trump. Although, the reasons why she stood out are not exactly positive or reassuring.
Why did she take a seat at a table of world leaders? This was the question asked by many, some even comparing her presence there, to what one might expect from a “banana republic”.
According to the White House, Ivanka took the seat in order to join a discussion on supporting more female entrepreneurs in Africa – apparently her area of focus.
Late last week, the Trump administration (following a reported push from Trump’s daughter), announced it would commit $50 million to the World Bank’s Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative. The World Bank has so far raised $325 million for the program, which aims to support mentorship, support loans and gender equality advocacy across the world. The program will mark the first time that the World Bank has aimed to address public policy in countries where men have more social and legal power.
This is a positive step. However, it must be acknowledged that this funding comes at the same time the Trump presidency has reportedly cut diplomacy and aid spending by 31%, and abolished a number of existing global programs.
So what else emerged from the Summit?
There was no statement on North Korea, much to the disappointment of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Trade negotiations were “especially tough” according to Merkel, due in large part to Trump’s “America First” policies.
Nineteen countries agreed to move ahead with their commitments on dealing with climate change, without the US. As Merkel put it: “The negotiations on the climate issue reflected dissent – everyone against the United States of America.”
And US President Donald Trump “cast a lonely figure” who was “awkward” and clearly had “no desire and no capacity to lead the world” as ABC political editor Chris Uhlmann’s editorial piece on the Summit noted. Uhlmann’s piece to camera has since gone viral, being described as one of the most “brutal reports on Trump” ever.
In the Women’s Agenda office this morning, we’re cheering Angela Merkel’s epic eye-roll, in response to what very much looks like ‘mansplaining’ from Vladimir Putin.
Even President Trump is impressed with Merkel, at least according to his twitter feed.
The #G20Summit was a wonderful success and carried out beautifully by Chancellor Angela Merkel. Thank you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 8, 2017