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World Emma Watson among advisory group calling on G7 for progressive feminist laws

Emma Watson in Columbia Pictures' 'Little Women.'

Wilson Webb/Columbia Pictures / Sony

Actress Emma Watson and Nobel laureate Nadia Murad will join other women’s rights activists on Sunday to urge powerful world leaders at the Group of Seven (G7) summit in France to usher in laws empowering women and end those that harm them.

Watson, Murad and women’s rights leaders from more than 20 countries have identified nearly 80 “good practices” in gender equality law pertaining to violence, economic empowerment, education, health and discrimination.

The nearly 40-strong Gender Equality Advisory Council will press their case to the Group of Seven member countries, which include Germany, France, the United Kingdom, the United States, Japan, Italy and Canada, at their annual meeting.

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“The Council expresses great concern about the persistent, and even growing, threats and backlash against girls’ and women’s rights in many countries,” it said in recommendations published this week ahead of the summit.

The council, formed in 2018 under then-G7 leader Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and renewed by French president Emanuel Macron, also condemned “the considerable responsibility of some political leaders in this step backwards.”

Watson, a fellow advisory member who has been a vocal advocate for women’s rights as a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador and active member of Time’s Up, has used her star power to galvanize public discussion on gender equality.

“The G7 Gender Equality Advisory Council has a simple first step for #genderequality: Ditch discriminatory laws and adopt laws that lift up girls and women,” the “Harry Potter” star wrote on Instagram to more than 51 million followers.

The council’s recommendations call on G7 countries to make political and economic advances for women within their own countries but also a centrepiece of foreign policy, encouraging other countries to follow suit.

The G7 countries comprise more than 10% of the world’s population and over 40% of its wealth.

“We have the evidence that a gender equal world is healthier, wealthier, more productive and more peaceful,” Katja Iversen, the president and CEO of Women Deliver told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on Thursday.

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“We call on them not just to do it right in their own countries, but to use their political and financial power to push the rest of the world.”

Iverson pointed to past successes such as Rwanda’s 2003 decision to implement a 30% quota on female elected officials as a progressive move with lasting effect. Today the government is over 60% female.

The council’s recommendations also call on countries to address physically and economically harmful practices like child marriage, inheritance laws that prevent men leaving wealth to their wives and weak domestic violence laws.

Its call to action implored leaders not only to usher in new laws, but to see them enforced, measure their progress and be transparent about the results.

Macron’s official recommendation to G7 leadership will be for each country to adopt at least one new progressive law by next year, a bar Iversen hopes to see exceeded.

“We’re seeing progress, but also pushback, and we need to push back against the pushback,” she said. (Reporting by Kate Ryan. Editing by Chris Michaud

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