Gender and Trade

Trade and trade liberalisation have very different impacts on women and men - which can result in fundamental shifts in gender roles, relationships and inequalities. Moreover increasing claims that countries should be enabled to 'trade their way out of poverty' means that there is an urgent need to address how trade can promote gender equality and development. What policies are likely to have an effect on gender equality and how can such policies be influenced? How can development practitioners promote gender equality and better support women's access to the benefits of trade? This Cutting Edge Pack aims to support trade specialists in bringing a gender perspective into their work, and to help gender specialists to understand the broad implications of trade policy and practice. The pack is a concise and practical resource consisting of an Overview Report, a Supporting Resources Collection (summaries of key texts, case studies, tools and key organisations), and an issue of the bulletin Gender and Development In Brief

Gender and Trade Cutting Edge Pack - Overview Report

The general assumption is that trade liberalisation (the removal of barriers to cross-border trade) has equal impacts on men and women. However women and men are affected differently by trade due to their different roles in production and reproduction and to imbalances over control of land, power and resources. Since its inception in 1995, the agreements of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the accompanying policies at the national level have failed to acknowledge this gendered perspective. This Overview report looks at the impacts of trade on gender relations before going on to examine current approaches to gender and trade. It then evaluates work done to date on advocacy, impact assessment and trade-related issues such as labour standards and market access.

Recommendations from the Overview Report

This report calls for a rights-based and political economy approach to gender and trade issues.

  • Greater coherence is needed between the macroeconomic environment and processes at the national, sectoral, and micro levels, as well as between trade agreements and other international conventions and commitments to human rights, development and gender equality.
  • Gender analysis and perspectives should be systematically integrated into the trade policies of national governments and into TRCB programmes of international finance institutions (IFIs), bilateral donors and intergovernmental organisations.
  • The existing mechanisms (under, for example, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Trade Policy Review Mechanism (TPRM) processes) and tools (such as Sustainable Impact Assessments (SIAs), Gender Trade Impact Assessments (GTIAs) and Poverty and Social Impact Analysis (PSIAs)) should be used to monitor the gendered impacts of trade policies and agreements and to hold governments accountable for their commitments to gender equality and women’s empowerment.
  • The participation of women and gender experts in trade policy-making and negotiation processes should be promoted at all levels, and multi-stakeholder mechanisms should be established to reorient the trade agenda in support of a pro-poor and gender-aware development framework.
  • There is also a need to build on the momentum created by the global mobilisation against poverty – most notably around the MDGs – along with the opportunities offered by the DDA and the growing public support for fairer trade regimes (as evidenced in the ongoing debate over agricultural subsidies) and the increased participation of civil society and other stakeholders in trade arenas.
  • Multi-faceted and multi-level strategies, as well as strategic alliances between gender equality advocates and key stakeholders, should be developed to address the multiple dimensions of gender and trade issues at the macro, meso and micro levels in the different arenas.
Gender and Trade Cutting Edge Pack - Supporting Resources Collection

Over the past few years, greater understanding of the links between gender and trade has led to increased research and advocacy around the impact of trade policies on gender relations. Development policies and interventions at the macro, meso and micro levels are beginning to address the gendered inequalities that affect access to the potential benefits of international trade. This collection is made up of summaries of overviews, case studies, tools and guidelines and other materials relating to gender and trade. Details of how to obtain copies or download the full texts are provided with each summary. Materials are featured which look at trade policy, entrepreneurship and market access, employment and labour standards. The collection also includes a list of web resources and contact details of gender and trade networks and organisations.

Gender and Development In Brief ‘Gender and Trade’ – edition 17

In Brief is a six page newsletter that aims to stimulate thinking on a priority gender theme. This edition focuses on gender and trade, starting with an overview and recommendations followed by two distinctive case studies highlighting practical responses to key issues.

Research into the gendered impact of trade negotiations is central to advocacy work and development policies in this area. Supporting women's entrepreneurship in ways which acknowledge the gendered disadvantages faced by women are also an important step. This bulletin provides an overview of the debates and interventions around gender and trade. It also includes two case study articles: one describing the Women's Edge trade impact review and the second which looks at the work of the Ugandan Women's Entrepreneurs Association.