“If we are going to make trade and development policies more gender-responsive, a first step is to improve our understanding of how these issues intersect with trade policies in key areas,” DG Azevêdo said. He pledged that the WTO would continue working to improve the availability of data in this area, together with partner organizations. 

His message was part of the opening session at the workshop convened by Canada, with the participation of specialists in the field, representatives from international organizations and WTO members.

The organisers held the workshop to build on the Buenos Aires Declaration on Trade and Women’s Economic Empowerment. This initiative, launched at the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference in December 2017, has been endorsed by over 120 WTO members and observers. They pledge to share best practices for conducting gender-based analysis of trade policy and to cooperate on methods and procedures to collect gender-specific data, amongst other actions. 

“Canada is making efforts to align its public policy in support of gender equality, and this includes trade policy,” said Stephen de Boer, Canada’s ambassador to the WTO, as he opened the day-long workshop. “We see the WTO as an ideal forum to have a broad exchange on how we can all leverage trade in support for gender equality.”

“We are on the right track,” said Yvette Stevens, Sierra Leone’s ambassador to the WTO. “We need to spread these experiences.” She welcomed the information shared during the event, and called for more country-specific considerations.

“Trade does not have a gender, but it has a strong gender impact,” added Ambassador Syed Tauqir Shah, of Pakistan. He called for better data on these impacts as a way to “concretize this declaration”.

The WTO is collaborating with the World Bank on generating new data and studying the understanding of the impact of trade on women. The joint study, due to be published in 2019, will look at data gaps on the relationship between gender issues and trade, review current literature and generate new data on the topic.

During the workshop, economists and policy-makers shared their methods for gathering and studying data on how gender and trade intersect — from women’s participation as entrepreneurs and workers to their role as consumers. Many of the studies presented pointed to the fact that, in general, women-owned businesses export less than companies owned by men. A number of speakers also referred to data showing the benefits of increasing the participation of women in trade.

“Women-owned businesses that export are on average more than 3.5 times more productive” than female-led companies not engaged in international markets, noted Arancha González, Executive Director of the International Trade Centre.

This was the first of a series of workshops which proponents of the Buenos Aires Declaration pledged to hold over the coming months, tackling different aspects of the intersections between trade and women’s economic empowerment.




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