DEPUTY DIRECTOR-GENERAL YONOV FREDERICK AGAH

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Ambassadors,
Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning.

I am delighted to be with you today. Your work on trade and gender is extremely important. Women’s empowerment is at the heart of building economies that are more economically prosperous and socially inclusive. The Buenos Aires Declaration has become a vital part of the WTO's work to make trade more inclusive.

The Declaration has raised awareness about the important role that trade can play in empowering women. Because of your follow-up work —such as thematic workshops to exchange views on best practices and national experience — the Declaration has already helped us better understand how and why trade impacts women.

I am happy to hear that the report summarising those best practices has been finalised by Members and will soon be issued. It will serve as a useful guide for integrating gender considerations into countries’ trade policies, programmes and initiatives.

The influence of the Buenos Aires Declaration has extended beyond workshops and specific events. For example, we see that Members are increasingly using the Trade Policy Review process to share their gender-related trade policies. In addition, women's economic empowerment is a growing part of Aid for Trade and development strategies.

Within the WTO Secretariat, we are also doing our homework on trade and gender. As you are all aware, we now have a dedicated trade and gender Focal Point who leads this work and has engaged in a number of activities.

We have developed a training module on trade and gender that has been integrated into the ITTC programme for government officials. This module has been rolled out in training activities since 2019, and will be further developed to integrate new research on the issue.

Since 2018, the WTO has gathered data and statistics on gender parity in the WTO on an annual basis.

All this work has been carried out in line with the objectives of the Buenos Aires Declaration.

Today marks an important new phase in moving this work forward on a continued transparent, collaborative and open basis.

Your efforts are timely. The available evidence suggests that the trade-related disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic are having a disproportionate impact on women. This is because women are typically overrepresented in services such as travel and tourism, as well as manufacturing sectors such as footwear and apparel, and telecommunications products, that have seen the sharpest falls in demand.

An open and predictable trading system has an important role to play in fostering a robust and inclusive economic recovery from the pandemic. But we cannot build back better without women.

The Secretariat and I stand ready to assist you to the fullest extent possible.

Thank you.

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