WOMEN AND TRADE
The draft MC12 outcome document, prepared by the “Friends of Gender” group comprising 19 WTO members, four international organizations and the WTO Secretariat, contains draft recommendations for WTO members to continue work on increasing women's participation in international trade. Based on these recommendations, members intend to include women's economic empowerment issues into the regular work of WTO bodies, improve the impact of Aid for Trade on women by mainstreaming gender considerations into programmes and strategies, increase data collection, and coordinate research.
The recommendations are based on draft objectives and technical work conducted by the Working Group from January to July, when members and observers reported on the implementation of a wide range of policies that could serve as solutions to overcome obstacles faced by women in trade. This work covered trade policy areas such as data collection methods and tools and the assessment of the impact of trade, trade policies and trade agreements on women. It also covered the promotion of female entrepreneurship and capacity building. All of these areas are summarized in the draft MC12 document.
The draft includes the recommendation to continue work on the basis of the Buenos Aires Declaration and the four work pillars of the Informal Working Group. It also recommends building a work plan towards the 13th Ministerial Conference and further analysing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women. In addition, it proposes to include a reaffirmation from members that trade has a role to play in women's economic empowerment.
Co-chairs Ambassador Athaliah Lesiba Molokomme of Botswana, Ambassador Ana Patricia Benedetti Zelaya of El Salvador, and Ambassador Harald Aspelund of Iceland noted that the meeting on the MC12 draft outcome document signalled the progress the Working Group has made since it was established a year ago. “On this day, last year, we jointly and openly decided to move our work on trade and gender forward and institutionalise it in the WTO, while keeping it based on the objectives of the Buenos Aires Declaration on Trade and Women's Economic Empowerment,” they said.
Several members made suggestions to improve the text and the drafting process. Two drafting sessions will be scheduled in October, with the goal of finalizing a text in the same month.
Members also heard updates from the WTO Trade and Gender Focal Point on the new WTO technical assistance programme on trade and gender dedicated to government officials. A new schedule of training for 2022 comprising six sessions is planned. Members were also informed that the call for participants will be launched in November 2021, with the first course to be delivered in February 2022. The training strategy presentation is available here. Information on other WTO activities is available here.