DEPUTY DIRECTOR-GENERAL ANGELA ELLARD
Ladies and gentlemen
It is my pleasure and honour to close the first edition of the World Trade Congress on Gender. With more than 80 speakers and 15 sessions, this is the first time in the history of the WTO that we have held discussions on trade and gender of such magnitude. I thank all our participants as well as the Secretariat organizing team for making this event such a noteworthy success. I'm so glad to see the WTO on the vanguard of work on such a significant topic.
The discussions among participants on trade and gender themes have been intense and substantive. In this forum here at the WTO, we saw lively discussions, as well as new data and evidence introduced for the first time.
In particular, participants examined new analysis on the impact of trade agreements on women's marriage and fertility decisions, their intergenerational mobility, and their wages according to their marital status. Another piece of important research proposed a new framework for public-private dialogue to better integrate gender considerations in the negotiation of trade agreements and for their more efficient implementation. New analysis was presented on the inequalities associated with the process of digitalization, with a focus on gender digital inequalities, using agriculture as a case study sector. Finally, we learned of a new methodology proposed for collecting sex-disaggregated data on cross-border traders, to inform future work in this field and to improve policy making.
All of this shows how much progress we've made in how we approach the issue of trade and gender. But it also demonstrates the many gaps that still exist, both in terms of research on this subject and the need for women's economic empowerment more generally. We therefore have still a lot of work to do.
The Congress marks the first time that we put in direct contact WTO Members and researchers in the area of trade and gender. I hope that you found the Congress useful in allowing you to exchange ideas and build potential research partnerships.
In this regard, I would like to thank the WTO Gender Research Hub for its great contribution to the Congress and to the work of the WTO. I believe this network is a very useful driver of the progress we are making on gender at the WTO. We certainly need experts like you to deepen our understanding of trade and gender issues, and the support you provide to trade policy making, through research and data collection, is essential. Gender issues are vast and complex, and they relate to how societies have evolved throughout history. It is therefore crucial that we recognise women's consequential role in the economy and in trade. Women's economic empowerment is essential if we want to achieve the full potential of economic growth and sustainable development. It is a tool for development.
This event has demonstrated that the issue of gender is now deeply rooted in the WTO. Since the WTO started working on these issues six years ago, it has turned from a gender-blind Organization into a gender-aware one. Members have of course been at the centre of this transformation — from the launch of the Buenos Aires Declaration on Trade and Women's Economic Empowerment in 2017, to the creation of the Informal Working Group on Trade and Gender in 2020, to the multilateral recognition of the importance of women's economic empowerment and the work of the WTO on this topic at the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference this year.
I would like to thank Anoush and all WTO trade and gender team for supporting Members in their work and for bringing us all together this week. It would not have been possible without you. And the Director-General's commitment to gender issues is unquestioned. She is a woman of action, and she spurs us to do more.
We are heading towards a new year, new challenges, and a new Ministerial Conference. I would like to launch a call for action, a call to take a tangible leap in the work we do on gender. The upcoming 13th WTO Ministerial Conference may be the perfect opportunity for this.
And there is probably no better place to assess the progress we will have made in the next years than the second edition of the World Trade Congress on Gender, which is scheduled for December 2024. So, I invite you to mark your calendars!
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