WOMEN AND TRADE
“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,” DDG Ellard said at the closing session. “I'm so glad to see the WTO at the vanguard of work on such a significant topic.”
“The Congress marks the first time that we put in direct contact WTO members and researchers in the area of trade and gender,” DDG Ellard said. Civil society representatives also featured as speakers in the Congress and in the closing session. “I hope that you found the Congress useful in allowing you to exchange ideas,” DDG Ellard added.
“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,” she said. Her full speech is available here.
“Trade has the power to change women's lives for the better. I am convinced of this. But it works only if trade policies incorporate gender equality issues to level the trade field for women. This has yet to occur, inequalities persist, as indeed we learnt over the last few days of this Congress,” said Anoush der Boghossian, the Head of the WTO Trade and Gender Unit.
“2023 will be a pivotal year for the WTO. It will be a year of project development and to strategically head towards unexplored territories and topics,” Ms der Boghossian said.
She added that in 2023, the WTO Gender Research Hub will adopt a new two-year work plan, leading to the second edition of the World Trade Congress on Gender to be held in December 2024.
Ms der Boghossian announced that the WTO Gender Research Hub will also organise a youth symposium in November 2023 to develop the next generation of trade and gender experts. Her full speech is available here.
Olanike Olugboji, founder of the Women's Initiative for Sustainable Environment, one of the civil society representatives appointed as one of the five Congress Ambassadors, provided recommendations at the closing session. Gender issues should be mainstreamed into existing and future trade agreements, barriers to women's participation in trade such as lack of finance and disparities in education should be addressed, and more investments should be channelled into women-led climate initiatives and green enterprises, Ms Olugboji said. The WTO, she added, should demonstrate political will and take the lead on these action steps.
Anila Noor, founder of New Women Connectors, another of the five Congress Ambassadors, said the research and discussions on gender equality in trade seen in the past few days should be transformed into action. She urged the WTO to create a platform where civil society representatives would be able to exchange with WTO members and other WTO stakeholders on a regular basis, giving women in civil society a voice and a contribution to decision making.
Ms Olugboji and Ms Noor joined other civil society representatives — at the first plenary session on 5 December, titled “Women in Crisis: From Diagnostics to Solutions” — to provide perspectives from women community leaders on the frontlines of crisis response and disaster recovery.
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