“As a woman, I have no access to finance due to a lack of a mortgage track record,” reports a Burundian woman who, since 2016, has been selling and exporting high quality maize flour and employs many people in her community. “As a result, I can't increase production,” she adds.

The lack of access to trade finance such as trade credit and guarantees is one of the main trade barriers raised by women entrepreneurs around the world. In the WTO Regional Surveys 2019-2020 covering South Asia, Latin America and East Africa, 49% of women entrepreneurs identified the lack of access to trade finance as a major obstacle to participating in trade. The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the financial situation of women entrepreneurs by exacerbating the finance obstacles and making trade even more costly.  Trade finance is therefore even more critical for recovery.

The WTO Gender Research Hub will shine a light on this issue at the first Think Up! session titled “Financing change: trade finance to women entrepreneurs' rescue” on 9 March. The International Finance Corporation (IFC) will present its research on women's access to trade finance. The African Trade Policy Centre of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) will report a case study on how women entrepreneurs access trade finance in Kenya. Gender experts actively involved in the field will also give their perspectives, providing comments and inputs to the research projects.

The Think Up! series is one of the WTO Gender Research Hub's multidisciplinary efforts to highlight research findings on trade and gender. By linking data and women's experiences , the Hub aims to enhance analysis and methodologies on trade and gender equality studies,  so that the issue becomes a more recognised field of research and expertise.

This first Think Up! will also lay the foundations for the 2022 work programme of the WTO Gender Research Hub, held under the overarching theme of “Recovery.” This theme will also be in the spotlight during the World Trade Congress on Gender, which will be the Hub's biennial research conference on trade and gender, taking place from 5 to 7 December 2022 at the WTO. Under the theme, “Gender Equality for Sustainable Trade and Recovery,” this conference will be the first global research event on trade and gender equality, gathering prominent trade and gender experts, government representatives, and members of academia and civil society to discuss and release new findings on trade and gender issues.

For more information, please see the full programme here or contact the WTO Trade and Gender Unit at [email protected].




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