Co-chair Ambassador Ana Patricia Benedetti Zelaya of El Salvador said at the Working Group's first meeting of the year that the proposed work plan aims at further enhancing members' expertise in drafting gender-responsive trade policies. Ambassador Athaliah Lesiba Molokomme of Botswana and Ambassador Einar Gunnarsson of Iceland are the other co-chairs of the Working Group. In addition, the draft work plan seeks to make use of the Working Group's technical work to develop a concrete outcome on trade and gender at MC13.

“We are proposing to engage in conducting mapping exercises and collect evidence focusing on areas such as research, trade and gender policies, data collection processes and methods and capacity building programmes and initiatives,” Ambassador Benedetti said. "All this work is intended to broaden our horizon, knowledge and expertise," she added.

The 2023 work plan will complement the Working Group's four pillars of activities (sharing best practices on removing trade-related barriers to women's participation in trade; applying a “gender lens” to the work of the WTO; reviewing analytical work; and contributing to the Aid for Trade work programme for increasing women's participation in trade).

Ambassador Benedetti requested members to provide feedback on the work plan in the next two weeks and said she will hold consultations.

Members' presentations

Ecuador reported on its experience with the implementation of the She Trades Outlook, an innovative tool for evaluating and monitoring women's participation in international trade through quantitative and qualitative data. According to Ecuador, the initiative will bolster the actions it is taking to improve women's participation in international trade. “This includes specific gender-based chapters in our trade agreements, statistical information through the single window for small and medium businesses, activities to build technical capacity in the private sector, and training for government civil servants on public policy with gender aspects,” Ecuador said.

The United States gave a presentation on the use of intellectual property rights to empower women and people with disabilities, pointing out that patents, trademarks and copyrights can advance entrepreneurship by encouraging women to develop their ideas, to secure financing, to better market their inventions and innovations, and to negotiate access to the intellectual property rights held by others.

Members also heard about a research project from the Asian Institute of Management based in the Philippines, which studied women involved in tourism enterprises and outlined their challenges, including the gender wage gap, issues of confronting the “glass ceiling”, seasonal, informal, low-skilled and underpaid positions, and societal issues affecting women's participation in the economy such as domestic violence.

The WTO Secretariat and United Nations Conference on Trade and Development presented their respective training related plans for 2023. 




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