Trade Policies Supporting Women's Economic Empowerment: Trends in WTO Members

This paper looks at the various trade policies WTO Members have put into place to foster women's economic empowerment. The analysis below is based on the information provided by WTO Members as part of their Trade Policy Review (TPRs) process from 2014 to 2018. Reports from the WTO Secretariat, governments as well as the question and answer sessions were examined for the purpose of this paper.

In the last 4 years, the trade policies of 111 WTO Members were under review. About 70% of them have reported at least one trade policy targeting women's economic empowerment. Overall, in four years, almost half of the WTO membership has implemented trade policies in support of women (at least one).

Most (about 70%) of the WTO Members2 under review have integrated women's empowerment in their national or regional trade strategy.

They focused their policy activity to three main areas or sectors:

  • Financial and non-financial incentives to the private sector and women owned/led Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs): 30% of members3 have focused their trade policies in support of women owned/led companies.
  • Agriculture and fishery: 15.5 % of members4 under review have included policies in relations with agriculture and fisheries in support of women's empowerment.
  • Government procurement: 9% of members5 under review have included policies in relations with government procurement in support of women's empowerment.

No: ERSD-2019-07

Authors: Anoush der Boghossian

Manuscript date: April 2019

Key Words:

Gender, international trade, women’s economic empowerment, trade policy, WTO, international trade rules, Aid for Trade.

JEL classification numbers:

F1 (F13 and F19), O1 (O19), Z0

back to top


This is a working paper, and hence it represents research in progress. The opinions expressed in this paper are those of its author. They are not intended to represent the positions or opinions of the WTO or its members and are without prejudice to members' rights and obligations under the WTO. Any errors are attributable to the author.

Download paper in pdf format (11 pages, 318KB; opens in a new window)