women and trade

Informal Working Group on Trade and Gender

The Informal Working Group on Trade and Gender brings together WTO members and observers seeking to intensify efforts to increase women's participation in global trade. It was established on 23 September 2020 as a follow-up to an initiative launched at the Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires in 2017, known as the Joint Declaration on Trade and Women's Economic Empowerment.

The Group aims to share best practice on removing barriers to women's participation in world trade, to exchange views on how to apply a “gender lens” to the work of the WTO, to review gender-related reports produced by the WTO Secretariat, and to discuss how women may benefit from the Aid for Trade initiative.

Participation in this Informal Working Group is open to all WTO members. The initiative is chaired by Botswana, Iceland and El Salvador.

News

Background

In the margins of the WTO's 11th Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires in 2017, 118 WTO members and observers endorsed the informal Buenos Aires Declaration on Trade and Women's Economic Empowerment. This initiative seeks to foster women’s economic empowerment through their participation in international trade, by focussing on experience and best practices sharing and workshop discussions. Since 2019, 120 WTO members and 7 observer governments support the Buenos Aires Declaration.

On 23 September 2020, the Buenos Aires participants created the Informal Working Group on Trade and Gender (WT/L/1095/Rev.1) in the WTO, the ultimate outcome of the Buenos Aires Declaration.

The first objective of the Informal Working Group included crafting and adopting a new Declaration on trade and gender at the WTO 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12).  On 1 December 2021, the "Joint Ministerial Declaration on Gender Equality and Women's Economic Empowerment within Trade" was published (WT/MIN(21)/4/Rev.1) and is currently supported by 121 WTO Members.

The MC12 Declaration is the first formal Declaration on trade and gender equality in the WTO. This Declaration gives members a clear mandate to act in four key areas, that are instrumental to move gender equality in trade forward. The MC12 Declaration also establishes for the first time a formal process to report back annually in the General Council and at the WTO 13th Ministerial Conference. Through this process, the MC12 Declaration further institutionalises gender issues in the WTO. It will be adopted at MC12 in 2022.

Work of the Informal Working Group

The Working Group’s Work Plan is based on four pillars:

  • sharing best practices and exchanging views on removing trade-related barriers to women's participation in trade
  • considering the scope for a “gender lens” to be applied to the work of the WTO
  • reviewing analytical work undertaken by the WTO Secretariat
  • contributing to the Aid for Trade work programme as a means of increasing women's participation in trade.

Meetings on the four pillars were completed in July 2021. Since then, members have focused on developing an MC12 outcome document on trade and gender. Nineteen WTO members, four international organisations and the WTO Secretariat have formed the “Friends of Gender Group" to work towards a draft outcome document for the 12th Ministerial Conference.

Documents submitted by WTO members

Date

Member

Title

Document number

13 April 2022

Botswana, El Salvador and Iceland

Draft schedule of meetings for 2022

6 December 2021

The Russian Federation

Communication from the Russian Federation on joint ministerial declaration on the advancement of gender equality and women's economic empowerment within trade

22 October 2021

Mexico

Mexico's recent work on trade and gender

14 October 2021

Botswana, El Salvador, Iceland

Draft schedule of meetings for 2021

30 April 2021

Botswana, El Salvador, Iceland

Proposal for a framework to deliver an ambitious ministerial outcome on trade and gender for MC12 and beyond

29 March 2021

Canada

Final work plan for implementing activities under the Informal Working Group on Trade and Gender

3 Feb 2021

Canada

Revision of Draft Work Plan for implementing activities under the Informal Working Group on Trade and Gender

11 Jan 2021

Australia

Australia Experiences with Gender-Related Practices and Processes

21 Dec 2020

Canada

Draft work plan for implementing activities under the Informal Working Group on Trade and Gender

Meetings of the Informal Working Group

Forthcoming meetings

Draft schedule of meetings — January — July 2021 (INF/TGE/W/2/Rev.2)

/

Date

Topic

Organizer

Documents

28 October 2021

Informal Working Group on Trade and Gender

Iceland, Botswana and El Salvador

23 September 2021

Informal Working Group on Trade and Gender

Iceland, Botswana and El Salvador

16 July 2021

Informal Working Group on Trade and Gender

Iceland, Botswana and El Salvador

23 June 2021

Informal Working Group on Trade and Gender

Iceland, Botswana and El Salvador

28 Apr 2021

Informal Working Group on Trade and Gender

Iceland, Botswana and El Salvador

26 Feb 2021

Informal Working Group on Trade and Gender

Iceland and Botswana

10 Dec 2020

Launch of the report: Delivering on the Buenos Aires Declaration on Trade and Women’s Economic Empowerment.

Other items will be discussed during this meeting.

Iceland and Botswana

Meetings

2021

  • 23 September
  • 16 July
  • 23 June
  • 28 April
  • 26 February

2020

  • 10 December

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