Women and Trade

In honour of International Women’s Day, TradeLab is excited to announce its two projects on Gender and Trade being carried out for the International Trade Centre (ITC) in Geneva by the University of Ottawa and Queen’s University Joint Clinic. These projects are supervised by Professor Debra Steger (University of Ottawa) and Professor Valerie Hughes (Queen’s University). The Joint Declaration on Trade and Women’s Economic Empowerment was endorsed at the WTO Ministerial Conference Meeting in Buenos Aires in December 2017. It acknowledges, among other things, that “inclusive trade policies can contribute to advancing gender equality and women’s economic empowerment, which has a positive impact on economic growth and helps to reduce poverty.” The 118 WTO members and observers who supported the Declaration affirmed their commitment to “effectively implement the obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women” and agreed to collaborate on making their trade and development policies more gender responsive in a number of ways.

Buenos Aires Declaration at the WTO's 11th Ministerial Conference (Image courtesy of the World Trade Organization)

The ITC hopes that the Ottawa/Queen’s projects will produce results that will assist WTO members to implement key goals of the Declaration. The Queen’s project focuses on the enhancement of women entrepreneurs’ participation in public procurement. It will examine public procurement models and tools used in a number of countries with a view to assessing their strengths and weaknesses for promoting bidder diversity and inclusivity of specific groups. The Ottawa project is dedicated to helping to remove barriers for women’s economic empowerment and increase their participation in trade. It will include a “stocktaking” of governments’ best practices for gender-inclusive trade policies and gender-mainstreaming approaches for small business, including laws, regulations, and trade agreements. The Ottawa/Queen’s Gender and Trade reports will be useful for developing and developed countries wishing to make their trade laws and policies more responsive to women’s economic empowerment. They will also provide ideas for the negotiation of gender chapters and other gender-sensitive provisions in future trade agreements. These reports will be made available publicly.

Prof. Debra Steger with uOttawa students working on the Gender and Trade Project (above).

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