Gender Mainstreaming in Preferential Trade Agreements: An examination of the Evolution of gender Dynamics in International Trade
India - 10 November 2023
Preferential Trade Agreements (PTAs) have evolved from being primarily concerned with trade issues to addressing non-trade issues. Apart from focusing on issues like trade in goods, services, and intellectual property-related issues, modern PTAs, especially north-south PTAs, also focus on non-trade issues like labour, environment, gender, and anti-corruption. Earlier, gender issues were generally addressed as part of other chapters. Now, PTAs contain a standalone chapter that solely focuses on gender issues. The nature of obligations concerning gender-related issues is generally in the form of cooperation and dialogues. Barring the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement, gender chapters across PTAs mostly remain outside the scope of the dispute settlement mechanism established under the trade agreements. The inclusion of gender issues in PTAs is aimed at furthering the objective of inclusive trade as well as meeting the targets of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (UNSDGs) on Gender Equality. Against this background, this Working Paper undertakes a cross-country analysis of how gender issues are addressed at the WTO and in bilateral or regional trade negotiations. In particular, the Working Paper explores, first, the concept of gender mainstreaming in international trade; and second, provides an evaluation of how gender dynamics is played out in PTAs from the perspective of UNSDG 5 – Gender Equality. Additionally, the paper also highlights some of the challenges which deserve increased attention in the discourse of trade and gender in international trade.