Speaker, at SRC Roundtable - Women's Day 2022, on UNCTAD’s Declaration on Gender and Development

Mexico - 8 March 2022

Trade topics: Gender and Trade

The Shridath Ramphal Centre organised a Roundtable on Women's Day 2022; it was focussed on UNCTAD’s Declaration on Gender and Development.

The questions addressed during this discussion were:

1. Is there a unique skillset or perspective that women bring to trade and trade negotiations? Why is gender and trade such an important topic for not only women but for everyone?

2. A survey from the International Trade Centre revealed that, “only one in five exporting firms are led by female entrepreneurs and that women-owned or managed exporting firms are less likely to engage in imports compared to their male counterparts”. Overall, findings suggest that far fewer women are engaged in international trade than men. Against this backdrop, what are some of the barriers that women (especially young women) face in trade?

Follow up: Can trade agreements address some of these barriers, and if so, how?

3. Throughout the UNCTAD Declaration on Gender and Development there is repeated mention of “gender justice”: what does this term really mean in the context of trade and development today? Is there a gender justice agenda that extends beyond gender sensitive trade-polices?

4. According to the declaration “the world’s women are demanding a radical restructuring of multilateralism and the global political economy to ensure that the benefits of the world’s resources accrue to the majority and not the few” - I want to spend some time addressing what this radical restructuring would like and the tools needed to achieve the goals outlined in the declaration.

5. Digital trade/e-commerce has been touted as an available avenue for the economic empowerment of women, primarily due to its ability to overcome time and mobility constraints that women often face when having to balance family life and work life. However, the Declaration speaks to the growing digital divide where women around the world lag behind men in their access to modern technologies. How can we close this divide in order to better integrate women into the international trade landscape?

6. How has the pandemic affected women in trade and are there any lessons to be learnt for the better integration of women into the international trade landscape, and in this discussion, I’d also like us to address the relevance of remote working policies in this regard.