Mainstreaming Gender Considerations in Free Trade Agreements: “Building Back Better” in Post-COVID-19 World

Mexico - 7 September 2020

Trade topics: Gender and Trade

A contribution to the Policy Hackathon on Model Provisions for Trade in Times of Crisis and Pandemic in Regional and other Trade Agreements:

COVID-19 has put women employees, women entrepreneurs and women consumers at the frontline of this struggle. The limited gains made in the past decades in respect of achieving gender equality are at the risk of being rolled back as the pandemic is deepening the pre-existing inequalities. The post-pandemic world will require multiple interventions to repair this harm at domestic and international levels. One such intervention could come from international trade law and policies. In particular, free trade agreements (FTAs) can play an instrumental role in “building back better” in the post-COVID-19 world. Through FTAs, countries can encourage their trade partners to create laws and procedures that can allow women to participate in trade and commerce. This is not a new realization. In the recent years, we have witnessed a sharp increase in the number of FTAs mainstreaming gender considerations. This paper will explore how FTAs can accommodate gender considerations and contribute in building back an inclusive economy in the post-COVID-19 world.