WOMEN’S TRADE CAPACITY
Supporting the participation of women in international trade is one of its key components of the inclusive trade solutions many governments want to employ. Through Aid for Trade, the World Trade Organization (WTO) has been focusing on women with the aim of building their trade capacity and using trade as a tool for their development.
Past Global Reviews have highlighted a broad range of areas in which Aid for Trade support is effective.
Some of the results show $1 of Aid for Trade is worth $20 of exports. That dollar has a positive, although implicit, impact on women’s economic empowerment because Aid for Trade is a tool for women’s development. As the initiative matures its impact is becoming increasing clear.
Since 2011 Aid for Trade has increasingly focused on women’s empowerment and through the global survey – one of the WTO’s main monitoring processes – we have a better perspective on policy trends related to development and women’s empowerment.
Gender was specifically addressed at the 2011 Aid for Trade Global Review, which highlighted a virtuous circle of efforts to improve women’s economic empowerment through trade capacity building.
Launched at the 2015 Global Review, ‘The Role of Trade in Ending Poverty’, joint WTO-World Bank Group publication, analysed how trade integration can positively impact women’s economic empowerment. One strong conclusion was that high trade costs fell heavily on least developed countries (LDCs), particularly on their small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and also on women traders. This higher cost prices them out of international trade.
The 2015 Global Review also reported on impacts in female employment and examined how to include women into value chains and barriers facing women traders, especially in Africa.
Gender was a cross-cutting issue within the 2016-2017 Aid for Trade work programme. The latest edition of the Aid for Trade at a Glance report launched at the Global Review in July 2017 has a plethora of information and analysis on this critical issue. The report clearly highlights the divides that prevent women from fully reaping the benefits of international trade.
These divides still exist and persist: in accessing the information and skills needed to export; in accessing and using of technology for global and regional value chain integration; in owning and managing firms. These are divides that can and are being addressed by Aid for Trade programmes. Developing countries are making progress in integrating gender perspectives into trade and development programming.