ITC and SheTrades released a report that aims to help policymakers and trade negotiators create more inclusive accords and ensure that trade agreements produce more equitable opportunities.
ITC also launched SheTrades Outlook, a digital tool to track gender equality in trade and measure progress towards SDG 5 (gender equality).
The International Trade Centre (ITC) and SheTrades have released a report with ten recommendations to enhance women’s participation in free trade through free trade agreements. ITC and SheTrades also launched a digital tool to empower women’s progress in trade at the 2020 UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).
The report titled, ‘Mainstreaming Gender in Free Trade Agreements,’ provides a practical guide to help policymakers and trade negotiators create more inclusive accords and ensure that trade agreements produce more equitable opportunities. ITC assessed 73 selected free trade agreements among 25 Commonwealth countries. Forty percent of these agreements do not feature any explicit reference to gender considerations. Only 28 percent of these agreements use best practices to mainstream gender concerns, suggesting “considerable scope to improve.”
The report also highlights a lack of awareness that trade agreements can empower women and limited data that track the impact of women in business. Increasing negotiators’ awareness and gender expertise can help countries move towards gender mainstreaming in trade agreements, the report notes.
Better collection and analysis of data on women in trade enables policymakers to build more gender-just economies and boost progress in achieving SDG 5.
The report recommends: embedding gender provisions in the preamble of trade agreements; using reservations, waivers, and general exceptions; strengthening monitoring and dispute settlement mechanisms; and leveraging corporate social responsibility. Additional recommendations focus on highlighting access to skill development, encouraging research and impact assessment, establishing gender committees for monitoring, and offering enforcement remedies. The report provides ten model clauses to accompany the recommendations that policymakers and trade negotiators can use in crafting agreements.
ITC also launched SheTrades Outlook, a digital tool to track gender equality in trade and measure progress towards SDG 5 (gender equality). The tool aims to increase the competitiveness of women-owned businesses in international trade by providing quantitative and qualitative data on women in trade. SheTrades Outlook features 83 indicators across six policy areas: trade policy; business environment; legal and regulatory frameworks; access to finance; access to skills; and work and society. Users can view the overall policy ecosystem for women in trade in particular countries, compare across countries and regions, or click on one of the six pillars to view detailed indicator and sub-indicator data. According to the tool, South Africa, Mauritius, Rwanda, and Samoa are among the countries with leading policies to boost women’s economic empowerment.
SheTrades Outlook also shares examples of how individual countries have addressed barriers through national programmes and policies. The tool provides over 50 good practice examples of support for women in trade, from Cambodia’s gender-based analysis of trade agreements to Lesotho’s grants to support women in the creative industries.
ITC’s acting Executive Director, Dorothy Tembo, said “the tool helps overcome a long-standing barrier to making trade policies work for women – the lack of quality data.” She stressed that “better collection and analysis of data on women in trade enables policymakers to build more gender-just economies and boost progress in achieving SDG 5.”
ITC is a joint agency of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the UN. ITC developed SheTrades Outlook under the ITC SheTrades Initiative, which aims to connect three million women to international markets by 2021. UKaid supports SheTrades. [Publication: Mainstreaming Gender in Free Trade Agreements] [Publication Landing Page] [ITC Press Release] [She Trades Press Release on Report] [She Trades Press Release on SheTrades Outlook]