Move to introduce ‘gender inclusivity’ at WTO

Amiti Sen Budapest | Updated on January 08, 2018

India has given ‘positive feedback’ on the initiative

Waking up to the need to enable more women to participate in international trade, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and a group of member countries are making efforts to get a joint declaration on gender and trade to be adopted at the Buenos Aires Ministerial meet in December.

“Essentially, the declaration is about raising awareness about the link between trade and gender and a desire to exchange best practices on how to ensure more women participate in international trade,” said Arancha Gonzalez, Executive Director, International Trade Centre, in an interview with BusinessLine.

The proposed declaration has been initiated by Iceland, Sierra Leone and the International Trade Centre (ITC), a joint agency of the WTO and the United Nations.

Already endorsed by 40 member countries, the declaration asks members to exchange best practices that would happen over the next two years so that a report could be submitted to the next Ministerial meet two years down the line on the progress in connecting more women to international trade.

“I have been talking to Trade Ministers in various countries who all say that gender inclusivity is important to them. We need to make this importance visible to the rest of the world and catalyse action towards more inclusive trade,” Gonzalez said.

A report released by McKinsey Global Institute in 2015 finds that in a “full potential” scenario in which women play an identical role in labour markets to that of men, as much as $28 trillion, or 26 per cent, could be added to the global annual GDP by 2025.

While 40 countries, including Argentina, Canada and the European Union are already supporting the initiative, several others, including India, are thinking about it.

“I spoke to the former Indian Trade Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and other Ministers at the BRICS meeting in Shanghai in August. I got very positive feedback. In fact, India said that it is the policy of the Indian government to empower women including through international trade,” Gonzalez said.

The proposed declaration will not be part of the formal Ministerial Declaration in Buenos Aires and is proposed to be adopted separately.

‘SheTrades’ initiative

ITC is also part of another initiative ‘SheTrades’ to encourage women in business

“The ‘SheTrades’ programme aims to connect one million women entrepreneurs to markets by 2020 with a campaign, a focussed networking app and a range of international and national information resources,” Gonzalez said speaking at a session on the role of women in trade at the two-day World Export Development Forum 2017 in Budapest.

Launched last year, the initiative has already spread to 14 countries and has 10,000 registered members.

(The writer is in Budapest at the invitation of International Trade Centre)

Published on October 26, 2017

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