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Development Account Projects

Enhancing capacities of developing countries to mainstream gender in trade policy

Background:

Trade policies often have a strong redistributive effect both across economic sectors and across individuals. They can create opportunities for women's empowerment as well as burdens as they disrupt markets in which women operate. That is why the gender perspective should be included in the design and implementation of trade policies. By assessing the gender implications of trade policies, policymakers can direct them to facilitate women empowerment and well-being, while at the same time avoiding the increase in disparity between men and women. Gender mainstreaming in trade policies is being paid increasing attention in many multilateral technical assistance programmes, such as the Enhanced Integrated Framework for Least Developed Countries.

In February 2003, the Inter-Agency Working Group on Women and Gender Equality set up the Task Force on Gender and Trade, with UNCTAD leading the Task Force. The Task Force brings together FAO, ILO, OHCHR, UNDP, UNEP, UNIDO, UNIFEM, the regional commissions, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization. It is open to new members willing to participate. The Task Force has carried out analytical work and continues to raise policymakers' awareness of the gender impact of trade liberalization.

As a United Nations body, UNCTAD has both the responsibility and the competence to take a leadership role in ensuring that gender concerns are incorporated in a meaningful way in macroeconomic policies, including trade policy. UNCTAD has been conducting analytical and intergovernmental work on gender and trade policy since early 2000. It published two studies on the issue, namely, mainstreaming gender in trade policy (TD/B/C.I/EM.2/2), which provides the intuitions behind the relationship between trade policy and gender; and mainstreaming gender in trade policy: case studies (TD/B/C.I/EM.2/3), which tackles the trade and gender linkages by presenting seven case studies. The two studies were presented at an intergovernmental meeting held on 10 and 11 March 2009 in Geneva. The Accra Accord requests UNCTAD to "Strengthen its work on the linkages between trade and internationally agreed development goals and objectives, including the Millennium Development Goals, including poverty reduction and gender equality".

Certain activities will be carried out in cooperation with the other agencies that are members of the Task Force on Gender and Trade, in particular with UNIFEM. The activities will address and target policymakers in ministries of commerce and equal opportunities; policymakers at the subnational level; negotiators of multilateral, regional and bilateral agreements; women's business associations and women's groups; bilateral and multilateral donors.

The United Nations has recognized that gender equality is both a core value for sustainable development and a prerequisite for poverty elimination. With the Charter of the United Nations, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Beijing Platform for Action, the Millennium Declaration, the 2005 World Summit Outcome and the outcomes of major United Nations conferences and summits and their follow-up, the United Nations has developed an internationally accepted analytical framework and action plan for gender equality.

Objective:

To strengthen the capacity of Governments of developing countries to mainstream gender in trade policy and make trade policy more responsive to the specific needs of women.

Expected accomplishments:

  • Gender analyses are taken into account in the formulation of trade policy in the developing countries involved in the project
  • National capacity to undertake data analysis and impact assessment on the interlinkages between trade, globalization and gender is strengthened
  • Economic sectors where trade liberalization can be associated with rising employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for women are identified at the national and/or regional levels

Implementation status:

The policy recommendations included in the country-case study of Cape Verde are informing the formulation of the DTIS (Diagnostic Trade Integration Study) review; and the new strategy for economic growth and poverty alleviation (Activities 1.2 and 3.1).
The findings of the country case studies of Bhutan and Cape Verde are contributing to informing policy debate on trade and gender. Specifically, the main findings of the studies were shared at the High-level Event on "Women in Development" organized within UNCTAD XIII Ministerial Conference (Doha, Qatar, April 2012) (Activity 2.3) and have fed into the post-2015 process, through the Global Thematic Consultation on Inequalities.
The High-level Event at UNCTAD XIII provided the opportunity to sensitize the donor community on the relevance of supporting trade and gender-related activities (Activity 3.2). As a result, a new UNCTAD project on trade and gender got financial support.