IX. The Way Forward
Including gender perspectives in trade policy and related agreements is an essential element of an integrated development policy framework which combines social and economic measures to ensure fairer and beneficial outcomes for all. Trade can have strong and varying effects on the overall wellbeing of different groups of economic actors, including women, which require adequate and specific policy responses.
While trade policies need to become gender-responsive, other measures not directly related to trade are also necessary if both women and men —and the economy as a whole— are to reap the full benefits of trade expansion. These include education, employment, fiscal and social policies, and, above all, policies that enhance productive capacities. Women’s education and continuing skills acquisition are likely to be the most important factors determining the impact of trade on women’s economic opportunities and on reducing the gender wage gap. As long as women remain less qualified than men, they are likely to remain in lower paying, less secure jobs, even if better-paying jobs become available through trade expansion. Improving women's access to education, technology and skills, on the other hand, implies a change in attitudes and in socio-cultural norms, as well as a more equitable distribution of household chores between men and women; moreover, it cannot happen without addressing the "time poverty" issue.
Two common shortcomings should be avoided when mainstreaming gender in trade policy. First, - the "adding-on" shortcoming - consists of making gender considerations an after-thought; in other words, gender-differentiated impacts of trade policy and trade agreements are evaluated once the most crucial phases of trade policy formulation and negotiation are already completed. The second - the "evaporation" shortcoming - consists of discussing and assessing gender- related issues during trade policy formulation and negotiations but failing to include concrete measures in the core of trade agreements and trade laws.
The United Nations supports governments and civil society organizations to undertake actions to enhance the inclusion of gender perspectives in trade policies. The following is a non-exhaustive list of examples of these actions divided into two main categories, namely Gender equality policies and Women's Empowerment: