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Tackling Gender Issues Through the Trade Lens

A Virtual Roundtable for a Global Exchange

Cross-border trade plays a significant role in boosting economic development. At the same time, there are many bureaucratic and administrative challenges, especially for women-traders. To shed light on this, a virtual roundtable on “Gender Issues in Cross-Border Trade” was organized in March 2023, featuring a panel of experts in the field.

The event aimed to:

  • raise awareness on the challenges faced by women in cross-border trade,
  • discuss practical solutions for addressing them in international development cooperation work,
  • and highlight the importance of gender mainstreaming in trade facilitation agreements and policy-level work.

The Importance of Trade Agreements to End Gender Inequalities

Ms. Naa Densua Aryeetey, Chairperson of the Trade and Gender Subcommittee of the National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC) in Ghana, shared some of her extensive knowledge from over 30 years of experience in the topics climate, trade, and gender

There are different impacts of trade on men and women due to their distinct economic roles. Therefore, Ms. Aryeetey emphasized the need for equal opportunities by mainstreaming gender in international trade facilitation agreements. She also underlined the importance of including government agencies, private sector, and civil society in the dialogue to advocate for the interests of all citizens.

Ghana established the Trade and Gender Subcommittee in 2021 with support from development partners to promote gender-inclusive trade agreements. Prior to the establishment of the subcommittee, development partners undertook regional and national gender assessments. The results showed that national trade policies were largely gender-neutral and that men had more representation in committees and organizations related to trade. The subcommittee has since been working with partners such as the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. It is the objective to address the challenges faced by women-traders and to incorporate the gender perspective prominently in the work of Ghana’s NTFC.

Furthermore, Ms. Aryeetey highlighted that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) includes a gender perspective in the agreement. The Protocol on Women and Youth aims to enhance the social and economic development of women in a sustainable and inclusive way. Recommendations from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) for more transparency, abolition of gender-based discrimination laws, and establishment of gender subcommittees were also discussed as ways to promote gender equality in trade.

Enabling Women-Traders With Concrete Measures

In the second part of the event participants gained practical insights into GIZ’s gender-related trade facilitation work. Concrete measures have already taken place under the umbrella of different projects and in different countries – with more to come.

The Trade Facilitation Project in Central Asia shared key take-aways from the “Central Asian Networking and Leadership Conference for Women in Trade“. This women-only conference aimed to provide a safe space for government officials as well as traders to speak openly about challenges and opportunities in everyday business. The forum received a lot of attention in the region: Recommendations were shared, including the need for education and support for women in trade. Besides, joint initiatives with other countries were discussed. It was highlighted that gender mainstreaming in trade agreements and addressing gender disparities in informal trade is of great importance.

A similar approach was taken in Ghana. In partnership with the Ministry of Trade and the Trade and Gender Sub-Committee of the NTFC, the German Alliance for Trade Facilitation organized the event series “Women in Cross-Border Trade”. The four events across the country aimed to raise the awareness of women-traders on required cross-border trading documentation. Relevant information on trade procedures is sought to enable women and thus unlocking the full scope of their entrepreneurial potential.

Overcoming Trade Barriers, Unlocking Economic Potential

National and international trade agreements play a key role in addressing trade barriers for women traders. Besides that, education and awareness are of high relevance. The virtual roundtable on “Gender Issues in Cross-Border Trade” is just one of many activities to further mainstream gender topics into trade facilitation work. To unlock the full scope of a country’s economic potential, it is of utmost importance to create equal opportunities for all genders.

The roundtable was jointly organized by the Trade Facilitation Project in Central Asia and the German Alliance for Trade Facilitation, both as part of the GIZ.