WTO holds youth trade summit in Geneva to help 'next generation' of traders tackle gender issues

Fri 17 Nov 2023
Posted by: Phillip Adnett
IOE News

Dr Sangeeta Khorana presenting talk

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has held an event specifically aimed at helping young professionals deal with the issue of gender and trade.

Aimed at fostering the next generation of trade and gender experts, the Youth Trade Summit on Gender, held in Geneva, featured the launch of a new report, panel sessions with high-level speakers and networking events.

It was opened by Anoush der Boghossian, head of the WTO Trade and Gender Office and the founder and chair of the WTO Gender Research Hub.

The hub was launched in May 2021 and is a knowledge-sharing platform for those researching gender and trade.

“This is the first time the WTO is organising such a landmark event involving young people from all over the world. They have a crucial role to play in shaping nations,” said Xiangchen Zhang, WTO deputy director general, at the opening ceremony.

Report launch

The event saw the launch of the study ‘Investigating the Role of Youth in Gender Equitable and Inclusive Trade’, with keynote speeches from high-level government officials, such as Zhang and Spain’s trade minister, Xiana Margarida Méndez Bértolo.

Zhang said he hoped the WTO's upcoming Trade Policy Monitoring Report would showcase how governments are integrating gender equality into trade policies.

IOE&IT participation

Professor Sangeeta Khorana, chair of Institute of Export & International (IOE&IT) Academic Board, was invited to speak on the topic of the impact of digitalisation on female employment.

She discussed the influence on women's employment of how digital tools are adopted, particularly among exporting firms. Her presentation also examined the role of a manager's gender and the relationship between digitalisation and firm size, and its effects on female employment. 

“At the summit, I was inspired by the topicality and richness of discussions,” says Professor Khorana. “Engaging with global youth on pressing trade matters is not only timely but also a testament to the invaluable perspectives they bring to the table.

“The event showcased the diversity of ideas and the passion of the next generation in shaping the future of international trade. It's a reminder that collaboration, innovation and inclusivity are key drivers for a more dynamic and responsive global trade landscape."

Broader aim

The Youth Trade Summit is part of a broader effort to integrate gender perspectives into trade policies and research.

The Summit aims to promote engagement among young professionals in academia, research institutions and government on trade and gender topics. It aims to encourage dialogue between these young professionals, WTO member delegations, senior researchers and global stakeholders.

Henriette Gjaerde, IOE&IT trade policy and engagement lead, Geneva, said the launch of the report was of particular interest:

“We saw that the research group presented findings of best practice, which require more research. It would be interesting to see the impact of special labour and gender provisions in bilateral treaties. As these weren’t fully explored this time, there’s motivation to continue research in the field.”