Historic declaration on gender equality to be made at the WTO

Tue 12 Dec 2017
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

wto gender declaration

An historic 'Declaration on Trade and Gender' could well be made this week at the 11th World Trade Organisation ministerial meeting in Buenos Aires.

The declaration – in part a result of the efforts of the Trade Impact Group (TIG) – would seek to promote a more inclusive agenda for trade, with measures to enable more women than ever before to participate in international trade.


The Institute supports the declaration

We at the Institute of course support this declaration. Lesley Batchelor OBE, our Director General and a tireless advocate for advancing women representation at the top of UK business home and abroad, said:

“We always welcome declarations like this, in the UK and in the international arena. Much more can be done to knock down barriers to women participating fully in international trade, and we join the WTO and other international organisations like UNCTAD and ICTSD in looking to do our bit to make this happen.”

Many developed and developing countries in the WTO – including the EU, Argentina, Canada and more – have declared their support for the declaration as well, according to the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development.

Much more to be done

Although it’s broadly understood that international trade and the forces of globalisation in recent decades have been a force for good in fostering greater gender equality all over the world, many highlight that this effect is not universal and more can be done.

Indeed, the Trade Impact Group was created as one of four ‘impact groups’ under the umbrella ‘International Gender Champions Geneva’ – a network of key organisations, policy and decision makers who gather to tackle gender barriers in trade.

Simonetta Zarrilli, Chief of the Trade, Gender and Development Section at UNCTAD, has said:

“Trade policy can indeed be used to tackle gender inequality, but it must be developed hand-in-hand with other economic and social policies. For example, upgrading women's education and providing on-the-job training are measures necessary for women to benefit from new opportunities offered by enlarged trade.”

 (Source: the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development<)

Robert Azevedo, Director General at the World Trade Organisation, has also said:

“WTO Action is needed to better integrate women into the international trading system. All the evidence suggests that giving an equal economic chance to women is not only economically important; it results in beneficial outcomes for society as a whole”.

(Source: The International Chamber of Commerce)


5 reasons this declaration matters

The International Chamber of Commerce have blogged 5 key reasons for their support of the declaration.

  1. Women business-owners who export offer more jobs
  2. Female exporters pay more than female non-exporters
  3. Female exporters are 3.5 times more productive than female non-exporters
  4. Female business owners use more digital solutions than male, but have less access to the internet in less developed nations
  5. Advancing female equality in trade could add $28 trillion to global GDP according to research by McKinsey



5 reasons why gender equality in trade matters – International Chamber of Commerce

Making trade work for gender equality: a Q&A with Simonetta Zarrilli – United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

Group of WTO Members Prepares Declaration on Trade and Gender – International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development

Lesley and Arne at the WTO

Lesley and our Young President Arne Mielken at the WTO earlier this year.