Trade facilitation through a gender lens: A South Asian perspective

Trade Insight, Vol. 17, No. 3-4, 2021

By Veena Vidyadharan

Furthering the objectives of the Joint Declaration on Trade and Women’s Economic Empowerment at Buenos Aires in 2017, the upcoming Twelfth Ministerial Conference (MC12) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) is expected to commit its members to mainstream a gender equality perspective in Aid for Trade programmes. It is also expected to mandate increased gender-dis aggregated data collection and assign the WTO Secretariat a role in coordinating trade and gender research, including on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women.

Trade liberalization policies have boosted the export sector of developing economies, thereby creating jobs, providing better wages, increasing access to education and technology, and providing other benefits for men and women. The classic case is of
Bangladesh, as it witnessed a significant increase in female employment in its labour-intensive export-oriented garment industries that extensively contributed to the country’s economic growth. The World Bank report reveals that women constitute 33.2 percent of the workforce of firms that trade internationally, compared with just 24.3 percent of non-exporting firms and 28.1 percent for non-importing firms.

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