UNCTAD launches tool to measure impact of trade agreements on women’s economic empowerment

There has been much debate and controversy on the point related to the positive or negative impact on the working lives of women that they would generate such international trade agreements as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), just naming some few.

To date, studies focusing on the liberalization of trade and its impact on women show no clear-cut positive or negative effects, and indicate that context is the major factor. That’s why UNCTAD suggests that the gender implications of trade reforms should be assessed on a case-by-case basis and launches with the support of the Government of Sweden the Trade Gender Toolbox.

The  Trade and Gender Toolbox uses data forecasts to conduct a gender evaluation that predicts the likely impact of a trade measure, prior to its implementation. This kind of gender analysis answers the question, ‘What would happen to women if a given trade policy were implemented?’.

“Establishing clear links between trade policy and overarching goals, including gender equality and women’s economic empowerment, will further contribute to making trade a driver for sustainable development,” said Simonetta Zarrilli, Chief of the Trade, Gender and Development Programme, UNCTAD.

“We have successfully tested the trade and gender toolbox methodology in East Africa, and we are now rolling it out to other countries,” said UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi.“Together we can make trade policy more gender sensitive, and pave the way for more inclusive prosperity that leaves no one behind,” he added.

First pilot test in Kenya

UNCTAD’s has piloted the Trade and Gender Toolbox to measure how the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the European Union and the East African Community may impact Kenyan women.

Results suggest that the implementation of the EPA is positive on Kenyan GDP, export and household income, but to a limited extent. Conversely, the effects are on average negative for the labor demand in the sectors that employ a significant percentage of the national female workforce, though such negative effects are small in magnitude. UNCTAD recommends that measures should be taken to minimize possible adverse effects on women after the implementation of the EPA.

The Toolbox will be launched tomorrow

This innovative instrument, sponsored by the Government of Sweden, that contributes to ensuring that trade plays its role as a tool for inclusive development and for the economic empowerment of women, will be launched tomorrow on the isdelines of Sixth Global Review of Aid for Trade.

The special event named ‘The need for the ex-ante gender assessment of trade reforms: The Trade and Gender Toolbox’ will be held on 11th July from 5:30 to 7 pm in room S2 at the WTO in Geneva, Switzerland

H.E. Ann Linde, Minister for EU Affairs and Trade, Sweden, Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General, UNCTAD, and Dr. Maria Masood, Economist, Trade, Gender and Development Programme, UNCTAD will take part at the event as speakers.

Image over the headline.- Scenes from the High Level Women Leaders Forum for Africa’s Transformation, co-hosted by the Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations, the African Union and UN Women ahead of the launch of the African Women Leader’s Network on 2 June 2017. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

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