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22nd Feb 2024

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Incorporating gender in trade policy to benefit all

  • Samira Rafaela MEP. To understand how trade can better benefit women, Renew Europe has launched a position paper on gender and trade (Photo: Samira Rafaela)

As former commissioner for trade Cecilia Malmström rightfully addressed, we need to empower women through trade.

By capitalising on gender equality efforts in EU policies, we have the chance to make sure trade does indeed benefit all and inclusive growth is possible.

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The first steps are taking place, for example by including gender provisions in the EU-Chile trade negotiations. To understand how trade can better benefit women, Renew Europe has on Monday (12 April) launched a position paper on gender and trade.

The EU's trade policy has the potential to empower women in areas where they cannot reach the same potential as men based on their gender.

To achieve this goal, understanding the various roles women have in trade is vital.

Entrepreneurs, employees, consumers

Women are entrepreneurs who manage their own business, they are employees at companies, and women are consumers. Considering these roles in trade through a gender lens leads to a more inclusive trade policy and better gender-mainstreaming of EU policies, such as the upcoming due diligence legislation.

As international research shows, countries that engage with international trade tend to have more gender-equality than less open economies. Trade policy is thus a powerful tool to create opportunities for women, if used properly.

Research also shows that women entrepreneurs have less access to finance than their male counterparts do.

This leads to fewer opportunities on the global market for their businesses.

Additionally, women have limited access to digital solutions and skills development, making them less innovative and competitive. This development is worrisome, as the digital transition will be key in the next decade.

To move forward, the EU can take a few steps.

A direct contribution is possible by incorporating a gender perspective in trade policy, and collecting gender-disaggregated data to understand how trade benefits women.

Including specific gender chapters in our agreements can function as a stepping stone for data collection, as well as providing a platform to discuss gender matters with our partners.

Furthermore, focussing on specific areas such as SMEs, digitalisation, and e-commerce can be particularly advantageous for women.

Gender-mainstreaming of aspects of trade policy can help women benefit from international trade at the same level as men. This will build a more resilient global value and supply chain, lead to more competitiveness on the world market, and eventually more gender equality.

Incorporating a gender perspective in the EU's trade policy can function as a means to enhance the effectiveness of our trade agreements to the benefit of all - a crucial aspect of our post-Covid recovery.

Gender and trade policy paper

Author bio

Samira Rafaela is a Dutch MEP for the social-liberal political party D66, and part of the Renew Europe Group. She leads the position paper of Renew in the European Parliament on gender and trade.

Disclaimer

This article is sponsored by a third party. All opinions in this article reflect the views of the author and not of EUobserver.

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