Trading Stories

Experiences with Gender and Trade

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Through twenty regional and country case studies, Trading Stories pulls together the key links between trade, gender and economic development. Ten case studies focus on the gender impacts of trade policies, detailing differential consequences on men and women; and ten focus on linking women with global markets – including FairTrade, organic, niche and mainstream markets – through a range of best practices involving government, NGOs, people’s organisations and associations, private sector and international agencies.

The book draws on three recent Commonwealth Secretariat publications on gender and trade: Gender Mainstreaming in the Multilateral Trading System; Chains of Fortune: Linking Women Producers and Workers with Global Markets; and Gender and Trade Action Guide and is a useful addition to the growing body of evidence that will help governments to effectively mainstream gender in their trade policy.



Lessons Learned from Part One

There is a positive relationship in developing countries between women’s involvement in the economy, their contribution to the competitive dynamics of trade, and the growth and development of these countries. However, as the cases studies in this section show, it is unclear that the same positive relation - ship holds between trade performance and women’s overall economic and social empowerment. In general it would seem that trade intensification is quite beneficial to women. It creates employment that can improve their situation. However, increased trade and women’s employment on their own do not vitiate the persistence of gender inequalities and gender gaps with regard to access to and control over tangible and intangible resources. As noted by Litho (2007), in many African countries ‘on the contrary, women’s social position in society has not changed much. Women’s economic position may have improved slightly, but they remain culturally constrained.’ These inequalities and gaps tend to work to the disadvantage of women as a group relative to men as a group. Their existence and persistence also help explain why negative shifts in trade patterns and policies and overall trade liberalisationled reform tend to affect women more than men.


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