Trade policies often have a strong redistributive effect, both across economic sectors and among individuals. They can create opportunities for women's empowerment, and can also create burdens as they disrupt markets in which women operate. This is why the gender perspective should be included in the design and implementation of trade policies.
As a United Nations entity, UNCTAD has both the responsibility and the expertise to play a key role in ensuring that gender concerns are incorporated in a meaningful way in macroeconomic policies, including trade policy.
The Doha Mandate on gender-related issues
Under the overall Policy Analysis, Paragraphs 8 of the Doha Mandate lists gender equality and women's empowerment among the goals which are essential to all countries to attain. Under Sub-theme 3, in the Policy Analysis section, Paragraph 51 states that "the empowerment of women is of crucial importance, among others for harnessing the potential for inclusive growth and development".
It calls upon the international community to tackle obstacles to women's empowerment, including gender bias and income inequality, through appropriate measures.
In the operative section of Sub-theme 3, para 56 calls on UNCTAD to "Continue its work in the area of agriculture in the context of commodities to help developing countries achieve more sustainable and strengthened agricultural production, food security and export capacity. This work should take into account the needs of small-scale farmers, and empowerment of women and youths".
(sub-para i). Moreover, "…UNCTAD should… Reinforce its work on the links between gender equality, women's empowerment, and trade and development, without prejudice to other programmes"
The current focus of UNCTAD's work on gender equality and women's empowerment include the following priority areas:
- Supporting developing countries to integrate gender considerations in their trade policy formulation and implementation, and in the negotiation of trade and cooperation agreements.
- Supporting developing countries to setup an enabling environment for women entrepreneurs.
UNCTAD's work on gender mainstreaming goes beyond trade policies, as it strongly contributes to the inclusion of gender considerations in other sectors such as technology, innovation and entrepreneurship policies.
Work is conducted through:
- Analytical activities on specific trade, gender and development-related issues.
- Capacity development and technical cooperation.
- Intergovernmental dialogue