Economic policies impact different segments of the population, including men and women, in different ways. In turn, gender inequalities impact on trade policy outcomes and economic growth. Taking into account gender perspectives in macro-economic policy, including trade policy, is essential to pursuing inclusive and sustainable development and to achieving fairer and beneficial outcomes for all.
UNCTAD plays a key role in ensuring that gender considerations are incorporated in a meaningful way in trade policies. Through its work programme on Trade, Gender and Development, UNCTAD supports its member countries in:
assessing the distinct effect of economic policies, especially trade policy, on men and women, boys and girls; identifying gender-based constraints that impede inclusive development; and devising strategies and policy measures to overcome them.
mainstreaming gender into trade policy through the inclusion of gender considerations in policy formulation and implementation, and in the negotiations of trade and other agreements at the multilateral, regional and bilateral levels.
The Maafikiano Mandate on gender-related issues
The Nairobi Maafikiano, adopted at the fourteen session of UNCTAD's Ministerial Conference (UNCTAD 14, Nairobi, Kenya, 17-22 July 2016), gives UNCTAD the strongest ever mandate on gender and more specifically on trade and gender. It requests UNCTAD to "continue its efforts in all its work to mainstream cross-cutting issues of gender equality and the empowerment of women…"(para 14(b)), in recognition of the fact that "gender equality and women's empowerment …are essential to all countries to attain sustainable and equitable growth and development" (para 14(a)). It recognizes that "economic growth has to be inclusive to ensure the wellbeing of the population. Inclusiveness …also requires close attention to horizontal inequalities, including gender inequality…" (para 40). It calls on UNCTAD to "Reinforce its work on the links between gender equality, women's and girls' empowerment and trade and development, and support member States in the design and implementation of policies and establishment of institutions that support women's economic empowerment, economic security and rights and enhance their economic opportunities (para 55(bb)). It recognizes that "Women play a critical role in development and contribute to structural transformation. Therefore, gender equality and empowerment of women and girls is essential to unlock this potential…Actions are required to address specific challenges to their equal and active participation in domestic, regional and international trade…" (para 73). Finally, the Nairobi Maafikiano emphasizes that "Effective implementation [of the 2030 Agenda] will require sound and coherent policy frameworks…, based on pro-poor, inclusive and gender-sensitive development strategies (Para 82).