Enhancing Capacities of the Kingdom of Lesotho to Mainstream Gender in Trade Policy
Start Date 2010
End Date 2012
Beneficiary The Kingdom of Lesotho
Donor The Kingdom of Norway
The project seeks to strengthen the capacity of Lesotho to mainstream gender in trade policy and make trade policy more responsive to the specific needs of women.
Specifically, it aims to promote the capacity of policy-makers and trade negotiators to include gender considerations when formulating trade policy and negotiating trade agreements, in order to make trade instrumental to the achievement of gender equality and women's empowerment.
Such goals are included in Millennium Development Goal No. 3, in the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, and in the Beijing Platform of Action.
To achieve its objectives, the project will deliver a combination of advisory services, trainings, and sharing of information, ideas, best practices and analytical tools.
While the activities foreseen in the project will be implemented in Lesotho, the analytical findings and the lessons learned will be of relevance for the Least developed Countries in general.
Lesotho was selected on the basis of the following criteria:
  • It has included poverty reduction and the protection of vulnerable groups, including women, in its economic development strategy, as reflected in the UNDAF.
  • The Ministry of Trade and Industry is committed to gender mainstreaming in trade policy.
  • The UN Country Team in Lesotho undertook in 2009 to embark on a self-starter "Delivering as One" process.


 The study critically assesses the gender implications of Lesotho’s trade-led productive transformation, with a focus on the apparel sector.
The study highlights the multifaceted relationship between trade policy on the one hand, structural changes and productive transformation on the other, and their repercussions on patterns of employment for men and women. In particular, the rise - and subsequent relative decline - of Lesotho as a major apparel exporter to the United States well illustrates the strong correlation between trade policy, structural change in the economy, and shifting gender patterns.
The study highlights that Lesotho’s trade-led structural transformation has created opportunities for women’s empowerment and wellbeing through job creation in export-led sectors, but has also contributed to new patterns of inequality and vulnerability.
A “fact-finding” mission was carried in Maseru, Lesotho, in November 2011. The mission was conducted to gather “real-life” information and gain more in-depth and accurate insights into the gender effects of trade policies in Lesotho. The information was gathered through interviews with governmental officials, trade unions, business representatives and non-governmental organizations. The interviews were conceived as a qualitative enquiry into current market realities (particularly in the textile and apparel sector) that have a bearing on women. 
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