Caribbean Women in Trade launch

Statement by Rebeca Grynspan, Secretary-General of UNCTAD

Caribbean Women in Trade launch

17 May 2023

Dear Andrea Ewart, President of the Caribbean Women In Trade Interim Board,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Friends,

First things first – congratulations for the launch of the Caribbean Women in Trade network!

This is an important moment for the Caribbean, a region that simply cannot survive without its women and without its global trade networks.

Trade, when it is fair, when it is inclusive, when it is strategic, can be humanity’s greatest motor of development.

But trade reflects and replicates the inside structures of countries.

Commodity dependence, market volatility, entrenched corporate interest can also become a problem, if the trade we do does not reflect the society we want.

Throughout its long history, the Caribbean, perhaps more than any other region in the world, has seen and understood both the great perils and great promises of trade.

Today marks an important, sunny chapter in that history.

In all parts of the world, including the Caribbean, women and men do not participate in or benefit equally from trade.

And this is because, as I suggested before, the structures national and international are unequal to start with.

In developing countries, businesses involved in trade employ more women, who make around 33% of its workforce, compared to non-exporting firms, where women represent only 24% of the workforce.

This a good start but not sufficient because we want not only participation from women but “quality” participation.

This is why networks are so much needed.

Why what now is called “connectivity” is crucial.

Networks and communities allow us women to build critical mass, gather strong voices at the negotiating table, and overcome economies of scale.

The Caribbean more than ever needs to leverage its legacy of strong, entrepreneurial women.

Caribbean states are at the frontline of the climate crisis and its economic collateral, which is the growing debt burden.

But I am sure that together, as we open more and better opportunities for Caribbean women to engage in trade and in the politics and decision-making of trade, we can overcome this and many other challenges.

Because we want not only to do trade but to shape it.

So let me close by saying, considering myself a Caribbean woman, that I personally feel part of this network, that I think this is a very important initiative, and that therefore I wish you a wonderful and successful launch today.

Thank you.