WTO to enhance women’s role in trade with Informal Work Group

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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The World Trade Organization (WTO) members have agreed to set up an Informal Working Group on Trade and Gender.

This step marks the next phase of an initiative to increase women’s participation in trade, which was launched in 2017.

Ambassador of Iceland, Harald Aspelund, who is the co-chair of the Trade Impact Group of the International Gender Champions (IGC), presented the proposal to set up the Informal Working Group of the WTO. The proposal, he said, stemmed from consultations with WTO representatives who expressed support for the follow-up to the commitments made in the Buenos Aires Declaration on Trade and Women’s Economic Empowerment.

The Buenos Aires declaration formed an initiative to eliminate challenges to the participation of women in trade and was backed at the 11th Ministerial Conference in 2017 by 118 WTO representatives and observers.

The Informal Working Group will share best practices among the members on enhancing the involvement of women in trade, to analyze and explain what a ‘gender lens’ is in the sense of international trade and to investigate how a gender lens could be usefully applied to the work of the WTO.

In general terms, the use of a gender lens shows how content and approaches are gendered, influenced by, conditioned by, or biased towards the views or experiences of men or women.

It will convene in the second half of 2020 for its first meeting and will set out a plan of activities and themes to be discussed in the run-up to the 12th Ministerial Conference.

“The Buenos Aires Declaration on Trade and Women’s Economic Empowerment has become a vital part of the WTO’s work to make trade more inclusive. Today marks an important new phase in moving this work forward on a continued transparent, collaborative and open basis,” Deputy Director-General Yonov Frederick Agah said at the meeting.