Empowering Women In Trade

Trade facilitation requires sensitisation to the additional demands women face in overcoming endemic inequalities.

In 2021 the Alliance published Gender Mainstreaming Guidelines as a blueprint for its commitment to tackling structural inequalities experienced by women in trade and to emphasise the importance of breaking down barriers perpetuating disadvantage.

The guidelines emphasise the importance of sensitising our work to be as inclusive as possible. As a result, women's participation in Alliance-led public private dialogues increased by 30% in 2022, with forward momentum continuing.

Practical, gender-sensitive actions can support equality in trade facilitation projects. Based on industry best practice and first-hand knowledge gathered during projects, we recognise that trade reform is rarely gender neutral.

The Alliance is committed to involving women and women’s groups at every stage of a project to better understand their challenges, believing there are concrete actions that can empower women entrepreneurs, traders, and employees.

These may range from scheduling meetings at convenient times and places to providing flexible training opportunities to maximise participation. The Alliance is determined to ensure gender inclusivity in all of its projects, entailing among other things:

  • consultation with relevant stakeholder groups representing women
  • analysing the effects of projects on men and women
  • a focus on capturing information based on gender differences in mixed-gender situations.

The guidelines emphasise genderCambodian woman entrepreneur awareness and sensitivity in describing, monitoring, and evaluating project milestones and progress, to ensure the realisation of expected benefits and to apply mitigation measures where potential outcomes appear unequal.

These guidelines not only represent a statement of intent: the Alliance is putting them into practice in every project and will continue to do so in the future, measuring and sharing results.

Cambodian woman entrepreneur, Sopha Seong

“The world can be very complicated, and trade can be very difficult,” she said. “When it comes to finding the right information, some MSMEs just can’t reach out – they are in mid-ocean. These changes will help everyone.”

- Sopha Soeng, founder and General Manager of Sela Pepper, an MSME participating in an Alliance initiative in Cambodia. 

"WEConnect International is thrilled to be partnering with the Alliance to shape their trade facilitation initiatives in a way that tackles women’s challenges to trading cross-border. Our joint focus on driving trade for small and women-owned businesses makes us natural partners in this space.”

- Elizabeth A. Vazquez, CEO and Co-Founder, WeConnect International

“The Alliance has made a significant impact in implementing the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, driving positive change by streamlining customs procedures, promoting digital solutions, and empowering MSMEs, including sensitising the needs of women traders."

- Stephan Bethe, Head of division trade policy, German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, BMZ

Gender Mainstreaming Guidelines
TFA through a gender lens
Gender Sensitising Trade Facilitation
Study: Three Continents, Similar Challenges