Global Trade for Women at Work
By admin April 1, 2019

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Gender and trade gained attention at the 63rd UN Commission on the Status of Women session. United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Deputy Secretary-General Isabelle Durant said that trade affects men and women differently due to the distinct roles each plays in our economies and societies. Trade policies have to account for gender-specific outcomes that could widen inequalities between men and women instead of alleviating them said Durant.

Many women occupy jobs that generate low-income and access to economic mobility can be harder for women because of societal barriers. Female voices cannot be discounted, and that is why nearly 200 feminist organizations, networks and their allies from civil society around the world formed the Gender and Trade Coalition. A letter written to express disappointment at the World Bank Group, the WTO, and the Government of the Netherlands, underscored that voices of women from the global South have already been, and stand to be, the most adversely affected by the current trade policies and are essential to ensuring that trade does not exacerbate inequalities based on gender, race, caste, age, disability and other systems of oppression. They want trade to contribute to the fulfillment of women’s human rights and safeguarding the global environment for this and future generations.

Stephanie Barrientos, a professor of global development at the Global Development Institute at the University of Manchester studies the intersection between gender dynamics and global trade. Professor Barrientos discusses the importance of global value chains to promote gender equity. Tracking and traceability allow consumers to know more about the sourcing of materials and manufacturing processes in the global value chain. Women play a critical role in agriculture and apparel, putting them in jobs working in fields or garment factories doing hard work earning, little wages with less security.

Pressure from civil society, trade unions, NGOs, and consumers has led to improvements in terms and conditions for women workers. Women working for the agro-industrial company Les Domaines Brahim Zniber in Morocco, received better wages, access to healthcare, a nurse-staffed clinic, improved safety, and ensured access to toilets and regular meal breaks after collective organizing. To achieve this the women protested, marched, had sit-ins to stand up for their rights. In 2007, the Democratic Labor Confederation (CDT) and Solidarity Center launched training to enable women to understand their rights and improve their conditions. The presence of women at the negotiations created space for them to address specific issues such as pregnancy and becoming managers.

Accelerating the progress for gender equality and the other Sustainable Development Goals requires alliances and collaboration of all the actors in the value chain suggested Professor Barrientos. It is not enough to have statements written about gender equality and inclusion if women do not have access to meaningful participation. Women’s rights are human rights, and they should not be exploited under the guise of economic growth and corporate profits.



For more information:

Gender and trade spotlighted at UN Commission on Status of Women

New Trends in Global Trade Are Changing How Women Work Around the World

The private sector should invest in women farmers to fight global hunger

Women Farmworkers Achieve Justice on the Job in Morocco

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