On 23 September 2020, a group of World Trade Organization (WTO) members agreed to establish an Informal Working Group on Trade and Gender, marking the next phase of an initiative kickstarted in 2017 to increase the participation of women in trade. The online meeting to launch the new WTO working group was held at the invitation of Iceland and Botswana.
The co-chair of the International Gender Champions (IGC) Trade Impact Group introduced the proposal to establish the WTO Informal Working Group. This proposal, he said, stemmed from consultations with WTO members who expressed support for following-up on the commitments contained in the Buenos Aires Declaration on Trade and Women's Economic Empowerment. The declaration established an initiative to remove barriers to women's participation in trade and was supported by 118 WTO members and observers at the 11th Ministerial Conference in 2017. It now counts 127 signatories.
The Informal Working Group's objectives will be to continue to share best practices among members on increasing women's participation in trade, consider and clarify what a “gender lens” is in the context of international trade and review how a gender lens could usefully be applied to the work of the WTO, review and discuss gender-related analytical work produced by the WTO Secretariat, and explore how best to support the delivery of the WTO Aid for Trade work programme. It will convene for its first meeting in the second half of 2020 and establish a schedule of activities and themes to be discussed in the run up to the 12th Ministerial Conference.
Story by: Riaan de Lange