UK women’s trade initiative - comment

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UK Prime Minister Theresa May has launched a £7 million fund to support female entrepreneurs across the Commonwealth. The scheme, named SheTrades, will help women in poorer countries "overcome barriers" to starting a business. 

In a speech to mark the opening of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, Mrs May said: “Our Commonwealth family already accounts for one-fifth of global trade, and we must continue to work together to build further upon this solid foundation by building on our existing trade links and establishing new ones. I firmly believe that regardless of which corner of the Commonwealth you are from, we all will benefit from the jobs created by doing so. Every one of those new jobs will mean another family seeing their hard work rewarded, and the spread of greater opportunity. In taking decisive action today, we have begun a positive change which will echo through the generations. I am also proud that important action taken at this summit will mean that more women will be able to overcome barriers which keep them from participating in trade.”


Commenting, ActionAid UK's chief executive Girish Menon said:

“It’s welcome that the Prime Minister is taking steps to tackle women’s economic inequality. But more needs to be done to prevent the gender inequality and injustice that can result from trade agreements, if care isn’t taken. At ActionAid we’ve seen first-hand how poorly-designed trade policies can undermine progress on women’s rights – creating jobs for women where low wages, sub-standard working conditions and sexual harassment are the norm. Post-Brexit, the government has an opportunity to show leadership on this issue by committing to the fairest possible trade policies, with a clear commitment to protect worker’s rights – especially those of women and girls.” 


Notes to Editors

1. ActionAid is an international charity working with the poorest women and girls in the world, in over 45 countries.

2. ActionAid UK has campaigned for fairer tax systems which can reduce the inequality gap between men and women worldwide. The charity has recently called on the UK government to ensure that post-Brexit trade agreements are grounded in strong international rights standards and based on solid assessments of the likely impact on the poorest – including women and girls.