From rhetoric to rights: towards gender-just trade | ActionAid UK

From rhetoric to rights: towards gender-just trade

This ActionAid UK report argues for a transformative, gender-just approach to trade, and sets out a series of principles – and associated recommendations – for policy makers and governments.

Executive summary

Increasing attention is being given to the relationship between gender and trade by policy-makers at the national and global level.

If designed carefully, trade rules and policies can help address the structural barriers that prevent women from accessing their full rights, and contribute to the realisation of gender equality and equitable development for all.

However, all too often, poorly designed trade policies and a system of rules that privilege the interests of wealthy countries and corporates over women’s rights, human rights and the environment have been deeply harmful to women – especially those from the poorest and most marginalised communities.

This includes by:

  • infringing on the policy space of governments to implement their women’s rights and human rights commitments – for example by limiting the ability of states to provide quality, gender responsive
  • public services, infrastructure (GRPS) and social protection
  • concentrating women in jobs with low wages and poor working conditions
  • undermining livelihoods and land rights of small-scale women farmers, producers and informal sector workers
  • placing restrictions on intellectual property rights that threaten access to medicines and seeds, hampering rights to health and food sovereignty.

As gender and trade moves up the political agenda, governments have a new opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to women’s rights and gender equality. To do this meaningfully, they need to go beyond initiatives that simply seek to integrate more women ‘in’ trade, playing increased lip-service to gender while pushing for ever deeper liberalisation and greater rights for investors.

The report argues for a transformative, gender-just approach to trade, and sets out a series of principles – and associated recommendations – for policy makers and governments.

Footnotes