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White Paper on Women in Trade Facilitation

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WhitePaper_Women-TF_Eng.pdf (application/pdf, 561.82 KB)

The goal of this white paper is to identify ways to address gender inequality in trade facilitation. In line with the United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT) strategy, this paper seeks to contribute to the achievement of United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5 (SDG5): to reduce gender inequalities and empower all women and girls. Specifically, UN/CEFACT is committed to facilitating trade and attaining gender equality within the scope of its activities, which are the simplification, standardization and harmonization of procedures and associated information related to the movement of goods from seller to buyer, and related payments.

This paper is part of UN/CEFACT’s gender mainstreaming efforts which look to create deliverables that provide support for policy development, data creation and research, standards, recommendations, advocacy and dialogue, resource allocation, planning, implementation, and monitoring of programs aimed at eliminating gender disparities in trade facilitation. These efforts should enable women to have a greater engagement in international trade, promote their economic empowerment and ensure that trade procedures are equally accessible for women in terms of time and costs.

Data provides evidence that there is a need to support women in trade. Implementation of the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (WTO TFA) offers great opportunities to countries for improving their competitiveness. At the same time, gender disparities reduce the gains that can be achieved in terms of international trade opportunities, countries’ competitiveness, and economic growth. Organizations such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), the International Trade Centre (ITC), UN Women and The World Bank are shedding light on the fact that gender equality matters as an instrument for economic development through international trade activities.

Specifically, in the context of UN/CEFACT activities, gender discrimination in trade facilitation has multiple dimensions. Inequalities exist in many different areas, in multiple sectors and affect a myriad of fields of knowledge. This prevents the integration of women into international trade. It is widely recognized that gender inequities exist in three main areas:
women in the economy (as entrepreneurs and participants in the labour force), women as policymakers and women as decision makers. There are also distinct barriers for women by sector and in the professions involved in trade and reflected in UN/CEFACT’s Buy-Ship-Pay model. These include professions such as marine and air pilots, truck drivers, crane operators, vessel traffic services operatives, stevedores, harbour masters, traders, port managers and customs agents. Gender inequities are also ingrained in multidisciplinary areas, which involve the integration of many fields of knowledge. The reduction of gender inequalities requires the cooperative contribution of lawyers, economists, sociologists, finance experts, statisticians, engineers, designers, doctors, anthropologists and psychologists among others.

Using a holistic approach, this white paper has two goals: to reduce gender inequalities in trade procedures and, more importantly, to facilitate trade for women. To this end, the scope is not merely the description of best practices for women in trade facilitation. Essentially, it provides guidance for the implementation of gender mainstreaming which includes tools, policies and implementation strategies. This paper also recognizes the need for active engagement from politicians, managers, recruiters, money lenders, economic advisors, teachers and trainers, and the whole of society to achieve these goals.