UNDP, UN Women and Global Affairs Canada collaborate to strengthen gender-inclusive trade policies
September 1, 2023
Addis Ababa, 31 August 2023 – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UN Women and Global Affairs Canada convened a webinar focusing on integrating gender into trade agreements, policies and programmes. The event brought together over 148 participants from diverse AU Member States, Regional Economic Commissions (RECs) officials, Global Affairs Canada and civil society organizations (CSOs).
The webinar aimed to equip Member States, RECs officials and CSOs with tools to mainstream gender in trade. This encompassed sharing insights on incorporating gender considerations into implementing the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). Furthermore, participants gained a deeper understanding of trade policies as a means to advance gender equality while also addressing current challenges and potential opportunities.
The AfCFTA is poised to bolster Africa's income by US$450 billion by 2035 and is expected to uplift 30 million people from extreme poverty. Despite the immense opportunities arising from this agreement, women currently face several challenges in cross-border trade, including limited access to information, restricted financial resources, constrained professional networks and the adverse effects of COVID-19. The webinar sought to these key barriers and proposed practical solutions for enhancing their participation within the AfCFTA.
Moreover, representatives from Global Affairs Canada led sessions on Gender-Based Analysis Plus, gender-disaggregated data, inclusive trade policies for sustainable development while providing insights on inclusive stakeholder engagement.
In her presentation, Canadian High Commissioner to Cameroon, Lorraine Anderson, stated, "Our inclusive approach to trade tackles gender discrimination and empowers women in trade. Women have something important to contribute - they must sit at the table and be meaningfully engaged in a way that meets their needs."
Women have something important to contribute - they must sit at the table and be meaningfully engaged in a way that meets their needs.Lorraine Anderson, Canadian High Commissioner to Cameroon
Matthias Naab, UNDP Regional Service Center for Africa (RSCA) Director, highlighted the importance of mainstreaming gender in the AfCFTA. "We are confident this webinar will empower RECs and Members States on how to mainstream gender in trade policies, programmes and strategies so that we can create an enabling environment to facilitate trade for women," he said.
Mehjabeen Alarakhia, Regional Policy Advisor on Women's Economic Empowerment for UN Women, provided words of caution. “Trade liberalization will not automatically result in gender equal outcomes – deliberate and evidence-based safeguards for women in Africa need to be introduced to realize equitable and inclusive economic growth through the AfCFTA," she said.
The webinar builds upon the findings of the "Engine of Trade in Africa" report, consolidating outcomes from 26 national consultations across the continent, to support AU Member States in ECCAS, ECOWAS, IGAD and SADC Regional Economic Communities (RECS) in amplifying women's voices within the AfCFTA's Women and Youth in Trade Protocol and its implementation.
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UN Women supports UN Member States as they set global standards for achieving gender equality, and works with governments and civil society to design laws, policies, programmes and services needed to ensure that the standards are effectively implemented and truly benefit women and girls worldwide.