Trade and gender

Putting gender and the needs of poor communities at the heart of national development plans and trade integration is something to which the EIF is fully committed. The EIF has a clear mandate to help LDCs benefit from global trade through tackling bottlenecks to trade and promoting sustainable economic growth and development for countries to effectively trade their way out of poverty. Central to this is the need to address gender-specific constraints and increase trading opportunities for both women and men. More information on gender and Aid for Trade, notably the work of the International Trade Centre (ITC) in this area, can be found here.

Tackling gender-based constraints often amounts to creating a more gender‑neutral environment for the production and trade in goods and services. Typically, this pertains to areas such as employment, legal structures, customs or individual household situations. The EIF offers solutions to improve women's family situations, to diminish the supply-side constraints that particularly affect them and improve their access to markets. Many industries and businesses - especially SMEs - are mainly comprised of women, and it is therefore crucial that they are granted conditions similar to the ones enjoyed by men. In order to do so, DTISs regularly report on gender issues, and the DTIS Action Matrices include potential solutions to these issues. In 2008, an expert roundtable jointly organized by the ITC, the WTO, the Government of Zambia and the Government of Lao PDR discussed gender and trade questions and produced an informative Reference Guide.

Building on this, ITC in partnership with the ES have developed a module on gender mainstreaming. This module was piloted in Rwanda in November 2011 with training given to build capacity of EIF National Implementation Units (NIUs) and other national stakeholders participating in EIF National Implementation Arrangements (NIAs) to incorporate gender as a cross-cutting issue in EIF projects. See the Training Programme and the Training Manual.

In Rwanda, gender is now considered a key tool for development in the National Trade Policy. Priority is also given to gender as a cross‑cutting issue in National Development Strategies, i.e., the Vision 2020, the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS), the National Decentralization Policy and the National Gender Policy to: (1) promote gender equality and empower women to initiate economic activities and participate in trade; and (2) establish mechanism to remove all barriers that constrain women's access to, and control over, productive resources.