Aid for Trade can advance women’s entrepreneurship, empowerment, equality

By Sigrid Kaag, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Co-operation, The Netherlands

 This blog is part of a special series marking the 3 July 2019 launch in Geneva of the joint OECD/WTO publication Aid for Trade at a Glance

AFT coverImproving women’s economic opportunities and removing barriers to their participation in regional and international trade are essential for pursuing economic development and achieving fairer and beneficial outcomes for all. These are amongst the guiding principles of Dutch policy on foreign trade and development co-operation.

In this light, it is crucial that the work initiated by the Buenos Aires declaration on gender and women’s economic empowerment continues. At the same time, we must remain committed to implementing the Aid for Trade agenda. And a key part of that agenda is addressing women’s economic empowerment, the gender gap and women’s entrepreneurship as well as creating not just more jobs, but also better jobs, for women. Women are still more likely than men to experience unfavourable and even dangerous working conditions.

Entrepreneurship can be a promising way for women to make a living, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. This helps increase gender equality by creating jobs and employing more women. But if this is to happen, then women entrepreneurs need equal rights and opportunities, including access to financial services and the ability to compete in public procurement procedures. The good news is that digital technologies are helping to create these opportunities.

Ultimately, Aid for Trade brings new markets within reach of women entrepreneurs. Still, more is needed. Many female traders are at a disadvantage because of poor literacy and limited knowledge of cross-border trade regulations and procedures. So access to education, knowledge and skills is critical if Aid for Trade is to make a lasting and sustained difference in the quest for women’s economic empowerment and equality.

By advancing the Aid for Trade agenda as part of our shared efforts towards 2030, women can be economically empowered and better positioned to capitalise on their economic potential and enjoy equal rights and good working conditions. We can only achieve the SDGs if no one is left behind, including women. We are on the right track, but collective action is needed now to boost and upscale our efforts.