Taking gender in trade more seriously

By Ann Linde, Minister for Foreign Trade, Sweden


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 coverThe 2030 Agenda strengthens the prominence of international trade as both a goal of and a means to sustainable development. It also recognises the importance of Aid for Trade. Sweden, for one, is highly dedicated to these commitments and supportive of the Aid for Trade initiative. Additionally, as the Foreign Trade Minister of the world’s first officially feminist government, I use the WTO’s and EU’s free trade agreements as well as Aid for Trade as important platforms for pushing forward the gender equality agenda.

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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.

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Three trade challenges for LDCs to converge and eradicate poverty

By Anabel González, Nonresident Senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics; Former Costa Rica Minister of Trade, World Bank Senior Director for Trade & Competitiveness, and World Trade Organization Director for Agriculture


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 coverBangladesh is preparing to graduate from the category of least developed countries (LDCs). Robust multi-year economic growth of more than 6-7% has helped this South Asian nation make remarkable progress in reducing extreme poverty from 44.2% in 1991 to 13.9% in 2017. In parallel, life expectancy, literacy rates and per capita food production have increased significantly. Rapid growth enabled Bangladesh to reach the lower middle-income country status in 2015; it now aspires to become an upper middle-income country by its 50th anniversary in 2021. Trade has been at the heart of this success story (see Figure 1). Exports of textiles and garments are driving integration into the global economy, with new products becoming part of the country’s export basket. Will Bangladesh be able to continue to rely on trade for increased growth? Will conditions remain for other LDCs to follow?

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Bold steps to address the global pollution crisis

By Rich Fuller, President, Pure Earth, and Founder, Global Alliance on Health and Pollution

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Image by Yogendra Singh/Pixabay

A sense of urgency for action against pollution is building. Air pollution and climate agendas both acknowledge the immediate threat to human health and longer-term changes to the planet’s habitability. Uncontrolled industrial pollution in some lower middle-income countries is visible worldwide, and citizens in numerous cities, each experiencing versions of “airpocalypses”, fear for their children’s health and are demanding change. Corporate leaders are responding to demands from board members and consumers for clean supply chains and the development of toxic chemical “footprint” metrics. Pollution is a threat to biodiversity, and air pollution contributes to noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). Such growing public and political attention provides an opportunity for collaborative action to improve health and grow economies.

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Civic space is shrinking, yet civil society is not the enemy

By Lysa JohnSecretary-General, CIVICUS World Alliance for Citizen Participation 1


Global collaboration is new. It is also under threat. That puts our greatest chance at working together to protect people and planet – as encompassed in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – in jeopardy.


This blog marks Civil Society Days hosted by the OECD Development Co-operation Directorate and the Task Team on CSO Development Effectiveness and Enabling Environment.


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The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by the UN member states in 2015, represent an ambitious, but achievable, agenda to make the world better. Importantly, they are a reminder that world leaders have agreed on common goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. In a remarkable shift in international public policy, they have pledged to ‘leave no one behind’ in this effort, thereby committing themselves not just to work together, but also to work for the benefit of all people irrespective of who they are or where they come from.

The values that underpin our ability to generate an internationally co-ordinated response to the sustainable development challenge are, however, increasingly being questioned, undermined and even overruled by leaders who promote narrow, self-serving interpretations of national interest. Report after report from civil society organisations across the globe highlight what we have called in our State of Civil Society report this year a trend towards “presidential sovereignty” that aims to undermine or override the mandate of constitutions, national rights preserving institutions and international agreements.

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Defending Civic Space: Four unresolved questions

By Thomas Carothers, Director, and Saskia Brechenmacher, Associate Fellow, Democracy, Conflict, and Governance Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace


This blog marks Civil Society Days (4-7 June 2019), including the International Conference on Civil Society Space on 6 June 2019 hosted by the OECD Development Co-operation Directorate and the Task Team on CSO Development Effectiveness and Enabling Environment


1The trend of closing civic space crystallised at the beginning of this decade. In response, concerned international actors — including various bilateral aid agencies, foreign ministries, private foundations and international nongovernmental organisations — are working to address this problem. They have carried out many diagnostic efforts and gained greater knowledge of the issue. They have initiated a wide range of measures to limit or counteract it, from setting up emergency funds for endangered activists and supporting national campaigns against new civil society restrictions to pushing international bodies, like the Financial Action Task Force, to take better account of the issue.

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Tackling Employer-Supported Childcare: A journey from why to how

By Rudaba Zehra Nasir, Global Lead for Tackling Childcare and Women’s Employment, IFC Gender Secretariat [@RudabaNasir]


The OECD Policy Dialogue on Women’s Economic Empowerment aims to generate evidence and guidance for policy makers and development partners on how to unlock women’s economic potential. The latest publication, “Enabling Women’s Economic Empowerment: New approaches to unpaid care work in developing countries”, presents evidence-based analysis and policy guidance on what works to recognise, reduce and redistribute women’s unpaid care work and achieve SDG 5.4 as an entry point for promoting women’s economic empowerment in developing countries. Accessible quality childcare is one solution where both governments and the private sector can contribute, as explored further in this blog.

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My son calls me ‘Aunty’

Shazia, a mother to a toddler, migrated to Dhaka to work at a garment factory. “When I visit my village, my son calls me ‘Aunty,’” she says, with tears in her eyes. Separated from his mother for long periods of time, the son barely knows her.

I met Shazia last year at the factory where she works. She feels conflicted about leaving her son in her mother-in-law’s care. “Sometimes I think about quitting my job and going back to raise him myself.”

Shazia is not alone. The more parents we talk to in focus groups, interviews and surveys from Bangladesh to Fiji, the more it becomes clear that they share similar stories. Parents report feeling stressed and guilty, taking time off from work or being present but not productive, quitting due to lack of family-friendly workplace support, and low levels of awareness and trust in available childcare options.

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