Gender responsive trade facilitation in Central Asia: Highlights of the regional Training-of-Trainers workshop

25 juin 2021
ITC News

From June 14-18th, the International Trade Centre conducted a regional ‘Training-of-Trainers' workshop under the Ready4Trade-Central Asia (R4TCA) project funded by the European Union. The workshop is part of the Gender component of the R4TCA project, which aims to increase opportunities for women-led enterprises to participate in international trade.

The session gathered local customs experts from five Central Asian countries to participate in a training module called ‘Gender-Responsive Trade Facilitation’. The workshop aimed to turn customs experts into master trainers with the right technical and pedagogical tools to facilitate future discussions, case studies, and exercises with their colleagues in their respective customs administrations and other relevant trade agencies.

As explained by the facilitator of the training Ms. Alina Fetisova, Trade Facilitation Programme Officer at ITC: “The objective is to allow trade policy makers, customs officers, and border officials to understand why facilitating trade for women is important, while highlighting some of the constraints that women face when engaging in international trade. The module will also provide recommendations to enhance women participation in trade and to create conducive border environment through trade facilitation reforms”

Over the course of the workshop, the future master trainers were first taught the ‘Gender Responsive Trade Facilitation module and then they had the opportunity to practice presenting parts of the module to the other master trainer participants. Each practice session was followed by a 10-minute feedback session where presenters received advice on their performance.

“The practice session was a great way for us to understand the material better, improve our performance and receive valuable recommendations from ITC experts and customs colleagues,” commented master trainers from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan.

The need for the training was evident. Consultations with governmental entities, business associations and private sector representatives in Central Asia showed that there is a strong demand for gender-focused activities in the area of trade, especially for cross border trade.

Ms. Silvia Pietropaolo from the delegation of the EU to the Republic of Kazakhstan highlighted in her opening remarks, “We really believe that addressing women specific challenges in cross border trade is essential to achieve women economic empowerment and to mainstream gender across the whole policy spectrum”.

As highlighted by Mr. Pierre Bonthonneau, Trade Facilitation Adviser at ITC: “Free-trade agreements (FTAs) are not gender neutral and policymakers should factor-in the specific needs of women when it comes to negotiating FTAs. This realization to address women's needs hasn’t reached the trade facilitation area yet. Therefore, raising awareness to border officials on these challenges while providing concrete recommendations for better gender inclusion at the border is crucial to improve the experience of women traders. This workshop was a very important step in this direction”.

The Ready4Trade Central Asia project is a joint initiative of the European Union and the International Trade Centre. Its aim is to contribute to the overall sustainable and inclusive economic development of Central Asia by boosting intra-regional and international trade in the region. Beneficiaries of the Ready4Trade Central Asia project include governments, small and medium-sized enterprises, in particular women-led enterprises, and Business Support Organizations. The project operates in 5 countries: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. More information: