New ITC publication sets out roadmap for boosting women’s participation in international trade

14 December 2015
ITC News
Report brings new survey data, case stories to bear on key obstacles and solutions

A new publication from the International Trade Centre provides evidence-based insights and sets out policy solutions for increasing women’s participation in global commerce, which would contribute to more prosperous economies and healthier, better educated societies.

Unlocking Markets: Towards a roadmap for women in trade uses case studies and data, including new ITC survey data, to outline a roadmap for action, based on better data, trade policy, corporate and public procurement initiatives, a better business environment, financial services and ownership rights.

Launched at the first International Forum on Women in Business, a 14 December event in Nairobi on the sidelines of the WTO Ministerial Conference, the new report provides an overview of the prevalence of women-owned businesses in developing countries around the world.

It explains how cultural and regulatory barriers disproportionately affect women and the international prospects of the businesses they run. For instance, limited access to finance and land, as well as to information and networks, contribute to making women-owned businesses on average smaller and less productive than their male-owned competitors. Smaller size in turn means that trade-related fixed costs, such as those related to complicated regulations and other non-tariff measures, weigh particularly heavily on women-owned firms.

This publication reviews initiatives by governments, trade and investment support institutions, non-governmental organizations and multinationals to facilitate the integration of women-owned businesses into international value chains. These tend to centre on capacity-building and training, together with improving access to land, finance, networks, and market information. Other key tools include efforts by both governments and private companies to boost the share of procurement and sourcing from women-owned businesses.