WIDE+ Comments to the Study commissioned by the EP: ‘The EU’s Trade Policy: from gender blind to gender sensitive’.

The European Parliament’s INTA (International Trade) Committee discussed at its last meeting held on 22 September 2015 the study commissioned by the EP ‘EU’s Trade Policy: from gender blind to gender sensitive’. Joyce Naar represented WIDE+ in this meeting and delivered an intervention into the debate (see attached).

WIDE+ welcomes this Study as it underlines the simple fact that trade has differential impacts on women and men. Globally, women lag behind in participation in the paid and formal labour market compared to men and they are paid less with a significant gender gap. No country has achieved a gender equality in each of these aspects. In addition, women and men are often structured into different economic sectors of the economy.

WIDE+ underscores the conclusion in this study that while ”the European Commission has made considerable progress in mainstreaming gender equality in some of the EU policy areas. Trade policy, however, has been very much left aside in this policy process and gender equality issues are currently not dealt with in a systematic manner by DG Trade”. WIDE+, and its predecessor WIDE, has come to the same conclusion after monitoring EU’s trade policy for close to two decades. The study offers important analysis and windows of opportunity to address this deficiency.

For women in the developing world it is key that the European Commission and Parliaments take up avenues for action put forward by the Study. In addition there are several other key actions the EU should undertake:

• Include binding clauses on labour standards, human rights and environmental protection in the trade agreement with an appropriate body appointed or an explicit mechanism to monitor compliance.
• Stop with promoting for a further liberalisation of markets and privatization for FDI and services as well as the opening of public procurement. Instead of protecting the interest of private corporations, EU trade policy must do more to protect public goods and services. The leverage to global sustainable development lies in the development of a large group of poor and middle income consumers. Women need a more balanced interplay between private capital and other sources of capital that will enhance their access to health, education, food and to economic tools.
• One major barrier for women’s full entry into the paid labour market (including setting up businesses) is women’s huge unpaid work burden. EU Trade agreements should encourage states to better regulate and provide for social protection which is counter to more liberalization and privatization.
• Movements, communities and associations that represents women’s rights should be part of public discussions during Trade negotiations taking place on multi- and bilateral level and the negotiations should be transparent.

WIDE+ intervention: INTA_meeting_WIDE_2015

Study: the EU’s Trade Policy: from gender-blind to gender-sensitive?
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/IDAN/2015/549058/EXPO_IDA(2015)549058_EN.pdf.

The INTA committee video recording of 22 September (WIDE+ presentation in second part of meeting, towards the end)
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/ep-live/en/committees/video?event=20150922-1500-COMMITTEE-INTA

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