WIDE+ workshop: ‘Trade, digital Economy and Women’s access to Decent work’, at the WTO Public Forum, Friday 11 October 2019

The global digitalization is challenging the shape of formal labour, but the current trade policy discourse doesn’t look at what is happening currently with women in these kind of jobs across the world, especially women in services and in agriculture.

This workshop will assess the impacts of digitalization on women’s current working conditions in order to assess future effects of this ongoing development. It will zoom in on the question of whether it is providing decent work, with proper social protection. It will provide recommendations to counter negative developments in the service sector in trade agreements in terms of 1) conceptions of these ‘contractors’ as providing labour under labour laws, and: 2) effective models and examples of policy.

Where: WTO Building, Geneva, Switzerland,  Session 138, Room E, during the WTO Public Forum 2019
When: 15.30-17.00, 11 October 2019
Title: How should trade agreements be designed to empower women in the digital economy with new forms of service provision

  • Kim Titcombe (Moderator)

    Kim Titcombe is an independent consultant, who has worked in the development sphere for many years with a focus on gender and women’s economic empowerment. She is a member of the EU Gender Research Institute Panel of Experts and a member of the WIDE + EU Working Group on Gender and Trade.

  • Sofia Scasserra (Speaker)

    Sofia Scasserra has been and economic and trade advisor to the federation of commerce and services in Argentina where she develops her activities in the international department. She is an advisor to the presidency of UNI global union. She is also teacher and researcher at the national university UNTREF and the academic director of the diplomat on international trade union relations.

  • Nandini Chami (Speaker) 

    Nandini Chami is Deputy Director at IT for Change. She is engaged in policy research and advocacy at the intersections of digital policy, development justice and gender equality. Her research interests are data justice, inclusive platform economies, and gender and digital trade.

  • Sanya Smith (Speaker)

    Sanya Smith is a legal advisor & senior researcher, Third World Network. Sanya analyses the implications of trade and investment agreements on laws and policies in developing and least developed countries. She is analyzing E-commerce proposals and many others at the World Trade Organization and in regions.

deviyahya-ZxfFGOvJRE0-unsplashPhoto by Deviyahya on Unsplash

More background Information

The global digitalization is challenging the shape of formal labour, as its most known form in formal trade policy spaces is one of paid work in high income countries that is regulated through national and international labour laws, including the ILO Conventions.  Leaving aside the question whether digitalization will lead to enough jobs for future generations globally, it has also enabled a new model for paid work, in which workers are ‘independent contractors’ within a platform that offers services and goods to consumers, as opposed to employees. These new kind of workers are not legally considered ‘employees’ as it is currently defined, they are as a result excluded in measures in trade agreements and negotiations that regulate and promote decent work.

Women are worse off in face of these new developments. Women do most of the unpaid (care) work, are over-represented in informal work and precarious jobs in light manufacturing exporting sectors such as textiles, they are discriminated against in the formal labour market through receiving less income (gender gap) and are also often horizontally segmented in specific economic sectors such as social service provision and the public sector. Women represent also the majority of small scale farmers in regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa, or a very significant part of them such as in South Asia.

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