Women and Trade: How Trade Agreements Can Level the Gender Playing Field

International trade has historically been considered “gender neutral.” Yet, in practice, even seemingly neutral trade policies can discriminate against women. CSIS research has focused on the intersection of gender and trade, and in a new report, the CSIS Scholl Chair in International Business considers what policymakers and negotiators can do to improve women’s global market access.

This report first describes the nexus of gender and trade, including existing relevant research and gendered trade barriers, before considering the degree to which four trade agreements, taken as case studies, are gender-responsive (Republic of Korea-United States Free Trade Agreement, Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement, United States-Mexico-Canada Free Trade Agreement, and the pending WTO E-Commerce Agreement). The report assesses gender responsiveness rather than gender impact, which is an important but separate area of study. The report then draws on interviews with trade experts and negotiators to consider how trade negotiations might impact the inclusion of gender-specific clauses in trade agreements. It concludes with recommendations for trade agreements, trade negotiations, and domestic policy, which directly and indirectly impacts trade. 

This project was made possible by support from UPS.

Ally Brodsky

Research Assistant, Scholl Chair in International Business

Jasmine Lim

Program Coordinator and Research Assistant, Scholl Chair in International Business