Analysis of Trade barriers affecting Women entrepreneurs: Case of trade policies and agreements signed and implemented by Rwanda
The year 2020 marks 25th anniversary of Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action a global blueprint to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment in all spheres of life. Women’s economic empowerment under the umbrella “Women and the economy” was and remains one of the 12 critical areas of concern from the Beijing Platform for Action but till now women are still facing a number of barriers for their effective engagement and benefits from trade be it domestic or international trade.
Recent years have seen increasing initiatives on gender and trade. Among them are the 2017 World Trade Organization (WTO) Joint Declaration on Trade and Women’s Economic Empowerment, the International Trade Centre’s She Trades initiative, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) built under the principle of Leave No one Behind would also in principle foster gender equality and equal economic opportunities between men and women. However, Trade policies, like many macro-economic policies in many countries are neither gender sensitive nor neutral.
Rather, such policies have a different impact on women and men because of their gender-related
roles and positions within society and the economy.
The signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) on 21st March 2018 in Kigali which entered into force of implementation effective from 30th May 2019 came as a milestone to promote inclusive growth in Africa but if no evidence based policies and guidelines are put in place the AfCFTA might end up disproportionately benefiting to the majority of African population which is made of women like many of other Trade Agreements between regional economic blocs have failed to align growth with gender equality. It is important that women and men entrepreneurs receive equitable opportunities and/or facilitation to actively participate in the implementation of the AfCFTA through various value Chains and Supply Chains that will emerge as the AfCFTA is implemented. The study investigating gender related trade barriers is expected to among other benefits inform the national strategy for the implementation of AfCFTA and other Trade Agreements that Rwanda has subscribed to or domesticated. With the timing of this study coinciding with Covid-19 global pandemic which has been having a devastating socioeconomic impact to the global population with a very heavy weight on women, it is expected that the study will also look at the trade impact that the pandemic has been having on women as well as the strategies to help women traders and/or entrepreneurs recover better from Covid-19
The study is aimed at feeding the knowledge base for decision making as regards to promoting gender responsive business environment for both domestic and international trade.
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