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'Aligning Gender, Rights & Trade' @the WTO Public Forum

w@tt hosts groundbreaking panel with CEDAW at the WTO PF18

w@tt hosts 'Aligning Gender, Rights & Trade' at the WTO Public Forum with CEDAW experts, the World Bank, and Canada.

On the WTO Public Forum18 opening day, 2 October, w@tt curated a truly stellar panel of world experts:

  • Nicole Ameline, Expert, United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)
  • Marion Bethel, Expert, United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, (CEDAW)
  • Stephen de Boer, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Canada to the World Trade Organization
  • Jos Verbeek, Special Representative to the UN and WTO, World Bank Group Office in Geneva 
  • Moderator: Caitlin Kraft-Buchman, CEO of Women @ the Table

The concept

How can the Sustainable Development Goals – and specifically the transversal SDG 5 for women’s equality – help reinvigorate multilateral trading systems to bring inclusiveness, relevance and trust?

How can inclusive growth and sustainable development align with the interests and values of trade to bring us to a more inclusive trading system?

Who are the potential partners in a new global coalition to use inclusive trade to effectively impact the well being of all citizens including women who have been left behind? How can we leverage trade to reduce poverty and stimulate inclusive sustainable growth? Finally, how can rights perspectives be reincorporated into the current trading system? These questions must all be considered in order to move towards an inclusive, resilient trading system that aligns gender, human rights and trade and is fit for purpose in the turbulent times ahead that present great challenge, but also great opportunity for change.

l to r: CKB/w@tt; Amb. de Boer/Canada; Marion Bethel/CEDAW; Jos Verbeek/World Bank; Nicole Ameline/CEDAW

The panel discussion

Reuniting experts from across the globe our goal is to (re)establish a clear link between trade policy, its overarching goals of poverty alleviation and increased prosperity, and gender equality, thereby reaffirming the role of trade as a powerful amplifier of both women’s economic empowerment and development in general.


We went back to the beginning to unpack how the tracks of trade, and tracks of gender became separate, by going all the way back to the GATT and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with Stephen de Boer, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Canada to the World Trade Organization.

Nicole Ameline, Expert, United Nations Committee on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) discussed how CEDAW looks at the question of how popular notions of trade and rights and gender diverge.

Jos Verbeek, Special Representative to the UN and WTO, World Bank Group Office in Geneva spoke of how the World Bank Group’s thinking evolved on the subject of women and the world economy. Specifically women and their rights.

Marion Bethel, Expert, Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) mused on what a new alignment of trade and gender would look like. What is a vision of a future, and an articulation of a positive feminist trade frame?


Bringing us to the present tense:the genesis and substance of the Canada/Chile Trade Chapter, and the work leading to the IGC Trade Impact Group’s Declaration on Women & Trade that became the Buenos Aires Declaration on Women & Trade?

How the Declaration on Trade and Women’s Economic Empowerment interconnects with the SDGs, and with CEDAW, and in particular with work with the business community to bring together the different players necessary to make gender equality a working reality?

The World Bank Group’s amazing biennal report, “Women, Business and the Law”. The 2018 edition focuses on 3 segments of law: laws that actively discriminate against women and prohibit their participation; laws that are apparently neutral (conceived much like trade law in the assumption that being neutral would mean creation of a level playing field, something which has now been found by researchers to be discriminatory nonetheless); and the third section, laws that create positive legal environments for women. Important findings in the 2018 edition of WBL, and how the research relates and syncs up to CEDAW

In the World Bank’s “Women, Business and the Law” some of the scored questions focus on issues of childcare, and women’s reproductive health. How does women’s sexual and reproductive health tie in with women’s economic empowerment? How are the two agendas linked? And can you have one without the other?


Recently, Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau became an International Gender Champion with the intention of creating an IGC-Finance Hub bringing in other Finance Ministers and International Finance Institutions with a common commitment to embark upon a gender budgeting process within the next 12 months. We know that Canada has gone through two years of work to arrive at a gender budgeting process. We spoke of the Canadian experience, and what a gender budget means?

Going from gender budgeting to where the money will come from! Taxation and its relation to gender equality, and the notion of tax bias...

Then tying the threads together and considering how and what it would mean to link CEDAW recommendations, with the Trade Periodic Review at the WTO, and the Universal Periodic Review at the Human Rights Council and the Treaty Bodies ?


Listen to the Audio Recording of the session

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