COVID-19:Women to be harder hit than men by trade disruptions – WTO

Women will be hit harder than men by trade disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic according to a report by the World Trade Organisation Secretariat.

The World Trade Organization said the situation will be acute in developing countries according to a new information.The paper recognize the role that women play in trade and ensure that officials at all levels understand the importance of that role.

The paper also shows how governments’ policy responses could address gender-specific effects due to the corona-virus.

The report presented that, exporters employ more women in developing countries and women make up 33 percent of the workforce of exporting firms compared with just 24 percent of non-exporting firms.

It makes use of a new datasets that for the first time allows researchers to see labor data at the industry level by gender, reducing subjectivity of trade-related analysis.

Also, the data sheds light on how women are employed, in which industries they work, what their income is and whether or not they are involved in global trade.

It also point out to the fact that, women make up a larger share of the workforce in the manufacturing sectors, such as textiles, apparel, footwear and telecommunication products that have seen the largest falls in export growth during the first months of the pandemic, the paper notes.

Women also outnumber men in the service sector particularly in industries that have been directly affected by travel restrictions, such as tourism and business travel services.

The paper estimates the risk posed by trade disruptions on men and women using employment data from the World Bank Enterprise Surveys, monthly merchandise exports data and statistics on the mode by which a service is also reveals that women are disproportionately present in the informal sector in developing and least-developed countries and in activities that cannot be done remotely.

It gives out how the existing gender gap in terms of income, education, information technology skills, access to finance, and childcare responsibilities put women at a further disadvantage during the pandemic.

It says maintaining open markets during the recovery period is key to building faster and more inclusive growth, the information note states, adding that this should be complemented by appropriate labour and education policies as well as legal and social reforms to support women workers, consumers and traders.

According to a press release as at July 30,2020 by the World Bank Group trade increases women’s wages and helps close the wage gap between men and women while creating better jobs for women.It further said, Countries that are open to international trade tend to grow faster, innovate, improve productivity, and provide higher income and more opportunities to their people. Countries that are more open to trade, as measured by the trade-to-GDP ratio, have higher levels of gender equality.

The paper also points to the recently launched WTO-World Bank report “Women and Trade: The role of trade in promoting gender equality”, which highlights ways to ensure women continue to benefit from trade during the economic recovery after the pandemic and to help governments understand how trade policies will affect women and men differently.


Paa Kweku Eshun

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