Women’s rights and trade: time for a radical shift

Monday, June 4, 2018

Women's rights and trade

Today, European decision-makers widely acknowledge that the EU trade policy is not gender-neutral, and that this needs to be addressed. A concrete policy measure that receives a lot of attention is the integration of specific provisions – such as a dedicated chapter – on trade and gender in trade agreements. CONCORD welcomes this greater attention to the interactions between trade and women’s rights and would like to contribute to ongoing debates with this submission.

We highlight the limitations of what a separate gender chapter or provision can achieve, especially if it is not enforceable, and suggest considering the possibility to include gender equality and women’s rights in the existing sustainable development chapters of trade agreements, that should become enforceable. We also believe that a gender provision in trade agreement will not suffice to harness the potential of our trade and investment policy to contribute to women’s rights and gender equality: We call for a fundamental shift towards a EU trade policy that gives as much importance to human rights and environmental standards than to economic indicators – especially the questionable indicator of GDP growth. This implies that other measures within Trade and Investment Agreements, such as investment arrangements, need to be re-adjusted to make sure they respect and promote women’s rights.