Trade, Poverty and Gender Inequality.
This paper focuses on the relationship between trade, with gender and poverty, on the other
hand within the context of human development paradigm. It specifically examines the impact of
trade liberalization on gender inequalities (primarily via employment, wages and the care
economy); and the impact of trade performance on gender inequality.
The next question we need to ask ourselves is what does Trade really mean? According to
Indian Child, goes ahead to define trade as:
The word trade has always been used in a generic fashion and the attempts of deciphering the
meaning of this word has only been done by economists and business people. We have been
hearing this word since the time we started to understand the world. So what exactly is trade?
Going by the standard definition of the term, it is nothing but a simple activity that involves
exchange of goods and services. That’s how simple it is. Such exchanges of goods or services can
be between two parties or several parties. Bilateral trade refers to the trade that takes place
between two parties whereas multilateral trade occurs when more than two parties are involved
in the transaction.
If we look at history books, trade was actually in the form of barter system where commodities
were exchanged and not currency. The commodities to be exchanged had equal values and were
equally desirable to both parties. In modern world, money is used as medium of exchange and
barter system is no longer in existence. The term trade has acquired significant importance in
Imagine a life without the concept of trade! Sure, it would not be as fascinating as it is now. The
need and importance of trade can only be understood from the fact that trading is in existence
since centuries. During initial times, people first started to trade among themselves, and then
they started to venture into other villages, towns and even countries. Even many famous
discoverers from far away countries found India when they were hunting for new places to
trade. This word is also responsible for discovery of many unknown countries and conception of
travel. Names like Marco Polo, Columbus, Vasco De Gama etc surely rings a bell in the world of
trade and its origin. Trade as a whole is not only complex but exciting as well. One thing is pretty
sure; trade is going to be in existence as long as humans are there on the planet. The concept of
Trade is centered around the simple activity of the exchange of good and/or services. These
exchanges may be the ones that simply take place between two parties.
The simple trade which takes place between two parties is known as bilateral trade. These
exchanges may also take place amongst more than two parties. These exchanges that take place
amongst more than two parties is known as Multilateral trade. In its authentic and original form
trade perforce used barter and the exchange of goods and services of a recognized equal value
that is equally desirable to both parties. Modern traders generally negotiate through the use of a
medium of exchange, i.e. money. The barter system of course has become extinct now.
The invention of money and the subsequent creation of the concepts of credit, paper money and
non-physical money have played pivotal roles in simplifying and promoting the development of
Most economists agree and accept the very obvious theory that trade benefits both parties
involved in the transaction. Trade is a concept that exists largely due to the differences in the
cost of production of some tradable commodity in the various
Fair Trade in Action.
Cocoa farmers in Ghana:
Lucy Mansa is a cocoa farmer who makes her living by growing and selling
cocoa beans. She lives in a small village in Ghana called Fenaso Domeabra.
Most of the cocoa beans grown in Ghana are sent to the UK and other countries
in Europe where they are made into chocolate. The price farmers receive for
their cocoa beans is often very low and few of them can afford to buy chocolate.
Lucy and other farmers in her village used to have to sell their cocoa to the
Ghanaian government. They were often cheated and earned very little money
Lucy says, 'I for their hard work.
happy: since I Fair? Of course not. But what could she do?
joined Fair Very little, until cocoa farmers in the same situation decided to get together and
Trade I can form their own company.
afford to send
They called their company Kuapa Kokoo, which means "good cocoa farmer." It
has really helped Lucy and thousands of other farmers. Kuapa Kokoo pays all its
farmers a fair price for their crop, in cash, and on time.
Farmers are getting even more benefits from selling some of their cocoa
to Fair Trade organisations. Cocoa from Kuapa is used to make Rica Gold Children washing
chocolate bars, on sale in many Oxfam shops. their feet in the new
The extra money that the farmers get from Fair Trade is put into projects
that benefit the whole community. Photo: Toby
In Lucy's village of Fenaso Domeabra a new well has been built.
Definitions of trade on the Web:
The commercial exchange (buying and selling on domestic or international markets) of goods
and services; "Venice was an important center of trade with the East"; "they are accused of
conspiring to constrain trade" the skilled practice of a practical occupation; "he learned his
trade as an apprentice" engage in the trade of; "he is merchandising telephone sets" the business
given to a commercial establishment by its customers; "even before noon there was a
considerable patronage" turn in as payment or part payment for a purchase; "trade in an old car
for a new one" deal: a particular instance of buying or selling; "it was a package deal"; "I had no
further trade with him"; "he's a master of the business deal" be traded at a certain price or under
certain conditions; "The stock traded around $20 a share" craft: people who perform a particular
kind of skilled work; "he represented the craft of brewers"; "as they say in the trade" exchange
or give (something) in exchange for trade wind: steady winds blowing from east to west above
and below the equator; "they rode the trade winds going west" deal: do business; offer for sale
as for one's livelihood; "She deals in gold"; "The brothers sell shoes “barter: an equal exchange;
"we had no money so we had to live by barter".
Trade is the voluntary exchange of goods, services, or both. Trade is also called commerce or
transaction. A mechanism that allows trade is called a market. The original form of trade was
barter, the direct exchange of goods and services. ...
A trade is an occupation that requires some particular kind of skilled work. In historical sense,
particularly as pertinent to the Medieval history and earlier, the term is usually applied towards
people occupied in most kinds of crafts and small-scale production of goods.
In finance, a trade is an exchange of a security (stocks, bonds, commodities, currencies,
derivatives or any valuable financial instrument) for "cash", typically a short-dated promise to
pay in the currency of the country where the 'exchange' is located. ...
We then move to ask ourselves, what is poverty?
September 20, 2006
Three Different Types of Poverty
Posted by Adam Graham in: Christianity
Time Magazine has an interesting article on the Prosperity Movement in the Church. There are
too many “money quotes” in this, but I’d urge you to read the article:
Last March, Ben Withering ton, an influential evangelical theologian at Asbury Seminary in
Kentucky, thundered that “we need to renounce the false gospel of wealth and health–it is a
disease of our American culture; it is not a solution or answer to life’s problems.”
And then the ever-controversial Rick Warren makes this statement:
“This idea that God wants everybody to be wealthy?” [Rick] Warren snorts. “There is a word for
that: baloney. It’s creating a false idol. You don’t measure your self-worth by your net worth. I
can show you millions of faithful followers of Christ who live in poverty. Why isn’t everyone in
the church a millionaire?”
Truer words haven’t been spoken in the past 1900 years than what Pastor Warren said. Indeed,
some of the most blessed saints in human history had nothing because they counted it all as loss
to follow Christ. No, I don’t think God wants everyone to be wealthy and I think the prosperity
argument sets our eyes on things below rather than on things above.
But, does God want everyone to be poor? I don’t think so. If we understand the world and the
way people live, we understand that poverty is not a one-size fits all situations. The way I see it,
there are three types of poverty, ranging from righteous to ridiculous:
1) Poverty because of sacrifice and faithfulness:
There are many people who are poor because they were persecuted for the cause of Christ. As
Hebrews 11:36-38 says:
And others endured the trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea moreover, of bonds and
imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the
sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted,
tormented(of whom the world was not worthy). They wandered in deserts and in mountains,
and in dens and caves of the earth. vs. 36-38
So, there are people who are poor because of the cause of Christ and their choosing Christ over
There’s also people who are poor because they, like Christ, chose to pour their lives out like wine
for others. You can think of missionaries and pastors who did this. I’ve heard tell of people who
made so little, but were always giving, pouring all that they have for others, sacrificing day in
and day out.
You can think of parents who saved constantly so that their children could go through college.
Many people are poor because they spent their life loving others more than they loved
themselves. These people are poor in pocketbook, but rich in the Kingdom of God.
2) Poverty Beyond Control.
You’d have to be wearing rose-colored glasses to say that there aren’t some people who are
literally stuck due to racists systems. Opportunity was greatly limited during segregation in the
American South, for example, or in South Africa’s apartheid. Countless other groups, due either
to injustice (Christians in most of the world), evil or corrupt governments (ex: North Korea and
most of the Third World), or poor economic conditions (some parts of Appalachia), face serious
barriers that are not overcome by simple hard work.
A few in America suffer to this degree, but most can be found in the Third World.
Another group of people I’d put in this list are those crippled by medical bills for necessary
treatments and/or unable to do anything to alleviate the situation.
3) Poverty from Stupidity or Sin.
This is a great American expenditure as many Americans engage in financial stupidity by buying
things they don’t need, not saving for emergencies, buying new cars, and a plethora of other
unwise financial practices.
Some poverty comes from sin. There’s the sin of lust for material things we can’t afford,
that not only leads to poverty, but like a weed chokes out the work of God in our lives.
Poverty can also comes from a lack of industry and the Bible ties this idea of work to the
notion of eating.
The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing, but the soul of the diligent shall be
made fat. -Prov. 13:4.
For even when we were with you, this we commanded you: that if any would not work, neither
should he eat.
For we hear that there are some among you who walk disorderly, working not at all, but are
Now those who are such, we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ that they work with
quietness and eat their own bread.-2. Thes. 3:10-12
So that lack of industry, to not only work, but do your best at what you work at, keeps people in
Is poverty good? It can be for a season or for some people, even a lifetime. It can make us
appreciative of all that we have. By not seeking things and sacrificing of ourselves, we can serve
God and we also get closer to Christ who gave himself for us that we might live. We can learn
that God is our provide no matter what our economic strata.
Sometimes, it’s an unavoidable fact of life at times of illness, injury, and economic hardship, and
it is at that time, that the Church of Christ must come and lift up it’s suffering members. Because
we’re promised that there’ll be tribulation.
Poverty is not in itself righteous and riches are not in themselves sinful. It’s how they’re gained
and how they’re used that determines whether they’re pleasing or displeasing to God.
We then move to define, what is gender?
Definitions of gender on the Web:
A grammatical category in inflected languages governing the agreement between nouns and
pronouns and adjectives; in some languages it is quite arbitrary but in Indo-European languages
it is usually based on sex or animateness sex: the properties that distinguish organisms on the
basis of their reproductive roles; "she didn't want to know the sex of the foetus"
Gender is the wide set of characteristics that are seen to distinguish between male and female
entities, extending from one's biological sex to, in humans, one's social role or gender identity. As
a word, it has more than one valid definition. ...
A gendér is a type of metallophone used in Balinese and Javanese gamelan music. It consists of
10 to 14 tuned metal bars suspended over a tuned resonator of bamboo or metal, which are
tapped with a mallet made of wooden disks (Bali) or a padded wooden disk (Java). ...
Gondar or Gonder (Ge'ez: ጎንደር Gōnder, older ጐንደር Gʷandar, modern pronunciation Gʷender) is a
city in Ethiopia, which was once the old imperial capital and capital of the historic Begemder
province. As a result, the old province of Begemder is sometimes referred to as Gondar. ...
The Gender is a stream in the Dutch province of Noord-Brabant. It originates in originally
marshy flatlands near Steensel and flows through Veldhoven and its eastern district
Meerveldhoven in a general east-northeast direction towards Eindhoven.
In linguistics, grammatical genders, sometimes also called noun classes, are classes of nouns
reflected in the behavior of associated words; every noun must belong to one of the classes and
there should be very few which belong to several classes at once.
A gender role is a theoretical construct in the social sciences and humanities that refers to a set
of social and behavioral norms that, within a specific culture, are widely considered to be
socially appropriate for individuals of a specific gender. ...
A division between classes or kinds. E.g., the common gender; differences between men and
women, suggesting but not necessitating reference to sex; gender role; culture specific
behaviour norms, normally but not necessarily, associated with one’s sex; condition of adopting
such a gender role; A . en.wiktionary.org/wiki/gender.
The theory that women's lesser involvement in crime can be attributed to their socialization into
traditional roles within the family and in society.
NAEP results are reported separately for males and females, based on students' self-reported
Gender is a system for allocating different elements in the sentence to the categories of
masculine, feminine and neuter. In English gender is seen only in the link between Pronouns
such as she and Nouns such as Susan, in other languages it affects Agreement of adjectives and
Verbs with nouns. homepage.ntlworld.com/vivian.c/Linguistics/LinguisticsGlossary.htm
refers to the different roles and responsibilities attributed to men and women in society. It does
not only mean the biological definition of sex as male and female, but also how these biological
definitions are constructed in a social context, subject to historical and cultural
A social difference that may vary according to the times and the society or group one belongs to,
and which are learned or attributed by women and men. Gender is a broader concept than the
mere biological differences between men and women.
But according to ELDIS:
What is gender?
'Gender' refers to the socially constructed roles of and relations between men and women, while
'Sex' refers to biological characteristics which define humans as female or male. These biological
characteristics are not mutually exclusive however, as there are individuals who possess both.
'Gender relations' are characterized by unequal power. 'Gender norms' assign specific
entitlements and responsibilities to men and women - for example, women might be expected to
take on caring or domestic duties and remain close to home, while men may be expected to be
the main breadwinner, working outside the home, with greater freedom to move around in
public places. Gender inequality persists - this has implications for women's capacity to benefit
from global trade policy
This is known as the gendered division of labour. In all countries of the world, women continue
to exist in roles and relationships that often make them subordinate to men, because they are
paid less than men for the same work, because their movements are restricted, or because they
are not permitted to take on higher status work. Acceptable 'gender roles', like those outlined
above, are often translated into economic policies and activities. Despite the fact that many
governments have ratified international gender instruments such as CEDAW (Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women), gender inequality persists. This has
implications for women's capacity to benefit from global trade policy.
We shall then proceed to look at sources of gender inequality:
Gender is a social construct and can be changed:
Biological sex differences are very few and are unimportant in terms of determining
Gender inequalities are socially determined
As social constructs gender inequalities can be changed.
Gender means both women and men:
Discrimination based on gender affects both women and men adversely.
Addressing gender inequality to redress discrimination against both women and men
requires actions by both women and men to challenge their existing attitudes, privilege
Nevertheless in the current situation gender inequality affects women more adversely
than men. This justifies prioritizing attention to those inequalities which affect women.
Gender inequality can be caused by:
Perception - Women being associated to being the home makers, child bearing and not
being percived to being able to occupy political or highly paying jobs. This can be seen
some Arab countries where the women’s face can not even be see.
Son Preference - In most Asian countries (China, Japan), couples favor the birth of male
children and we find that the girl child is not accorded much suport and is most likely to
be aborted even before birth. Whilst on the other hand, when Parents divorce, most of
them decide to go with the male child/ren, which affects the uprbringing of the girl child
as neither parent is really willing to take total responsibility of the girl child.
Education - Lack of access to education or early pregnancies affect the life of many young
grils who end up dropping ou tof school and becoming young mothers. If they do not go
back to school, they end up being poor and having to bring up a child alone, which in most
cases is not viable.
Employment and total work – When women do work for pay, they earn about 80% of
the pay that men receive when working full time. Additionally, women work part time
more frequently than men, which also shows in their earnings. It is difficult to get
comparative data from developing cpuntries, but there is no doubt that women’s earning
status relative to men’s is even lower. Women are said to work longer hours compared to
men and total working time for men and women is found to be on average almost
identical in the richer countries. Women are mentioned to do more work than men in
africa and in Southern European Countries. Economic development sems to be associated
with more equal sharing of working time, even if the earnings gap has not equalized even
in the richer countries.
Decision Making Power – Until relatively recently, women have been afforded lass
decisions making power and fewer lgeal rights than men in all a social arenas. In
developing countries, laws of inheritance and ownership generally disfvor women more
than in developed countries, which may be a significant factor affecting the financial
resources women have at their disposal. At the political level, women also have less
voices. A hundred years ago, women were without right to vote anywhere in the world. In
the US, the struggle for women’s suffrage started in th emid 1800’s by Susan B. Anthony
and several other women who joined forces with black men – the latter gaining the right
to vote before the white women, who achieved their goal only in 1920. One of the first
countries in the world to introduce universal suffrage was Finlad in the 1906 Parliament
Act ( Source: ww.eduskunta.fi). what we see that women hold between 5-15% of the
higher positions. Finland and Sewden are exceptions, with about a third of the ministerial
positions held by women. In developing countries, women frequently hold less than five
percent of the higher ranking positions in the society with an exception to the rule of
Uganda - The 7th Parliament of Uganda has 74 women Members of Parliament (MPs): 13
County Representatives, 56 District Women Representatives, and 5 Special Interests
Representatives (source – google). I n Rwanda we find that Women who contested in
Rwanda’s second parliamentary elections since the 1994 Genocide, held on 15–18
September 2008, have secured 45 out of 80 seats, or 56.25 percent, making the incoming
Parliament the first in the world to have women in the majority (source - google).
However, most recent data on women’s share in parliaments (lower or single house)
reveals a steady increase in women’s share globally. In the past 10 yrs, the number of
countries in which women’s share is more than 20 percent has increased from 20 to 50
(source: http://www.ipu.org/wmn-e/arc/classif310107.htm). The recently passed
Kenyan constitution mandates for women to have more representation in both the lower
and upper houses. There are also 12 speacial seats which have been reserved for women
in parlimanent. This show a trend of chnaging mentally in many african but more so in
developing countries as they begin to view the important role women can play in the
counstruction and development of a nation.
To correct this imbalance, there was an estblishment of an International Women’s
Rights under Cedaw which refers:
Women's Rights have been established by International agreements which have ensured
that women are treated as 'human' and hence included covered by International Human
Rights Conventions. In particular women's human rights are specified in the international
Convention on Eradication of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) adopted by the
UN Assembly in 1979 to which most countries are signatories.
Rights to life, liberty, security of person and freedom from violence and degrading
treatment and freedom of movement.
Legal equality and protection by the law including equal rights in marriage including
women’s equal rights to make decisions in their family regarding property, marriage and
children, property and resources.
Right to own property and freedom from deprivation of property.
Freedom of thought, opinion and association.
Right to work, freedom from exploitation and right to rest and leisure.
Right to a standard of living adequate for health and right to education including special
care for mothers.
These rights grant to women rights which most men would take for granted as the ideal, if not
the reality for many poor men, men from ethnic minorities or living under oppressive regimes.
Labour Force Participation Rate, 2009.
Labor Force Participation Rate
WORLD Developed Central and East Asia South-East South Asia Latin Middle East North Africa Sub-
Economies South Asia and America Saharan
and Eastern the Pacific and the Africa
European Europe Caribbean
Union (non-EU) &
Source - Http://genderstats.worldbank.org
Projected Changes in Female Unemployment – Selected Regions 2008-2009.
4.0 Scenario 1 Upper bound
Change in unemployment rate (percentage point)
Male Female Male Female Male Female Male Female Male Female Male Female Male Female
Developed Central & South- East Asia South Asia Latin America & Middle East North Africa
Economies & Eastern Europe the Caribbean
European Union (non-EU) & CIS
urce - Http://genderstats.worldbank.org
Changes in Venerable Employment, 2008 – 2009.
Changes in Vulnerable Employment (000')
WORLD Developed Central and East Asia South-East South Asia Latin Middle East North Sub-
Economies South Asia and America Africa Saharan
and Eastern the Pacific and the Africa
-2'000 European Europe Caribbean
Union (non-EU) &
Source - Http://genderstats.worldbank.org
Female labor force statistics -- 143 low- and middle-income economies
Labor participation rate, female (% of female population ages
15+) 91.6% 91.7%
Labor force participation rate, female (% of female
population ages 15-64) 91.6% 91.6%
Labor force, female (% of total labor force) 90.6% 90.3%
Total employment, female (ages 15+) 81.9% 86.7%
Female labor force statistics -- 143 low- and middle-income economies
Share of women employed in the nonagricultural sector (%
of total nonagricultural employment) 35.7% 35.2%
Unemployment, female (% of female labor force) 30.8% 33.7%
Employees, agriculture, female (% of female employment) 27.0% 32.0%
Employees, industry, female (% of female employment) 27.0% 32.0%
Employees, services, female (% of female employment) 27.0% 32.0%
Wage and salaried workers, female (% of females employed) 26.1% 31.2%
Self-employed, female (% of females employed) 26.0% 31.0%
Contributing family workers, female (% of females
employed) 24.2% 30.2%
Vulnerable employment, female (% of female employment) 22.2% 28.0%
Female labor force statistics -- 143 low- and middle-income economies
Unemployment, youth female (% of female labor force ages
15-24) 22.6% 25.6%
Unemployment with primary education, female (% of female
unemployment) 21.0% 25.5%
Unemployment with secondary education, female (% of
female unemployment) 19.0% 23.3%
Unemployment with tertiary education, female (% of female
unemployment) 20.9% 25.3%
Female labor force statistics -- 143 low- and middle-income economies
Economically active children, female (% of female children
ages 7-14) 4.0% 7.8%
Child employment in agriculture, female (% of female
economically active children ages 7-14) 1.7% 3.1%
Child employment in manufacturing, female (% of female
economically active children ages 7-14) 1.7% 3.1%
Child employment in services, female (% of female
economically active children ages 7-14) 1.7% 3.1%
Long-term unemployment, female (% of female
unemployment) 4.8% 2.8%
Economically active children, study and work, female (% of
female economically active children, ages 7-14) 1.7% 2.7%
Economically active children, work only, female (% of female
economically active children, ages 7-14) 1.7% 2.7%
Where the gaps are greatest:
Low income economies Coverage 1990-2007 Coverage 2000-2007
Afghanistan 12.7% 13.0%
Korea, Dem. Rep. 16.7% 16.7%
Comoros 16.9% 16.7%
Myanmar 16.9% 16.7%
Mozambique 17.1% 16.7%
Lower middle-income economies
China 18.8% 16.7%
Iraq 16.7% 17.2%
Timor-Leste 16.7% 17.2%
Angola 16.9% 17.2%
Congo, Rep. 16.9% 17.2%
Upper middle-income economies
Lebanon 16.7% 16.7%
Gabon 19.4% 16.7%
Libya 16.7% 17.2%
Suriname 32.4% 18.2%
Serbia 9.3% 20.8%
Gender statistics at the World Bank:
The Kenyan trade Policy:
Kenya’s trade policy development has evolved through the following distinct policy orientations:
import Substitution Policies (1960s -80s); Trade Liberalization through Structural Adjustment
Policies (SAPs) (1980s); Export Oriented Policies 1990s.
Presently Kenya’s Trade regime is guided by market-driven principles of liberalization under the
World Trade Organization (WTO), which came into effect in 1995 and the increased efforts in
the regional economic integration that has resulted in the establishment of the East African
Community (EAC), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa COMESA) and the Inter-
governmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
Progressive liberalization in Kenya has significantly reduced tariff levels, licensing requirements
and eliminated price controls leading to modest growth in export markets. However, despite the
open trade policy pursued, Kenya’s trade structure, remains concentrated in primary products
and traditional markets due to limited capacity for value addition in the manufacturing sector
and the relatively underdeveloped intermediate and capital goods industries.
The deepening and expansion of regional integration and bilateral trade agreements have
widened the scope of trade opportunities for the Kenyan businesses. Kenya therefore, has the
potential to become a more competitive player in the region and global economy if factors
affecting competitiveness are addressed.
The essence of the Trade policy on international trade, therefore, is to lay strategies to enhance
export growth through value addition in export oriented manufactures, agri- businesses and in
the services as well as pursuing diversification to fully exploit the export opportunities in the
Trade plays a significant role in the country’s growth and development through its linkages with
all the sectors of the economy by creating markets through which goods and services get to the
consumer. Trade also plays a critical role in poverty reduction through employment creation in
informal, retail, and wholesale trade and provides MSMEs with opportunities of accessing more
favorable prices in international markets thereby ensuring equitable income distribution.
The current Trade Policy instruments are contained in various policy documents and legislations
and are administered by various institutions. In the process of implementation, these trade
policy instruments have faced problems of effective coordination and harmonious decision-
making leading to conflicting rules, regulations and practices affecting trade.
The National Trade Policy takes cognizance of the existing policies and the need to develop a
coherent trade policy, with a view to creating a policy environment that facilitates the
development of private sector. It highlights constraints and challenges in international and
domestic trade within the context of existing trade policies, identifies strategies and
programmes to sustain the economy within the tenets of Vision 2030.
The National Trade Policy Vision is to make Kenya an efficient domestic market and export led
globally competitive economy while the Mission is to facilitate Kenya’s transformation into a
competitive export led economy, enhance regional integration and widen participation in both
domestic and international trade.
The Trade Policy mission will be achieved through the following broad objectives:
(i) To pursue a more open, competitive and export oriented policies that are compatible
with the Country’s National development objectives.
(ii) To create an enabling environment for trade and investment to thrive
The policy recognizes international trade as a strategic priority in realizing the objectives of
raising business productivity; encouraging increased international trade and investment;
stimulating and supporting MSMEs to participate more in international trade; enhancing the
competitiveness in both the export and domestic markets; addressing market distortions;
encouraging value additions and diversification; and improving market access. It has equally
identified various programmes for implementation in order to address the constraints and
challenges affecting the country’s development of international trade.
Some of the main constraints and challenges in international trade include;
(i) Limited capacity for diversification and low value addition in production,
(ii) Increased use of non-tariff barriers in export markets;
(iii) Lack of competitiveness due to inefficient trade facilitation infrastructure,
(iv) Limited availability of affordable trade finance,
(v) Limited negotiation capacity and uncoordinated negotiation process;
(vi) Preference erosion, among others.
The domestic trade policy aims at improving business environment and elaborates the
government role and that of the private sector in trade and investment promotion. The policy
further recognizes and encourages public-private partnership in implementing various
programmes and activities. The distinct domestic trade elements covered in the policy include:
Distribution and Wholesale Trade; Retail Trade and Informal Trade. Some of the key challenges
include un-conducive licensing and regulatory framework; high transportation costs; inadequate
logistics and ICT capacities and skills; access to affordable credit; inadequate business
management skills; weak supply chains; and poorly serviced business premises, among others.
In addition to international and domestic trade policies there are a range of other trade-related
policy issues that arise in the implementation of core programmes. These include consumer
protection; competition; fair trade; investment issues; intellectual property rights; trade and
environment; trade and gender; trade and labour standards; democratization and trade
promotion; and dispute settlement mechanisms.
The policy covers e-commerce which is prioritized in the Kenya’s Vision 2030 which seeks to
mainstream e-Trade within the overall economy. In order for this to be achieved, the
government will focus on infrastructure development; market improvement; skills and
technology upgrading; improved financial transactions; and improved Public Private
Partnerships for the sub-sector.
In order to have a coherent and integrated national trade policy, the linkage and synergy of both
domestic and international trade policy are important. In order to achieve its objectives the
National Trade Policy prioritizes and sequences issues to be addressed as follows: policy and
regulatory framework; infrastructure development; institutional strengthening; market
development; and trade finance support.
Gender and poverty:
This shifts focus from the entire household and looks at an individual ‘the woman’ who is most affected
by poverty. This is due to the inequalities in the distribution of income, access to productive inputs such
as credit facilities, command over property and control over earned income as well as gender biases in
the labour market. What we find is that women do not have full control of how income is spent within the
household and neither do they have full control over their labour nor over the income they earn. Women
who find themselves on polygamous marriages are most likely to be poor because of circumstances
surrounding that engagement (the man may be earning less income or living on pension, hence not being
in a strong position to support the marriage as he already has another family to feed). Most developing
countries are agricultural based and most women find themselves working in agricultural sectors like in
horticulture faming and the EPZs. Most women get easily sacked due to the mere fact of not joining
unions and hence, they are not protected in the employment front. Over the years, what we find in Kenya
is that most women find themselves in small trading like selling second hand clothes (mitumbas), owning
a small kiosk next to the homestead as the husbands are rather protective of their wives being seen
talking to other men or trading at the local market. What happens is that these women may be well the
bread winners of their homes; they have to put food on the table at the end of the day whilst their so
called husbands engage in alot of idleness and careless drinking of the same money they take back home
at the end of the day.
The Impact of Trade Liberalization on Gender Inequalities:
Many nations are embracing women empowerment and have come up with projects which
promote development through exports so that they can empower as many women as possible.
This has been made possible through developing the manufacturing sector and semi-
industrialized economies, although research is sparse, case studies suggest that trade
liberalization is predominantly agricultural economies may disadvantage women compared to
men, even when traditional export crop production increases.
Women do not have access to a lot of income and this reduces their access to large export
markets due to minimal production; We hence find that trade can be liberalized to ensure that
women have access to credit facilities and are therefore able to produce in large quantities for
export purposes. Although this may happen, we still find that most women especially those
working in export processing zones (EPZs) exempted from labour laws and in the informal
sector, where work is characterised by long hours, insecure employment, unhealthy working
conditions, low wages and often, sexual harassment. This therefore simply means that any trade
liberalization must look at its impact not only on women’s paid employment opportunities,
including wages and working conditions but also on the unpaid economy. The 1999 Human
Development Report ties intensification of international competition to a squeeze in the
provision of care both unpaid and paid care activities, which in turn jeopardizes human
The Impact of Gender Inequalities on Trade Performance.
Gender based inequalities in control over resources such as land, credit and skills not only
hinder women’s ability to take advantage of new opportunities created in trade liberalization,
but also constrain the output response and thus the export capacity of the whole economy.
Gender inequalities in education, health and access to farm inputs often dampen output,
productivity and growth rates, and thus hinder export performance, particularly in agricultural
economies dominated by small holders. Indeed, research has shown that gender-based
inequality in households acts to constrain output capacity in sub-Saharan African Economies. We
however find a contrast in the fact that growth rates have been stimulated from the
manufacturing sector by women through industrial growth as opposed to us seeing a shortage in
output and productivity within the export sector. We find that trade and investment
liberalization offers incentives to countries for them to repress women’s wages to stay
competitive and attract foreign investment, since firms can always find a country where wages
Constraints on Gender Sensitive Trade Policies.
It is increasingly recognised that trade policies have gender – differentiated impacts and that
gender inequalities affect trade performance, gender awareness is not a factor in the negotiation
of trade agreement and policies. In addition to the ideological constraints, most of which derive
from the insistence that expansion of markets and increased market incorporation of women
and poor people translate into higher income and well-being, there are however a number of
Women and their voices are largely absent in trade policy-making institutions, despite
numerous UN resolutions and agreements requiring gender mainstreaming in policies,
programmes and institutions, including those relating to trade. This requires serious
deliberations at the global level for such a structure to be put into place and to see how WTO can
be reformed to carry out some of the needed functions. Ministries of trade must strengthen their
capacity for gender sensitivity and work more closely with the ministries of women’s’ affairs,
which in turn must be upgraded in terms of resources, expertise and political status. While it is
true that gender inequality will not be eliminated solely through more gender-aware trade
policies, it is also true that an understanding of the relationship between gender inequality and
trade policy can help policy-makers understand why the expected results from trade
liberalization may not come about.
The Human development Paradigm, gender Inequalities and Poverty.
Although trade policy formulation over the last two decades has been dominated by market
liberization, a number of people – centred approaches to development have also emerged,
including the human development paradigm , the human rights discourse and feminist
economics (see UNDP 2000a; Elson 1997). While these frameworks are distinctive in some
respects, they share a central focus on those suffering from injustice, inequality and power
imbalances. Their acceptance signals from an emphasis on growth and efficiency as the ultimate
goals of economic development to a focus of well being, equity, dignity and the freedom to
develop and realize one’s human potential. They emphasize that while growth is critical for
sustained poverty reduction; equally critical is the nature of growth generated/ to be develop-
mentally beneficial, growth must be socially equitable, pro-poor people and environmentally
sustainable (UNDP 1996, 1997; White and Anderson 2000).
Gender and Trade:
The analysis of the relationship between gender inequalities and trade policies and trade make
flows is an entry point for an investigation that takes a broader view of development, poverty
and well-being. Gender is important not only for its own sake as a human rights issue, but also
because of the interaction between gender inequalities, on the one hand, and the dynamics of
growth, class-based inequality and poverty, on the other. Economists and others working on
gender and development have been carrying out research on the multifaceted relationships
between gender inequalities and trade patterns for at least the last two decades, principally
focussing on gendered employment and employment conditions associated with export-
orientation. The conceptual entry points can be summarized as follows:
1) Gender relations influence the distribution of output, work and income wealth and power.
2) Gender influences the economic behaviour of agents. Men and women do not always respond in
the same way to similar economic phenomena.
3) Institutions, including ‘markets’ and the state transmit gender biases in economic life.
4) Labour is a produced input, whose costs of production and reproduction remain partly
indivisible as long as unpaid household labour, performed mostly by women, is not considered
part of economic activity. Unpaid work needs to be made visible and the economic meaning of
work redefined to include unpaid household labour in order that economic analysis is not
misleading. For example, what may appear to be “efficient” from a market focussed analysis
maybe socially inefficient once full labour accounting and time-use are considered.
A number of recent studies have shown that women’s participation in paid employment has
risen around the globe within the last two decades, corresponding to a period of trade
liberalization in developing countries. While the increase in female participation in paid
employment has had causes other than trade, the increased openness of individual countries to
the world economy has had an unmistakable gender dimension. What has been is that in most
industrialized economies, increased trade with developing countries has led to the loss of
employment industries such as textiles, apparel and leather goods where women are over-
represented. This is not surprising in view of the gender based patterns of employment in most
countries. In the case of the manufacturing sector, women are crowded in narrow range of
sectors that produce standardized commodities which compete on the basis of price alone.
Production generally relies upon labour-intensive techniques, misappropriation use of unskilled
labour and suncontyractin chains. Thus, just as the increase in exports of manufactured goods
has created an increase in women’s share paid employment in developing countries especially in
industrialized economies. What we however find happening is the there is feminization of
employment through export orientation is more common in the manufacturing sector and in
semi-industrialised economies than in agricultural-based economies. Whereby the liberization
with an increase in women’s share of paid employment in the export sector that occurs in these
economies has led some analysts to conclude that such liberization is beneficial to women in
these economies, helping to close the gender gaps in employment and wages. However, in these
economies, there are reasons under which the increase in women’s paid employment takes
place. There are four main principal causes of concern:
a) Liberalization creates ‘winners and ‘losers’ among women even if there is a net gain in women’s
employment compared to men.
b) Conditions such as job security, health and occupational safety and pay may not improve for
women as they make relative gains in employment, indeed, they may deteriorate under the
pressure of international competitors.
c) Feminization of employment may be temporary phenomena which may be reversed at later
stages of export-promotion as exports move up the skill ladder.
d) The overall expansion of women’s paid work may be viewed as potentially empowering to
women, this also spells an increase in women’s overall work burdens, as increases in women’s
paid work are accompanied by a similar reduction in their paid household labor.
While women’s employment might show a net gain in the aggregate, import competition caused
by trade liberization also leads to loss of employment for those women, depending on the
sectoral reallocation of work. In india, for example, employment losses were found to be largely
in informal sector, while the gains were concentrated among skilled workers (Winters 1999). In
general, if those losing employment as a result of import competition are concentrated in formal
work, among small farmers, in small firms and among low-skilled workers, poor women are
likely to suffer disproportionally, just as other women make inroads into paid work. The impact
can be even greater as safety nets grow thinner and remain gender biased.
Trade liberization andWorking Conditions:
It has been noted that in developing countries in the last two decades, that trade liberization has
been directly linked with women being concentrated in different occupations and industries that
men are – that is, that labor markets are segmented by gender- and positions that change is the
gender composition of labour come about when the composition of aggregate output changes,
this can be taken as an indirect link. Female participation in paid employment rises as the share
of those sectors where women are over-represented increases. The other area where women
come in is when they take up jobs that are primarily meant to be ‘male’ – the substitution
hypothesis. We find that, one of the main points of contention has been whether feminization of
the labour force comes about through a process of change in the composition of output or
through substitution of women for men. However, with intensified global competition, supply-
side macroeconomics and deregulation, employers have tried to ensure a more ‘flexible’ labour
force by substituting lower paid women workers for men. Feminization is therefore viewed not
only as an increased share of women in paid employment, but also as the transformation of male
jobs where the conditions of work associated with them converge with the conditions associated
with women’s work. In this view, we can say that, feminization and flexibility are interlinked.
The 1980s might be labeled the decade of deregulation. It has also marked a renewed surge of
feminization of labour activity….the types of work, labor relations, income and insecurity
associated with ‘women’s work’ have been spreading, resulting not only in the notable rise as
well as transformation – or feminization- of many jobs traditionally held by men ( Standing
1989:1077). The rise in women’s participation in paid employment implies that they have
greater control over income, which can potentially enhance their autonomy and negotiating
power. Proponents of trade liberization make this case, arguing that gender-based wage gaps
have decreased with women’s rise in paid employment (e.g Tzannatos 1992).
Trade liberization is typically accompanied by reductions in government spending and increased
privatization of services of services, including health care, obliging women to take on these
responsibilities and/ or forgo services. The expansion of trade liberization agreements to cover
intellectual property rights has additional has additional consequences for health care, drugs
needed for basic health are prohibited from subsidized production of generic substitutes. A well
known example is the controversy around the availability of affordable drugs for the treatment
of HIV/AIDS, as the imposition of patent rights restricts governments from either producing
importing cheaper alternatives. The direct adverse effects on women and men who suffer from
HIV/AIDS is obvious. However this is a pandemic which spreads more easily to women and also
has the consequence of increasing women’s work burden within the household to provide care
to those suffering from the disease.
Another way in which trade liberization can affect women’s unpaid labour time is through its
impact on the environment. In many countries, it is women, especially poor rural women, who
are responsible for the management of biological and livelihoods and are also responsible for the
collection of water and fuelwood from such sources. If trade liberization results in
environmental degradation and a reduction of biodiversity, women will have to devote more
time to these tasks.
Liberalization and the Fiscal capacity of the State.
There are negative social consequences which are brought about by trade liberization which
many governments have not been to mitigate and find solutions to. Most governments end up
not being able to provide protection to their most venerable citizens by reducing government
revenues. In addition, market liberization policies and ideologies have advocated a minimalist
state. Trade liberization deprives many governments of a significant source of revenue. This has
also been accompanied in many countries by fiscal retrenchment, privatization, or institution of
regressive user fees or indirect taxes. Governments on the other hand are forced to give tax
breaks in order to attract foreign capital and they end up shifting the burden of taxation from
footloose capital to labour and the world economy (Grunberg 1998: Watchtel 2001).
We find that when social services are reduced, or user fees charged, poor people and women
suffer. Women suffer doubly because, on the one hand, they benefit less publicly provided
services such as education, health care, clean water and the like, and, on the other hand, their
work burden in the form of unpaid household work and care labour may increase to make up for
the shortfall. It is therefore, small consolation to poor woment and men whose livelihoods suffer
as a result of import competition that trade reforms brings overall gains that can potentially be
used to compensate their losses. It is sometimes argued that people living in poverty never had
sufficient access to publicly provided goods in the first place and that therefore they could not
have lost what they never had. This kind of reasoning betrays a narrow ‘winner’ and ‘loser’
approach and demonstrates only how long the citizenship rights of women and poor people
have been ignored. The effects of the fiscal squeeze on their wellbeing have to be evaluated not
ony against the miserable baseline of what they did not have, but laso against their legal and
ethical entitlements as citizens and human beings as well as against national and international
commitments to economics, social, political, civil and cultural rights.
The Paradox behind trade Liberization.
The implications of these patterns is that trade expansion has ambiguous and contradictory
gender effects. The point is not only that some women lose their livelihood while others make
gains in paid employment. Rather, as gender inequalities and power relations are
multidimensional and interrelated, even the women who may be making gains in some
dimensions such as employment may be losing in other dimensions, such as leisure time, or
facing a deterioration of their health conditions through their work in hazardous workplaces.
This whole debate of feminization of the labour force is empowering to women reveals the
multiple social inequalities that poor women, especially face. One the one hand, paid
employment has the potential to provide them with greater control over their income and
increase their status and bargaining power within households or communities. We find that
women spend a higher percentage of their income on family nutrition, health and education as
compared to men, women’s increased control over is likely to increase their well-being and
children within households. Women being recruited and being paid less as they are considered
inferior in comparison to their male counterparts has got to be resolved, particularly where poor
women are concerned requires collective action and multi-dimensional public policies which
help empower women in different spheres of economic and political life.
Empowerment has been a centre element in the evaluation of the gendered impacts of trade,
owing to the fact that the human development paradigm, rights based approaches and feminist
approaches to development share the common goals of realization of citizenship rights,
particularly of women, and expansion of capabilities and freedom to realize one’s potential as a
human being. Accordingly, even if women are not regarded as ‘losers’ from trade liberalization
in the traditional sense (income and consumption), another consideration is whether trade
liberization creates incentive structures that put their human rights and capabilities into further
jeopardy. Indeed, some of the findings on the impact of gender inequalities on trade
performance indicate such a possibility.
The impact of Gender Inequality on Trade Performance and Policy Outcome.
As earlier noted in the discussion on predominantly agricultural based economies, gender-based
inequalities in control over resources such as land, credit and knowledge not only hinder the
ability of women to take advantage of new opportunities presented by trade liberization, but
also constrain the output response and thus the export capacity of the whole economy. Gender
based inequalities in education, health access to farm inputs are found to dampen output,
productivity and growth rates (Hill and King 1995; Klasen 1999;IFPRI 2000; Quisumbing 1996).
Since productivity and growth rates affect trade performance, these gender inequalities hinder
successful export performance, particularly in agricultural economies where smallholder
producers are predominant. Indeed, research has shown that gender-based inequality in
households acts to constrain output capacity (the ‘muted’ supply response) in sub-Saharana
African economies (see, e.g., Darity 1995; Warner and Campbell 2000).
But, in contrast, some export-oriented semi-industrailized countries, gender inequalities in
manufacturing wages have operated to stimulate investment and so lead to higher growth rates
(Seguino 2000). Thus, while most dimensions of gender inequality (e.g, in Health, education,
skills and training, e;t;c) constrain productivity, growth and output and indirectly hinder trade
performance, wages inequality appears to have a positive impact on growth in the context of
international competition within the industrial sector.
Manufactured exports also differ in terms of employment, with developing country exports
being more female – intensive than industrialized country exports? As pointed out , gender
based wages differentials can affect terms of trade in that ‘low wages paid to women workers
have allowed the final product prices to be lower than what they would otherwise have been
without compromising the profit share. Empirical support for this thesis is provided by
Osterreich- Warner (forthcoming), who finds that gender-based wages gaps in a number of
semi-industrialized countries are concentrated in a relatively narrow range of occupations,
competing with each other through trade. Trade and investment liberization thus provide an
incentive to countries to repress women’s wages to stay competitive and to also attract foreign
investment, since firms can always find another country with a pool of women workers whose
bargaining power is weaker. This makes global empowerment of workers especially for women
workers, who tend to be concentrated in unorganized sectors including home-based production.
Consensus is lacking on the institutional channels through which labor standards should be
enforced and whether social clause or workers’ rights’ clauses are the best or even effective
ways to promote human rights of women as workers. Neither has there been sufficient debate
from a gender perspective among groups advocating against or for linkage.
Labor rights are not fundamental human rights; they also constitute an integral aspect of
development as viewed through the human development lens (A.Sen 2000).While it is often
argued that industrialized countries should not impose their norms on developing countries,
there is nothing about these rights that makes them suitable only for industrialized country
citizens. Countries of the South as well as those of the North have enshrined these through their
own laws. The problem is one of enforcing them. These supporting linkage points out that the
ILO lacks effective enforcement mechanism and that trade related measures would provide for
these. Such measures would include fines and assistance to countries for the improvement of
monitoring and enforcement mechanisms. Trade sanctions are proposed as a last resort.
However, the WTO has been mentioned to lack credibility of being the enforcer of workers’
rights in the global economy, since it generally overpowers the voices of developing countries
and excludes those from the civil society entirely. However, since the WTO has already widened
the scope of trade negotiations on behalf of capital – with such areas like intellectual property
rights (TRIPS) and investment measures (TRIMS) for example – opening the debate to the rights
of workers might at least provoke a debate. Dialogue on these issues can help clarify the kind of
WTO needed to support workers’ rights, as well as how regional trade arrangements can help
promote such rights, in ways that prohibit disguised protectionism. Such a debate, in turn, would
require gender-awareness with respect to trade, which is what gender advocates have been
working to bring about.
From a gender and poverty perspective, workers ability to collectively organize is critical. Part of
the reason for the perpetuation of poverty has to do with women’s lower wages compared to
men, with particularly adverse affects on poor women headed households. Low wages,
especially for women, also encourage greater reliance on child labor, which depletes capabilities,
health and well-being and further depresses adult wages in countries where child labor is
Countries that recognize and enforce labor standards do so as a result of long struggle, both for
compulsory public education and for labor market regulation. Part of this struggle was about
moral persuasion. Whilst the other part had to do with the recognition that while brutal
exploitation of workers might yield quick profit in the short run, whilst it would not be in the
interest of anyone, including the capitalist class, to rely on a mode of accumulation that depleted
the capabilities of its working class in the long run. On the supply side, a sustainable system of
production needs to generate capabilities and skills. Whilst on the demand side, mass markets
based on workers’ purchasing power are needed so that goods produced can be sold. In today’s
world economy, the emphasis has been on market access and completion in production.
However, if large numbers of countries try to compete, in the world economy on the basis of low
wages, a global glut is likely to occur Therefore, ensuring a mechanism through which workers
can collectively bargain over the condition of their work is not only a human right imperative,
but insofar as core standards help raise wages, it is necessary for the emergence of mass
markets. It is therefore important to have labor standards improved globally and control the
wages so that their isn’t a mismatch between wages vis a vis industrial countries.
Governments should not be the only ones responsible for labor laws, multinationals have got a
very important role to play when it comes to instilling labor laws. It has been noted that some
multinationals have had to adopt ethical codes of conduct due to numerous boycotts (John M.
Kline). The extent by which they can improve working conditions depends on the extent to
which they are enforced, making it critical for unions and other workers’ rights organizations to
monitor their compliance by individual countries as trading initiatives, by setting up alternative
trading organizations and fair-trade labeling movements (Barrientos 2000, Blowfield 1999,
Diller 1999). These are at best only partial solutions; which have nonetheless been useful in
raising public awareness on poor working conditions around the world.
Working conditions especially in developing countries have also been affected by trade policy
stance of industrialized countries. As noted at the outset, while many developing countries like
liberalized their trade regime, essential industrialized country markets remain closed t them,
especially within the textile, apparel and leather products. As these industries employ mainly
women, such protectionism operates to keep women’s’ employment and possibly wages lower
than they might otherwise be and thus to reinforce gender inequalities. In agriculture, subsidies
by industrialized countries make it especially difficult for small producers, which include the
majority of women in developing country markets in these areas might be more gender
equitable – though it is not clear which developing countries would capture the benefits.
Towards Gender-Sensitive Trade Policies.
It is increasingly recognized that trade policies have gender-differentiated impacts and that
gender inequalities affect trade performance. The Beijing platform of action, points out on the
need for more analysis of the impact of globalization of women’s economic status and the need
to ‘ensure that national policies related to international and regional trade agreements do not
adversely impact on women’s new and traditional economic activities (UN 1996, para 176).
However, gender awareness is not a factor in the negotiation of trade agreements and policies.
In addition to ideological constraints, most of which derive from the insistence that expansion of
markets and increased market incorporation of women and poor people translates into higher
income and well being, there are a number of institutional constraints on the incorporation of
gender perspective into these agreements.
The issue of governance where women and women’s voices are largely absent in trade policy
making institutions and very few men in such institutions acknowledge the relevance of gender
to trade policies, despite the numerous UN resolutions and agreements requiring gender
mainstreaming in all policies, programmes and institutions, including those related to trade.
Moreover, achieving more gender-equitable trade policies at the global level requires a serious
dialogue on the need for a new institutional structure and how the WTO can be reformed to
carry out some of the needed functions. In this regard, the efforts of women’s groups to insert
gender mainstreaming provisions in regional trade agreements can provide some guidance. The
Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC) is an example.
In Latin America, Mercosur, which unites Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay in a regional
common market, can also provide some lessons, if rather less encouraging ones. The pact was
initially drawn up with no intention to social issues or the concerns of working people. Under
pressure from organized labor, provisions for collective bargaining were introduced, especially
vis à vis multinationals. While unions negotiated a place for themselves at the negotiating table,
however, they joined the business community in resisting participation from the social sectors.
Thus women, who tend to be concentrated in sotors of the economy that are not represented by
Trade Unions, were not part of the process. However, a Women’s Commission was formed in
1997 within the regional labor confederation, which issued a set of demands to both organized
labor and government officials. Primary among these were the adoption of measures to
eliminate all forms of discrimination against women, the ratification of all ILO agreements
concerning women, and the implementation of commitments in the Beijing Platform. The
consultation process included amongst them NGOs, scholars and donor agencies as well as
business, labor and government representatives gender advisory unit was created within
Mercosur, designed to ensure that gender issues are dealt with by the alliance’s top decision-
making bodies 5Espino 2000).
What we deduce from above is that the effects of trade policies and trade performance are
complex and vary not only among different economies but also cross sectors and different social
classes of both men and women. The impacts of trade agreements by gender or on people living
in poverty are mediated by a whole host of factors related to the structural characteristics of the
economy, to macroeconomic or labour market policies as well as trade policies, and to the ways
in which gender relations permeate a specific economy. This makes it imperative that those
responsible for trade policy investigate these relationships in a country specific content.
Persistence in gender inequalities has resulted to trade liberalization due to gender based
impacts in the case of trade and poverty. It is equally important to remember that trade trade
policies themselves always have distributive effects, including those related to gender, that need
to be addressed through fiscal policy. At the same time, a deeper understanding of the
relationship between gender and other inequalities and trade policies would help policy-makers
understand why the expected results from trade liberalization may not come about. This would
enable them to take into account not only the complementary policy measures that need to be
taken along side trade but also the pace, scope and sequencing of trade liberization or even
continued protection in certain sectors. In some instances, the desire for global competitiveness
may jeopardize gender equality, requiring trade-offs between gender equality and trade
performance. In such areas, these tradeoffs need to be made explicit in order to design
alternative policies that ensure that successful export drives are not achieved at the expense of
gender equality. Such an analysis can also reveal the kinds of actions that need to be taken at the
global level. Many trade related issues have far-reaching implications for other areas, such as
investment and competition policies. Since gender relations in fact permeate all economic
structures, a gender analysis is necessary for all successful policy outcomes, including those in
what are called trade-related areas.
The Kenyan Scenario.
I visited some Nairobi environs ( Mathare North, Kamukunji and Kibera slums) and outskirts of
the same (Meru North and Vihiga) to find out how trade, poverty and gender inequality are
interrelated and my findings were quite similar to what I have just finished presenting.
Mathare North – It is mostly the women who are the traders and fend for the families. I visited
the market and out of 200 traders, 15 of them were women trying to make a living and finding
food for their families. What was however sad is that most of the men in this area were either
half drunk in broad daylight or simply sited outside a verandah watching and contemplating
their next move, whilst the women went about their business to try and fend for the families.
Hunger is a common thing among the children who play in open sewers. The girl child is
unprotected in this area as once she finishes her O levels, she has got in most cases very slim
chances of furthering her education. She ends up engaging in open idleness and finds herself
pregnant at a very tender age due to lack of parental guidance and falling prey to male neighbors
who lure her with as little as 100.00 Kshs. A sad affair for a girl who could be well very
intelligent but cannot progress further due to detrimental poverty. The boys end up as either
thieves or drug abusers and very few make it to mostly technical schools at the most.
Malnutrition is very high in such areas as most families would rather spend all their monies to
pay for their shelter and prefer to starve themselves. What they request the government to do is
to provide them with food subsidies but also provide them with basic food items such as unga,
maize and beans in order for them to be able to sustain healthy families.
Kamkunji – The trading centre at Kamkunji is a beehive of activities where we find many
women trading directly or indirectly in order to make a living. What is clear in this area is that
women are the most prominent traders and they fight hard to fend for their families.
Kibera Slums – This is another area where women have come out strongly in fending for their
families and protecting their children from malnutrition. We find them working very hard to see
to it that they put food on the table. They face challenges like their counterparts in Mathare
Meru North – This was a very interesting part of Kenya to visit. The women here are the ones
who go to the farm, fend and find for their families. I happen to have interrogated one of the
ladies and inquired whether their husbands provide for them. She mentioned sadly not as they
only provide to a certain level and leave the women to fend further but should they continue to
request for more funding, this is not lightly taken. They hence have to go out of their way to
ensure that their families are well fed. The most ironical thing is that the men dictate a lot of
polices and what the women should be doing irrespective of the fact that the women might be
the ones fetching more in terms of income. Most women requested if they could be assisted with
basic education on how to conduct investments, opening of a bank account and dietary advice
for women living with HIV/AIDS. This tells you that women are committed and play an active
role in the eradication of poverty within the family setup.
Vihiga – I found women to be very actively involved in trade in this beautiful part of Western
Kenya. Most of them were trading at the market while the gentlemen did the bodaboda business.
This demonstrates that the role of providing for the family has not been entirely left to the men
within the Kenyan setup. More and more women are taking up active roles to ensure that their
families are healthy and well looked after. Women have become major players within the family
setup and they therefore need to empowered in order to be able to do so much more effectively.
The main arguments and conclusions that emerge from the analysis presented in this paper are:
1. The human development paradigm has put human rights, which include economic, social
and cultural rights at the center of the development agenda, making it imperative to
promote the human rights of women and other social groups that suffer from
discrimination and social exclusion.
2. The paradigm has broadened the concept of poverty to include social inequalities
(including those based on gender) and powerlessness, recognizing that while growth is
important for poverty elimination, it is not sufficient and that poverty and social
inequalities often retard growth.
3. Despite the argument that trade liberalization leads to higher growth rates, the evidence
is inconclusive. Increased openness and the ability to export often follow growth (and
human development) rather than the other way around. Furthermore, the impact of trade
liberalization on trade performance and growth is mediated by many factors, including
social inequalities, technological capabilities, skills, macroeconomic and industrial
policies, geography and infrastructure.
4. Orthodox trade theories predict that in developing countries, wages of unskilled workers
should increase relative to those of skilled workers or the returns to labour should
increase relative to returns to capital, while the opposite should occur in industrialized
countries. Studies however found that in many developing countries, disparities between
skilled and unskilled workers have increased, while in some countries, the poorest
households have lost as a result of trade liberalization.
5. Gender relations and gender inequalities also mediate the relationship between trade
policies and trade performance. In general, men and women experience the impacts of
trade policies differently because of pervasive gender inequalities in economic life.
Gender inequalities sometimes constrain the capability of countries to increase their
exports while at other times they become an instrument of international competition.
6. Expansions of women’s employment has not led to a closing of gender-based wage gaps
and conditions of work do not seem to have improved. Women’s jobs are still insecure
and unstable, partly because expansion has occurred in the era of loss of power by
workers as a whole vis à vis capital. The second reason is due to the fact that an overall
increase in women’s employment disguise the sectoral reallocations that mean some
women, typically those with lower skill levels, lose employment and livelihoods while
others make inroads into paid employment for the first time. The other reason is we find,
the trend can be reversed as countries move up the technology and product ladder in
their manufactured exports. Women’s incorporation into pad labor generally has meant
an increase in their overall work burden as the increase in paid work is not accompanied
by a reduction in their unpaid domestic work. While women may be empowered within
the family as a result of their status as paid workers, they still have less bargaining power
vis à vis capital compared to men. Thus, trade expansion and trade liberalization have
contradictory effect on women’s well being and gender relations.
7. The dimensions of gender inequality which constrain developing countries eports
include command and control over income and assets, including in land and credit. Other
dimensions of gender inequality, most notable those related to wage gaps and working
conditions, have been found to positively contribute in semi-industrialized export-
oriented countries. In these instances, export successes and growth come at the expense
of gender equality and women’s human rights and may result in long-term adverse
affects on the terms of trade in developing nations.
8. Trade liberalization in particular and economic liberalization in general have constrained
the fiscal and administrative capacities of governments to address the adverse social
consequences of trade liberalization, leaving those who lose their livelihoods as a result
of import competition without any social protection.
The policy implications of these findings are likely to be different for different countries
and they also depend on the dimension of gender equity that is being addressed. The
impact of gender relations and gender inequalities on trade policy outcomes and the
impact of trade policies on gender equity are complicated and work through different
variables. More work is needed to investigate the dynamics of gender, poverty, trade and
growth in specific country contexts. In addition, there is an urgent need for a wide
dialogue among advocates, policy-makers and academics around issues related to
women’s and poor people’s rights to ensure that poor women rights, in particular, do not
get shortchanged I the rush to a liberalized trade regime. More specifically:
Recommendations which were made in the Beijing Platform of Action, states that
there is need to create greater gender awareness in the design and formulation of
trade policies. There needs to be gender mainstreaming and capacity building with
regard to gender awareness in trade ministries. The gender implications of all
issues under negotiation should be fully assessed and discussed within regional
and multilateral trade negotiations. One possible mechanism to further the
understanding between gender and trade is the inclusion of gender assessments in
trade review mechanisms.
Gender awareness in trade policy making formulations requires deepr and
contextualized understandings of interactions between gender inequalities, class-
based inequalities and poverty, on the one hand, and trade policies and trade
performance, on the other. Country-specific studies o the ways in which gender
relations and inequalities affect trade performance are needed.
The current trade and international financial privilege capital vis à vis labour and
the rights of investors take precedence over the human rights of the large majority
of citizens, especially those in developing countries. All institutions dealing with
trade policies and governments need to be made democratic and participatory.
Multinational corporations, which are major beneficiaries of the current trade
regime, should be monitored more effectively and made accountable and socially
Policy changes are unlikely to occur unless there is a substantive democratization
of policy-making at all levels. In particular, the voices of women and poor people,
which are largely missing from trade policy negociations, need to be heard and
respected. Consultations with working women’s groups, including those
representing workers in home-based industries and the informal sector need to be
What we can finally conclude to say is that the phenomenon of globalization, of
which trade liberalization is a major component, has so far proven to be a brutal
one for many. Long-standing critiques of market fundamentalism call for a
‘humanization of globalization (see HELLEINER 2000). This needs to start with
asking what the rights of each are and every human being and what obligations do
those who are privileged have towards the fulfillment of these tights. It is only
when we realize that there human beings behind the commodities we consume
that we begin to build a truly humane world economy and society.
Men and women are affected differently by trade policies and performance owing
to their different locations and command over resources within the economy.
Gender-based inequalities impact differently impact differently on trade policies
outcomes depending on the type of the economy and sector, with the result that
trade liberalization policies may not yield expected results.
Gender analysis is essential to the formulation of trade policies that enhance
rather than that which hinder gender equality and human development.
International has been harmonised to ensure conformity which promotes trade
for developed as well as developing countries. Trade barriers have been broken in
order to allow one’s countries exports to reach other countries. When trade is
enhanced, revenue is collected which is in turn used for national development and
poverty reduction as a whole. The measures which are currently being taken on
trade are stipulated on the basis of poor people, racial background and other
minorities and women. Trade must be similarly re-evaluated _ going beyond the
social impact of trade, based on growth and market access, to look at social
content, that is, the social relations across and within nations ( class, gender, race,
Trade now focuses on providing equality for all plus eradicating poverty in nations.
However, on the other hand, there is even greater insistence on economic liberalization –
specifically, that the best way to eliminate poverty is through improved efficiency and
higher growth brought about through trade linearization. This insistence is based on a
definition of poverty as absolute rather than relative and limited to income poverty only.
Poverty should be viewed as a process rather than a state of being, and those living in
poverty should be seen as deploying whatever assets they possess in an effort to cope
Women Empowerment – What Else we need to know:
Empowering Women to Number of
Compete in Markets Countries
Product Market Form Women’s' business, Percentage of women
purchasing, and transport belonging to professional
association associations 77
Increase access to business Percentage of established
services for women business owners, by gender
Increase access to credit and Percentage of women who
financial services have access to bank loans 87
Provide business start-up
Financial Market Support Self-help groups and
Provide gender sensitive
Provide market-based financial
Empowering Women to Number of
Compete in Markets Countries
Land Market Conduct social marketing of
property rights legislation
Solicit women's input into
legislative changes on land
holding and titling
Ensure women's full Percentage of women
participation in land who have access to
adjudication and registration land
Involve women and women's
groups in local natural resource
to Compete in Indicators
Markets Number of Countries
Labor Market Increase women's Percentage of those
access to training who have required
programs knowledge and skills to
start a business, by
Ensure non- Wage equality between
discrimination in labor women and men for
intermediation similar work (ratio) 147
Provide quality day Number of weeks of
care services and maternity leave
reduce their cost 165
Maternal leave benefits
(% of wages paid in
covered period) 160
(to migrants and