A recent World Trade Organisation Public Forum has emphasised the role of trade in empowering women.
A session at the Forum held in Geneva, Switzerland, concluded that trade can only be truly inclusive if women worldwide are empowered.
Despite the economic gains offered by trade, the session highlighted that many women lack confidence as well as technical and financial capacity to engage in trade.
Papua New Guinea was represented at that World Trade Organisation Public Forum by young entrepreneur Sharlene Gawi.
Ms Gawi shared a success story regarding 500 women who export locally produced string bags or bilums. She explained that a training programme has helped these PNG women overcome a range of challenges. Some examples of the challenges are the inability to enter workforce because of illiteracy or not knowing their birthdates.
Participants in the 2016 WTO Public Forum agreed that a combination of capacity building, financing, government policies and networking is needed for women to take full advantage of the opportunities offered by trade.
To help women access new markets, the panel called on the international community to tackle the challenges faced by women, particularly in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
The International Trade Centre introduced a new platform, SheTrades.com, which promotes the role of women in business by connecting buyers with women-owned enterprises worldwide.
It was also discussed that Governments have a responsibility to be enablers. The WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement can assist by stimulating cross-border trading and cutting red tape.