Improving gender equality in trade as a way of aiding development
Symposium on Inclusive Participation of Women in Trade, which took place in Nairobi in September, was co-organised by Professor Leïla Choukroune and attended by Nancy, who is a PhD Candidate in the Faculty of Business and Law.
The event attracted high-level dignitaries including Kenya’s Minister for Trade, UNCTAD Secretary General, Ambassadors and CEOs from various organisations across the globe. Various presentations were made by specialists ranging from information technology, data analyses and legal perspectives.
My paper was titled:’Legal Framework for Inclusion of Women in Trade: Case of the United Kingdom vis a vis Kenya.’ This was informed by the 2030 United Nations Agenda for Sustainable Development, which included 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aimed at ending poverty, hunger and inequality, supporting action on climate change, improving access to health and education, and building strong institutions and partnerships. The inclusion of a standalone goal (Goal 5) on women’s equality, as well as the mainstreaming of gender and inclusion through the other 16 goals, is a key achievement for the international community. Gender inequality in most spheres of development remains a major barrier to human development.
The presentation demystified the legal and institutional framework of the rights of women in trade, reasons for the shift from exclusion and marginalisation of women for many decades and an increase in inclusion by creation of relevant legislation and structures for women to gain active participation in trade. A comparative analysis and best practices was drawn between the United Kingdom, a country that has been ranked 16th in the world according to the 2018 Gender Inequality Index , and Kenya, which has been ranked 79, a developing economy which has a lot of room in which policymakers can improve participation of women in trade. Based on theoretical research, evidence shows that Kenyan women are currently participating in informal business contribution processes, despite their exclusion in formal processes. By relying on past successes of women trade negotiation processes and with the support of the international and local communities, women can seamlessly be integrated in the trade process without many uncalled for legal barriers.
The Conference was a great eye-opener for me in many aspects. I shared a platform with renowned dignitaries and much more experienced researchers hence another learning step. I was able to share and exchange contacts with other researchers in the legal and related field as well as get new insights on my career as a lawyer from an international perspective. I was proud to be a team member from the University of Portsmouth, but also as a Kenyan since the conference was in my country of origin.
The University of Portsmouth remains my unrivalled choice as an institution of higher education especially in the area of research. Indeed it was a great honour and experience.
The event was very successful, and Professor Choukroune is now working on the publication of the symposium papers and a search for long-term, external funding:
Gender equality is at the core of the Democratic Citizenship Theme. While women are greatly involved in trade, they do not always benefit from it. With its Partner Trade Mark East Africa, DC theme organised a major symposium gathering about 300 delegates from the East African Region, Europe and the Americas. In addressing the trade and gender issue, we propose to engage with governments and civil societies through a master classes, meetings and presentations
Nairobi, September 2019