From Europe to the World

Understanding Challenges for European Businesswomen

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Getting more women to trade beyond the European Union will require policies that go beyond trade. Policies are needed to get women to set up and grow their businesses in high-growth potential industries, enter export markets, and enjoy equal rights and opportunities in the labour market. Trade policymakers can be part of the solution, by leveraging the platform provided by free trade agreements. This report captures the links between women, companies they lead or work for, and trade outside the EU. Among the 1,118 firms surveyed in 12 EU countries, women are under-represented at all levels, and face various challenges. At multilateral, regional and domestic levels, policymakers are increasingly considering how women benefit from opportunities provided by free trade agreements, as well as to what extent trade policy instruments could promote gender equality. In recent years, other global-scale efforts, such as the International Trade Centre (ITC) SheTrades Initiative, have also taken a comprehensive approach to empowering women in trade through better collection and analysis of gender-disaggregated data, inclusive policies and targeted capacity building. Despite these initiatives, gender disparities remain at all levels of women’s participation in export trade – as owners, workers, and employees.

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