HBF-TWN Trade & Gender Briefs
Trade and policies governing trade play decisive roles in designing or redesigning the property relationships in an economy and are major factors in defining the rules of access to resources such as land, education and capital. As gender related development is closely linked to these factors, the gender dimensions of trade policies have come under the critical scrutiny of researchers as well as women's groups. This is especially so because the current global trade framework does not affect all equally. Gains and losses are determined by an individual's relative position within the economy, society and politics. Several recent studies have found evidence that present trade policies and practices are gender insensitive, and coupled with systemic gender inequality, these policies have often deprived women of developmental opportunities as well as benefits. This is also because women in India are largely unskilled, have limited access to productive resources, and are willing to be in the informal economy and earn zero or low wages . However, they still do not have much control over productive resources such as land, credit, water and their decision making powers are also limited.
Over the past two decades, India has followed a policy of trade liberalisation which has picked up pace in recent times. In order to comply with the new global trade rules, India has to follow not only those of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) but the rules set by an increasing number of bilateral (or sometimes plurilateral) free trade and investment agreements (FTAs) that India is signing. Since the FTAs generally include more than WTO provisions (WTO plus) , the current trade policy has great significance for gender equality. Along with liberalisation of commodity trade and corresponding impact on tariffs and non tariff barriers, increasingly stricter intellectual property rights (IPRs) and more ambitious investment liberalisation are likely to affect gender dynamics within the country. These impacts cover many areas and stem from various provisions in trade policy. An understanding of these issiues is essential for various stakeholders and policymakers in order to ensure that trade impacts do not affect women adversely..
No. 5: Industrial Trade Liberalisation and Gender Implications: Developing Countries & India (English)