Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



At long last, gender and trade are together on the international agenda, with significant implications for women entrepreneurs and traders around the world. Alongside the landmark 2017 Joint Declaration on Trade and Women’s Empowerment, regional trade agreements (RTAs) have taken the lead on more tangible gender commitments. One such RTA is the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), in which gender appears as an express priority alongside sustainable and inclusive socio-economic development. Yet, this is only a starting point. A gender-focused protocol has been proposed under the AfCFTA framework, representing a significant opportunity to reassess RTA provisions on gender and consider more tailored approaches that could benefit women on the African continent and around the world.

This chapter will present a comparative assessment of approaches for evaluating and categorizing gender and trade approaches in RTAs. These include focus on gender responsiveness and incorporation of international and domestic legal design innovations and options for “inclusive law and regulation” (with particular examples from African regional and domestic law) in order to use RTAs to address concrete challenges facing women. In particular, the chapter focuses on how RTA rules could more actively support women’s work, reduce procedural hurdles facing women in the market, enhance access to finance and digital inclusion, and promote food security. The chapter shines light on how gender provisions could be shaped, reframed, and better implemented in practice, with implications for the AfCFTA and future RTAs beyond Africa as well.

Publication Citation

WTO Compilation (Amrita Bahri, Jan Yves Remy & Dorotea Lopez eds., Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2023)