Valuing Women in Global Value Chains

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and Permanent Mission of Finland to the United Nations held a side event on March 17th  during the 60th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. The side event focused on the role women play in global value chains, “the full range of activities that are required to bring a product from its conception, through its design, it’s sourced raw materials and intermediate inputs, its marketing, its distribution and its support to the final consumer.”

Ms. Simonetta Zarrilli moderated and opened the side event by expressing that global value chains offer women opportunities, yet present constraints. H.E. Anne Lammila listed priorities, such as stable democracies and the supporting of businesses in developing countries, when considering policy regarding the empowerment of women and global value chains. H.E. Lammila also expressed that although it is important to tackle issues concerning working conditions, international trade has increased employment for women, empowers women with better wages than traditional domestic work, and provides independence.

Following, Mr. Joakim Reiter shared UNCTAD’s gender sensitive lens. He reiterated that there are both pros and cons for women in global value chains, highlighting issues like the consolidation of farms, increased use of pesticides in commercial farming, and the lack of labor rights for women. Mr. Reiter detailed that in order to address these issues in global value chains, the “pandora’s box” of women’s issues must be opened. Next, Ms. Sheba Tejani shared her views about the impact of industrial upgrading, and its impact on gender inequality. She spoke of economic and social upgrading that must be done in global value chains. She used Kenya’s flower industry as an example of this.

Meeting: Trade and global value chains: how to address the gender dimension?

Date/Location: Thursday, March 17th, 2016; 11:30-12:45; Conference Room A, UN Headquarters, New York, New York

Speakers:  Simonetta Zarrilli, Chief, Trade, Gender and Development Section, and Gender Focal Point;  H.E. Anne Lammila, Ambassador-at-Large, Global Women’s Issues and Gender Equality of Finland; Joakim Reiter, Deputy Secretary-General, UNCTAD; Sheba Tejani, Assistant Professor, Political Economy, New School

Written By: WIT Representative Yume Murphy

Edited By: WIT Representative Alex Margolick

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