Global trade and regional integration have gender-specific outcomes: in developing countries and specifically in South Asia, women do not have the same access as men to benefits of trade. This report reviews the gender outcomes of trade and describes policies and initiatives tackling the three main gender-based barriers to benefiting from trade: (i) sociocultural norms, (ii) legal barriers, and (iii) social and human capital disadvantages. There is significant evidence that trade has a positive impact on women’s employment, but the impacts of trade on wage equality and women’s wellbeing are not as clearly positive; men and women do not have the same access to the benefits of trade. Gender-based barriers to realising benefits from trade in South Asia include very strong gender stereotypes, exacerbated by the existence of the caste system, and tight constraints on labour mobility (inter-sectoral and hierarchical). The evidence of female participation in regional value chains shows that women are much less integrated than men in trade processes and their benefits are severely limited.
Suleymenova, K., & Syssoyeva-Masson, I. (2017). Improving gender outcomes for regional trade programmes. K4D Helpdesk Report. Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies.