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London Chamber calls on Minister to take immediate action to include women in trade negotiations

Monday 6 November 2023

The latest London Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (LCCI) policy proposal calls for the implementation of new policies to ensure that the inclusion of women in the negotiations of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) will increase in the future. This will push forward women’s roles in trade agreements and will in turn help the economy grow.

LCCI’s Policy Proposal, which was sent to the Business and Trade Secretary of State Kemi Badenoch MP, shows how involving women in the decisions regarding the drafting of FTAs could lead to an economy boost, diversified and sustainable economies, more jobs, and lay the foundations for the advancement of gender equality in business and decision-making settings – all topics of prime importance in the
post-Brexit economy.

FTAs are important to promote economic growth and increase trade and the number of jobs. However, by excluding the perspectives and priorities of women at a decisional level, great opportunities to maximise economic prosperity are being missed.

Although women make up nearly half of the global workforce and progress in the past few years has been made, women are still underrepresented and discriminated against in the workplace – especially in international trade. LCCI found that there are four primary areas where women are at a disadvantage compared to their male counterparts: social and cultural norms, legal and regulatory frameworks, access to finance and markets, and skills and capacity building.

Some of the key areas LCCI’s policy proposal targets are regular consultations with women’s groups and organisations and data collection and analysis, gender impact assessments to ensure fairness and accountability, inclusion of women in decision-making and supporting women entrepreneurs creating an environment suitable for collaboration, partnership, and mutual respect.

LCCI urges the implementation of these policies to ensure that free trade agreements will cater to the unique role and perspective of women in trade and commerce.

Liz Henderson, Director of Membership and Events and Chair of the Women Business Group at the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said on the matter: 

“Including women in free trade agreements is paramount to ensure a competitive and growing economy for London and the UK. As Chair of the Women in Business Group at the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, I have carefully listened and participated in the passionate discussions between successful and brilliant women entrepreneurs on how we can create a safer, more supportive working environment. A key takeaway from these conversations is that women need to be involved when decisions are being made at high levels – including policymaking for FTAs.

By including women in trade talks the economy will see greater collaborations and new partnerships being formed. These will help create a more dynamic and open economy where gender equality, trade, and investments can flourish.

Since Brexit business deals with other countries have become more complicated and FTAs are a tool we can use to improve our international dealings. To have a dwindling number of women when finalising critical policies in this area is, quite frankly, inadmissible. The repercussions of these decisions could negatively impact businesses whose interests were not initially considered, and, more often than not, these businesses belong to women and marginalised groups.”

Key policies from the proposal: 

  1. Gender impact statements: should be carried out by governments and private entities involved in FTA negotiations to research the potential outcome of trade policies on women. This analysis should be made public for transparency.
  2. Consultation with women’s groups and organisatons: governments and private entities should ask for input from women and their unique perspective during FTA negotiations.
  3. Inclusion of gender provisions: when negotiating FTAs governments and private entities should address issues such as equal pay, non-discrimination, and gender-based violence.
  4. Capacity building and support for women entrepreneurs: governments and private entities involved in FTA negotiations should provide support to women for them to participate in international trade.
  5. Inclusion of women in trade-related decision-making: women should be included in
  6. trade-related decision-making at all levels throughout the entirety of the process.
  7. Gender-sensitive language in free trade agreements: FTAs should use gender-sensitive language to promote the participation of women in trade.
  8. Data collection and analysis: collection of data and its relative analysis are needed to properly address gender disparities in trade and commerce.
  9. Partnership and collaboration: international organisations, trade unions, education and research organisations with other NGOs need to work in partnership and collaborate to effectively address the challenges women face in trade and commerce.

Expected policy outcomes: 

  1. Improved gender equality
  2. Increased economic growth and development
  3. Increased trade and investment
  4. Stronger partnerships and collaboration
  5. Improved data and analysis
  6. Enhanced reputation

ENDS 

Notes to editors: 

  • Read the full policy proposal.
  • Read the press release on the Shadow Cabinet Office Minister, Nick Thomas-Symonds MP, endorsing the London Chamber’s policy proposal.

About the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry: 

London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) is London’s key hub for the business community, we support members’ businesses through a range of services, advocate on behalf of London’s business community in the most important forums of policy debate, and promote ‘Global London’ as the best city in the world to do business – whether that’s to trade, invest, learn, or find new commercial partners.

LCCI founded and leads a Women in Business Group which aims to grow the representation of women entrepreneurs in under-represented sectors and promote inclusivity. This group is chaired by Liz Henderson, Director of Membership and Events.

Media contacts:          

Vittoria Zerbini - Media Assistant 
E: vzerbini@londonchamber.co.uk
M: +44 (0) 7831 637843