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Policy | Brussels, 30 September 2019

Commissioner Malmström hosts conference on Empowering Women through Trade

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström is today hosting the Trade for Her conference to find out how to achieve greater involvement of women in international trade, in the EU and beyond.

Commissioner Malmström commented: “Why don’t women benefit from international trade as much as men, and what can we do about it? These are the questions we will tackle at the second Trade for Her conference today in Brussels. We have gathered experts from all over the world, from the public and private sector, to help us better understand the issue as well as proposing innovative solutions. I am pleased that gender equality is clearly a priority for the President-elect Ursula von der Leyen. It is vital that we capitalise on this to make sure every arm of EU policymaking is making a positive difference for women and girls everywhere.”

Speakers in the conference include Arancha González, Executive Director, International Trade Centre; Roberto Azevêdo, Director General, World Trade Organization; Guy Ryder, Director General, International Labour Organisation; Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa; Christian Ewert, President, amfori; Denise Stubbs, Director, Thokozani Wines, South Africa.

The conference is looking into the results of the first ever study on barriers for women in the European Union, who are engaged in international trade. The study by the International Trade Centre and financed by the European Commision is titled 'From Europe to the World: Understanding Challenges for European Businesswomen'.

It has found, amongst other things, that only one in five exporting companies in the EU is owned, led or managed by a woman. Only one in five companies reaches gender parity in employment. It also suggests that job segregation remains a reality: fewer than one in three companies reaching at least 30% of women in senior executive positions.

DG Trade has also recently published a Chief Economist Note on Female Participation in EU Exporting, which found that the number of women in exports-supported jobs increased by 5.5 million since 2008, but only 38% of the jobs linked to exports to the world are taken up by women.

The conference is being streamed online.

More information

Chief Economist report (European Commission, September 2019)

Europe’s women largely under-represented in international trade, study finds (ITC press release; 30 September 2019)