Gender Equality & Dutch Trade Policy


Trade agreements can contribute to gender equality and women’s economic empowerment. But they can also reinforce inequalities and women’s subordinate position in national economies. Responding to this concern, KIT supported the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs to integrate gender equality into the Ministry’s 2018 policy on Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation.

A gendered economy

Economic and gender inequality are not separate phenomena. Trade agreements and economic policies impact men and women in different ways. And unequal gender and social relations can positively or negatively impact the efficacy of trade policy and economic growth. Acknowledging this complex relationship, the Ministry has prioritised the integration of gender equality across all policy domains. The move is guided by the Ministry’s commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals.

Integrating gender equality into the Ministry's trade policy

KIT (through the Gender Resource Facility) assisted the Ministry to operationalise its policy ambitions on gender and trade. In partnership with the Ministry’s Task Force Women’s Rights & Gender Equality, KIT organised a high-level “Gender and Trade” meeting. The meeting explored how to best enhance the positive impact of trade policy on gender, and how the Netherlands could focus its efforts for optimal impact. It was attended by staff from Ministry directorates working on different aspect of gender and trade.

Against this backdrop, our work sought to:

  • Contribute to the discourse on gender and trade, including the main issues, challenges, and opportunities for the Ministry to tap into and to identify critical gaps in research.
  • Enhance knowledge and understanding of trade policies and specific trade agreements and key gender issues therein.
  • Inform gender-responsive interventions for the design, implementation and monitoring & evaluation of trade policies and trade agreements to ensure they redress rather than exacerbate gender inequalities.

KIT published the key findings and lessons learned from the meeting in a final report for the Ministry.

“Taking into account gender perspectives in macro-economic policy, including trade policy, is essential to pursuing inclusive and sustainable development and to achieving fairer and beneficial outcomes for all”

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development