At the December 2017 World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires, 118 WTO members joined forces to launch the Declaration on Trade and Women’s Economic Empowerment. The members undertook to work together to develop best practices on how to apply gender-based analysis to domestic economic policy and international trade policy to encourage female entrepreneurship and financial inclusion, remove barriers to women’s participation in trade, and develop useful gender statistics and research. The Centre for International Governance Innovation undertook this essay series to raise awareness about this initiative and contribute to increasing understanding of how the declaration might contribute to economic empowerment of women.

About the Authors

Oonagh E. Fitzgerald was director of international law at CIGI from April 2014 to February 2020. In this role, she established and oversaw CIGI’s international law research agenda, which included policy-relevant research on issues of international economic law, environmental law, IP law and innovation, and Indigenous law.

Nursel Aydiner-Avsar is an economist in the Trade, Gender and Development Programme of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in Geneva, Switzerland. She worked for a project on trade and gender in the East African Community and is the lead author of a report titled East African Community Regional Integration: Trade and Gender Implications.

Otylia Babiak joined the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in January 2013 and works as legal counsel, institutional matters. Prior to joining the ICSID, she worked as a deputy counsel with the Secretariat to the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and as a deputy manager with the ICC’s International Centre for ADR in Paris, France, from 2010 to 2012.

Susan Baka is a communications specialist from Toronto, Canada; an authority on international trade, women’s entrepreneurship and diversity; and a prolific writer and speaker. She works with financial institutions, governments and organizations to help companies go global. Susan is also the regional representative (Ontario) for the Trade Facilitation Office Canada, which helps exporters from developing countries find linkages and buyers in the Canadian market.

Anastassia Beliakova is head of trade policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, devising and advocating policy positions on the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union and international trade relations, as well as export support for businesses. 

François-Philippe Champagne was elected the member of Parliament for Saint-Maurice-Champlain on October 19, 2015. A few weeks later, he was appointed parliamentary secretary to the minister of finance of Canada, a position he held until January 10, 2017, when he was appointed minister of international trade by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Luz María de la Mora is the director of WEConnect International in Mexico, an organization that links Mexican businesswomen with corporations that undertake global supplier diversity programs. She is the founder of the firm LMM Consulting, a Mexico-based company devoted to helping companies increase trade and devise business development strategies. She is also the founder of the Mexico chapter of Vital Voices Global Partnership.

Diane Elson is an emeritus professor at the University of Essex and a visiting professor at the Centre for Research on Women in the Scottish Economy, Glasgow Caledonian University. In 2016, she was awarded the Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought. She is a member of the Group of Seven (G7) Gender Equality Advisory Council and an adviser to UN Women. She has published widely on gender equality and economic policy, including on the feminist economics of trade. 

Marzia Fontana is a development economist with special research interests in gender inequalities, international trade, labour markets and unpaid work. She currently works as an independent researcher based in Brighton, United Kingdom. 

Patricia Goff is a CIGI senior fellow. She is also a professor of political science at Wilfrid Laurier University and the Balsillie School of International Affairs.

Arancha González is the executive director of the International Trade Centre. An expert in international trade and development, she has previously held leading positions at the World Trade Organization and the European Commission. In 2015, she launched the “SheTrades” initiative, seeking to connect one million women entrepreneurs to markets by 2020.

Stephanie is a trade policy consultant, associate director of the New Zealand International Business Forum and a policy adviser to the New Zealand members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Advisory Council. She is also co-founder of a business offering executive education in trade policy.

Meg Kinnear is secretary-general of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, joining in June 2009. She previously served as senior general counsel (2006–2009) and director-general of the Trade Law Bureau of Canada (1999–2006).

Susana Malcorra was Argentina’s minister of foreign affairs and worship until July 2017. After her resignation as foreign minister, she became minister advisor to the president until December 2017, presiding over the eleventh WTO Ministerial Conference held in Buenos Aires.

Mona Pinchis-Paulsen is a senior fellow at the California International Law Center at the UC Davis School of Law. She is a Canadian lawyer (qualified in 2007) and holds a Ph.D. in international economic law from the Dickson Poon School of Law at King’s College London and an LL.M. in international law from the George Washington University Law School.

Chiara Piovani is a consultant at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in the Trade, Gender and Development Programme, Division on International Trade in Goods and Services, and Commodities.

Balakrishnan Rajagopal is professor of law and development and head of the International Development Group in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He is also the founding director of the Program on Human Rights and Justice and the founder of the Displacement Research and Action Network at MIT.

Julia Seiermann is an economist in the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Trade Analysis Branch, where she works on international trade, trade policy and their links to different aspects of sustainable development. Most recently, she conducted research on the text-as-data analysis of trade agreements and on least-developed countries’ exports and developed a diagnostic framework for trade policy and employment that includes a gender dimension.

Debra Steger is professor emerita at the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law and a senior fellow at CIGI and the C. D. Howe Institute. She was the first director of the Appellate Body Secretariat of the World Trade Organization.

Cherise Valles is deputy director at the Advisory Centre on World Trade Organization Law (ACWL). The ACWL is an international organization, independent from the World Trade Organization (WTO), with a mandate to ensure that developing and least-developed countries are able to protect their interests in the WTO legal system. Valles has assisted the ACWL's developing country members at all stages of the dispute-settlement proceedings, before the WTO Appellate Body, panels and arbitrators.  

Simonetta Zarrilli is chief of the Trade, Gender and Development Programme of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the organization’s Gender Focal Point. Under her guidance, the program provides analytical and policy support to UNCTAD member countries on the gender implications of trade policy and trains academics, policy makers and civil society representatives on trade, gender and development issues.