Gender Mainstreaming and Regional Trade Governance in Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)

  • Jacqui True


Through various forms of direct and indirect action, civil society actors have challenged the elitist, technocratic decision-making power of regional and global governance organizations. They hold these organizations responsible for the global inequities — including the gender inequities — that are attributed to the increasing liberalization of global trade. Meanwhile, mainstream analysts assume that trade liberalization is a gender-neutral process. They consider the absolute gains from trade to be a rising tide that will lift all boats and are relatively silent about the inequalities that may result from greater dependence on global markets. Feminist scholars, activists and policy makers have questioned this neo-liberal view highlighting the mutual linkages between trade policy and gender, and the often adverse impacts of economic liberalization and crises on women (Molyneux and Razavi, this book; Van Staveren 2007; Willams 2003).2 Responding to their critics, regional trade organizations have seen gender mainstreaming as a governance strategy for increasing domestic and regional trade capacity. Gender mainstreaming in this context aims to enhance women’s economic participation, thus expanding trade, and to broaden the support for trade liberalization by ensuring that the opportunities and benefits from trade are distributed without gender bias.


European Union World Trade Organ Trade Liberalization North American Free Trade Agreement Woman Entrepreneur 
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  1. 2.
    For guides to how to conduct gender analysis in trade policymaking, see Mariama Williams, Gender Mainstreaming in the Multilateral Trading System. London: Commonwealth Secretariat, 2003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Maree Keating ed. Gender, Development and Trade, Oxford: Oxfam, 2004.Google Scholar
  3. UN Inter-Agency Network on Women and Gender Equality Task Force on Gender and Trade, Trade and Gender: Opportunities, Challenges and the Policy Dimension. New York and Geneva: UNCTAD Secretariat and United Nations, 2004.Google Scholar
  4. United Nations, China’s Accession to the WTO: Challenges for Women, New York: United Nations Development Programme, 2003.Google Scholar

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© Jacqui True 2008

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  • Jacqui True

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