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Brexit, International Trade and Technology - The Empowerment of Women

Today’s progress was yesterday’s plan

Every year on 8th March women around the world celebrate International Women’s Day. Women that we do not know, those who we do not see, who have no voice but we can feel are remembered.

It is a reminder for all women around the world of how far we have come and how far we have yet to achieve in the women’s right movement.

In every country around the world women (and some men) get together to share and reflect on how we can support one another and provide guidance and value to one another to keep going forward.


This year I was fortunate to be celebrating International Women’s day in Geneva, Switzerland attending various UN and NGO events held around the city. The discussions, debates and events on gender parity were a reminder that the work that the UN and the various NGO’s do is valuable to bring to light the issues and concerns around the world with Member States to make a change.

(With Isabelle Durant, Deputy Secretary General UNCTAD)

At the International Trade Centre (“ITC”) press for progress, SheTrades Globally event, we were reminded that women can be empowered by having the right conditions and opportunities to thrive.

SheTrades is an initiative launched by the International Trade Centre (“ITC”) to support women’s economic empowerment internationally. The goal is to connect one million women entrepreneurs to market by 2020.

Below the video that was premiered at the SheTrade, event. It is the story of two female led enterprises one in Alaska exporting fish, the other in Ghana exporting flowers and how they are trading with the help of the network.

If you are a female entrepreneur seeking to expand your business internationally, you can join the SheTrade platform by following the link here.

Ecommerce, Blockchain, women and international trade

The women’s right movement started over a century ago, it spread throughout the world before the invention of modern day technology or the Internet. At that time the telephone was a new invention, it was not in every home, only the privileged few had access to a telephone, yet women around the world found a way to connect and support one another.

In today’s economic and political environment online social media, such as Facebook has provided the opportunity for so many women to be connected. Technology has improved access to finance, payment channels, mobile technology and education.

The future is digital, it provides access to education in remote places and breakdown trade barriers.

An example of this is how Blockchain is being used to reduce logistics costs. Traditionally, to export perishable goods from one country to another in addition to meeting the standard requirements, there is a plethora of export and certification documents. For example, recent research revealed that a trader from Africa to the EU would need to overcome at least 200 documents at various stages of the exporting process. For an SME this is an arduous task. With the innovation of technologies like Blockchain, technology is simplifying the process, reducing time and cost. Therefore, bringing greater efficiency and enabling SME’s to break down traditional trade barriers.

Ecommerce also provides women solutions to overcome time and mobility constraints, offer new business opportunities that can help to increase their participation in domestic and international trade.

Companies like Amazon, Facebook, Alibaba are examples of how private industry are progressing women’s economic empowerment, for example Alibaba has 60% of its employees as women and its suppliers and customer base also reflects the gender balance.

Despite the promising signs, according to a study conducted by The World Economic Forum on the Global Gender Gap Report 2017 women still lag behind in economic participation and opportunity by 15 to 25 percent in even the most gender-equal societies. Globally, only half of working age women are employed, earn about three quarters as much as men do and even when they have the same level of education and in the same occupation.

The effects of Brexit on international trade and women