Gender in Global Trade: Transforming or Reproducing Trade Orthodoxy?

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In contrast to fields such as development, peace and security, and corporate governance, questions of gender equality have only recently begun entering into trade policymaking. In recent years, there has been a proliferation of initiatives aimed at leveraging trade for gender equality and addressing the adverse impacts of trade on women and other vulnerable populations. In this paper, we assess the new gender and trade agenda against the literature on how trade orthodoxy shapes the politics of global trade and thereby perpetuates existing inequalities. We develop an analytical framework to examine whether gender and trade initiatives reproduce or disrupt the trade orthodoxy. Its four key markers are: market rationality, technocracy, legalization, and abstraction. We find that while most gender and trade initiatives that we study reproduce and further entrench the trade orthodoxy, there are openings that could lead towards a more transformative trade politics. Future research should examine the policy processes that produced these openings and investigate if and how they could be transferred into policy instruments that lead to real changes to how the world trades.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1368-1393
JournalReview of International Political Economy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2021


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