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Report: First activity organized under the Global Trade and Gender Arrangement

Overview: On Thursday, December 10, Canada hosted the first activity under the Global Trade and Gender Arrangement (GTAGA).  Following opening remarks by Kendal Hembroff, Director General for Trade Negotiations at Global Affairs Canada, which highlighted the work of the Inclusive Trade Action Group and the importance of ensuring greater participation of women in international trade, Canada, Chile and New Zealand provided presentations on their current domestic programming and policies that support women’s economic empowerment and gender equality. Canada’s presentation was delivered by an economist at Finance Canada and focused on Canada’s approach to gender based budgeting and how it has evolved to where it is today. Chile’s presentation was delivered by the CEO of Start-Up Chile and focused on the Female Founder Factor, an initiative that supports women entrepreneurs.  New Zealand’s presentation was delivered by the Ministry for Women and focused on practical initiatives that enable policy makers and the private sector to include a gender perspective in their decision-making. Given the goal of expanding GTAGA participants, officials from eight other countries were invited to observe the activity.  In total, over 60 participants from Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Fiji, Israel, Mexico, New Zealand, Panama, Peru and Tunisia joined this activity.


1. Canada’s presentation:

Lauren Keating, Economist at Finance Canada, presented on the key components of Canada’s approach to gender budgeting and its evolution over time.  She explained that gender budgeting is a fundamental element of Canada’s strategy to respond to inequality in Canada. It has been applied in Canada since the 1990s and involves incorporating a gender perspective at every level of the budgeting process to ensure that the allocation of resources do not undermine equality. In the last few years, Canada has seen significant progress in strengthening its process, not only by going beyond just gender and including additional intersecting identity factors, but also by:

The Canadian Gender Budgeting Act makes gender budgeting a permanent part of the federal budget making process, and requires the Minister of Finance to report on gender and diversity considerations for new budget measures and tax expenditures. The Gender Results Framework is comprised of six pillars, each with a specific goal, objectives, and indicators to measure progress over time. During the budget process, the framework is used to identify gaps and assist in decision-making. Finally, GBA+ is used to assess how different groups will experience policies, programs and initiatives. Lauren concluded her presentation by explaining some challenges to gender budgeting and how to overcome them. These included ensuring a consistent approach, incorporating GBA+ into decision-making, and accessing gender disaggregated data.

2. Chile’s presentation:

Chile’s presentation was led by María de los Angeles Romo, CEO of Start-Up Chile. Start-Up Chile is a public accelerator created by the Chilean Government for high-potential entrepreneurs to launch their start-ups using Chile as a base of operations. María presented the Female Founder Factor, an initiative launched by Start-Up Chile that supports women entrepreneurs regardless of the stage of development of their businesses. This initiative aims to close existing gender gaps and address challenges women face. This is important because although women-led businesses have a higher survival rate than those led by men (60.7% vs 49.4%), they have a lower performance when it comes to sales and raising capital. Therefore, the initiative seeks to bridge the gaps in high-impact entrepreneurship, creating more equal and participatory opportunities.

Start-Up Chile has three program levels targeting 50% of women-led business from all around the world: Build, Ignite and Growth.  The Build level is a pre-acceleration program directed to early-stage start-ups with a technological base, with less than one year of development. The Ignite (4 months acceleration programme) and Growth (directed to start-ups looking to scale their sales and expand to new markets) programs provide women-led start-ups with 10% more co-financing. In terms of strategic assistance, they receive the support of at least one mentor, and they participate in Start-Up Chile's Academy, which seeks a gender balanced participation rate.  

This initiative is part of the gender strategy of CORFO, an agency of the Chilean Ministry of Economy, Development and Tourism, which is responsible for supporting entrepreneurship, innovation and competitiveness along with strengthening human capital and technological capabilities.

3. New Zealand’s presentation:

New Zealand’s presentation was led by Rebecca Barnes, Director of Policy at the Ministry for Women.  Rebecca presented on practical initiatives that enable policy makers and the private sector to include a gender perspective in their policy making and decision-making, as well as to create awareness of the gender pay gap and provide tools to address it. She provided an overview of the Ministry for Women’s ‘bringing gender in’ and ‘what’s my gender pay gap’ tools. The What’s my Gender Pay Gap? tool provides users with statistical information on gender pay gaps across New Zealand. The purpose of the tool is to be a catalyst for action by highlighting different dimensions of New Zealand’s overall gender pay gap while the Bringing gender in tool aims to ensure that policies contribute to better outcomes for New Zealand’s women and girls.

Conclusion: The presentations confirmed the value of information sharing, by demonstrating how we can all benefit from exchanging information, lessons learned, best practices, and identifying gaps. It is by sharing and learning from each other’s experiences that we can help and inspire each other to develop innovative and inclusive policies, which in turn, can contribute to a sustainable recovery and sustainable trade. While these presentations were a testament to GTAGA’s shared commitment to gender equality and advancing women’s economic empowerment, they also showed that there is more to do. This activity was just the first step towards creating tangible opportunities to enhance collaboration on our shared commitment.

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