SGPIA Professor Sheba Tejani spoke today at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) side event at the 60th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women. The event addressed the gender dimension of trade and global value chains. Professor Tejani’s participation in the event today follows her recent publicationin Feminist Economics, “Global Defeminization? Industrial Upgrading and Manufacturing Employment in Developing Countries.”
Below is an excerpt from Professor Tejani’s remarks at UNCTAD.
“What impacts do global value chains (GVCs) have on gender inequality in the labor market? New research shows that most developing countries experience a decline in the domestic value-added they contribute to exports when they increase their participation in GVCs. Although some are eventually able to reverse this trend, most do not. It is then important to debate whether greater integration into GVCs is the best policy strategy for developing countries and what impact this participation has on the gender distribution of employment. Although it might be assumed that greater participation of developing countries in (GVCs) increases employment opportunities for women, this is not always the case. When women have been employed in large numbers for export-oriented production, they have remained confined to low value added, labor intensive activities with low pay, given existing gender norms and stereotypes that tend to sort men and women into different types of “gender appropriate” work, and they often lose these jobs as firms “upgrade” their products and services. New opportunities in agricultural and service oriented GVCs though have provided women some new opportunities. Using case studies from cut flower global value chains in Kenya and Uganda, call centers in Egypt and cocoa chains in West Africa, the talk attempted to link economic and trade outcomes with social outcomes in terms of the impact of GVCs on employment, gender inequality, income, benefits and working conditions.”