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Women in International Trade as Catalysts for EU-India Relations

Updated: Mar 27

EU India Women in International Trade EICBI Women

Economic development is mostly fueled by international trade and commerce, since exporting businesses generate more revenue, pay more wages, and expand more quickly than non-exporting businesses. As a result, it has gradually contributed significantly to the advancement of gender equality on a worldwide scale. Trade may serve as a greater catalyst for countries to increase women's involvement in their expanding economies, the more connected a nation is on the global stage.

 

Women's roles in international trade have received a lot of attention lately, which is indicative of the rising understanding of their capacity to spur economic growth and advance sustainable development. Trade has become a vital component of diplomatic ties between countries in an increasingly integrated global economy. Leveraging the potential of women in international trade offers a special chance to improve bilateral relations while advancing gender equality and sustainable development, as the European Union (EU) and India want to expand their economic links.


EU India Women in International Trade EICBI Women

India and the EU have a long-standing economic partnership that is marked by investment and trade flows, joint research and innovation, and strategic discussions on a range of policy concerns. Nonetheless, there exists a significant unexplored capacity to enhance bilateral trade and investment relations. With a GDP of over €25 trillion and a combined population of over 1.8 billion, the EU and India are substantial marketplaces for each other's products, services, and innovations. Because of their involvement in global trade, women are essential to advancing equitable development and accelerating economic progress. However, obstacles, including restricted financial resources, a lack of trade-related skills, and a lack of market prospects frequently impede women professionals and entrepreneurs, making it difficult for them to fully realise the promise of international trade.


Women-owned companies make major contributions to innovation, job creation, and export revenue in both the EU and India. According to the Sixth Economic Census released by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, women constitute around 14% of the total entrepreneurship i.e. 8.05 million out of the total 58.5 million entrepreneurs. According to the Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs, India ranked at number 57 out of 65 nations. In 2022, the EU employment rate for men stood at 80.0 %, while it was at 69.3 % for women, resulting in a gender employment gap of 10.7 percentage points. Giving women the tools they need to become fully engaged in international trade is crucial for fostering stronger economic connections between the EU and India. Targeted programmes that give women access to capital, trade-related training and capacity-building opportunities, networking opportunities, and mentorship assistance can help achieve this. Both the EU and India can access new sources of innovation, competitiveness, and sustainable growth by making investments in women's economic empowerment.


There are important ramifications for women in both areas from the ongoing EU-India Free Trade Agreement discussions. As the discussions move forward, it will be crucial to evaluate how the proposed trade terms would affect women differently and to find ways to increase women's economic involvement. The prospect for expanded market access for women-owned businesses—particularly in industries like technology, healthcare, and agriculture—is a significant feature of the free trade agreement. In addition to that, the FTA's inclusion of gender-specific measures can help remove obstacles that women encounter in trade, such those related to funding, market intelligence, and chances for capacity-building. The EU and India can foster an environment that is conducive to the success of female entrepreneurs and promotes sustainable economic growth by integrating gender-responsive measures into trade policy.


Promoting gender-inclusive trade policies and initiatives is necessary to create tighter economic links between the EU and India, in addition to empowering women entrepreneurs and professionals. This means tackling gender-based trade barriers including discriminatory laws and customs procedures, as well as mainstreaming gender issues into trade agreements and guaranteeing women's involvement in trade discussions and decision-making processes. To advance gender-responsive trade between the EU and India, cooperation between governments, corporate sector players, civil society organisations, and international institutions is essential. Through collaborative efforts, stakeholders may exchange optimal methodologies, optimise assets, and execute coordinated campaigns to advance women's economic empowerment and expedite their assimilation into worldwide value networks.

Women have the ability to significantly influence global trade, but achieving this potential will need coordinated efforts to remove obstacles in their way and foster an atmosphere that encourages their involvement. Countries can create more equitable and resilient economies, stimulate innovation, and open up new avenues for economic growth by enabling women to participate fully in international trade.

 

Using women's potential in international trade offers an opportunity to promote stronger bilateral connections while furthering gender equality and sustainable development goals, as the EU and India want to strengthen their economic cooperation. In order to create new avenues for economic development, innovation, and shared prosperity, the EU and India should support gender-inclusive trade policies, empower women professionals and entrepreneurs, and establish partnerships for gender-responsive trade. Investing in women's economic empowerment in international trade is not just a question of social justice but also a strategic requirement for fortifying diplomatic connections and constructing a more inclusive and robust global economy as we navigate the possibilities and challenges of the twenty-first century.


(Srishti is a research fellow at the Europe India Centre for Business and Industry.)


References:

 

  1. World Bank Group. (2021, January 14). Women and trade: The role of trade in promoting women’s equality. World Bank. https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/trade/publication/women-and-trade-the-role-of-trade-in-promoting-womens-equality

  2. Women and trade report.indb. (n.d.). https://www.wto.org/english/res_e/booksp_e/women_trade_pub2807_e.pdf

  3. India-EU strategic partnership: A roadmap to 2025. (n.d.-a). https://www.mea.gov.in/bilateral-documents.htm?dtl/32828/IndiaEU_Strategic_Partnership_A_Roadmap_to_2025

  4. EU trade relations with India. Trade. (n.d.). https://policy.trade.ec.europa.eu/eu-trade-relationships-country-and-region/countries-and-regions/india_en

  5. Jones, S. (2023, May 16). Why the gender gap in global trade should close faster. EY. https://www.ey.com/en_gl/global-trade/why-the-gender-gap-in-international-trade-needs-to-close-faster

  6. Mainstreaming gender in trade policy. (n.d.-b). https://www.iisd.org/system/files/2021-11/mainstreaming-gender-in-trade-policy.pdf

  7. Investing in women is more than just good economics, it’s crucial to a sustainable society. ESCAP. (n.d.). https://www.unescap.org/blog/investing-women-more-just-good-economics-its-crucial-sustainable-society

  8. India-EU cooperation in the SDG era. (n.d.-a). https://www.orfonline.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/ORF_Monograph_India-EUDevelopmentPartnership.pdf

  9. Empowering women and tackling income inequality. (n.d.-a). https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/sdn/2015/sdn1520.pdf

  10. Standard, B. (2024, February 22). India-EU FTA must be fair, equitable and balanced: Goyal at CII Event. Business Standard. https://www.business-standard.com/economy/news/india-eu-fta-must-be-fair-equitable-and-balanced-goyal-at-cii-event-124022200031_1.html

  11. Standard, B. (2018, July 16). Women constitute around 14% of total entrepreneurship in the country. Business Standard. https://www.business-standard.com/article/news-cm/women-constitute-around-14-of-total-entrepreneurship-in-country-118071600642_1.html

  12. Statistics explained. Statistics Explained. (n.d.). https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php?title=Employment_-_annual_statistics#:~:text=In%202022%2C%20the%20EU%20employment,gap%20of%2010.7%20percentage%20points.&text=Among%20the%20EU%20Member%20States,Netherlands%20to%2064.8%20%25%20in%20Italy

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