Mid August: Imagining a feminist trade system

Past Webinars

21 July 2020: Mobilising for Feminist Trade Justice within the United Nations

The movement for feminist trade justice is long-standing and growing. Global South feminists have been ringing alarm bells for decades - providing meticulous analysis on the devastating impact of trade liberalization, privatization, and deregulation on poor and marginalized groups of women and demonstrating the inextricable link between the current global trade system, colonialism and imperialism. Whether in the streets, in the halls of government, or in international and multilateral spaces, feminist demands for a human rights-based, transparent and accountable trade system can no longer be ignored. In fact, as the Covid-19 pandemic lays bare, they are now more urgent than ever.

This session explores how the United Nations (UN) human rights system and other UN spaces can be used as a strategic tool by feminists and civil society to demand trade justice and support diverse advocacy actions - including in these times of mostly virtual gatherings. We view this as part of a larger conversation and movement of reclaiming the UN and multilateralism in the service of global solidarity, people, and planet. Speakers will discuss UNCTAD, special procedures, treaty bodies, and the coalition of Feminists for a Binding Treaty relating to the ongoing negotiations for a legally binding instrument to regulate transnational corporations. Input and expertise from participants is warmly welcome!


  • Chee Yoke Ling, Director of Third World Network (TWN)

  • Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

  • Constanza Pauchulo, Programme Officer, International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (IWRAW AP)

  • Kate Donald, Director of Human Rights in Economic and Social Policy Program at the Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR)

  • Alejandra Scampini, Senior Policy Associate, Project on Organizing, Development, Education and Research (PODER) and member of Feminists for a Binding Treaty (F4BT)

Moderator: Priti Darooka, Executive Director, Programme on Women’s Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (PWESCR) and Founding Member of BRICS Feminist Watch

Suggested Background Materials

23 June 2020: Post-Cotonou Agreement: Cross-Regional Perspectives and Resistance

The impending Post-Cotonou Agreement will define trade and development relations between Europe and 79 African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) countries for the next 20 years. During the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, the agreement will determine the capacity of ACP states to exercise their economic sovereignty and shape the path of their own recovery and development. Europe’s negotiating positions push a liberalization agenda through attempts to enhance protection for their investors in ACP markets and secure “undistorted access” to ACP natural resources, effectively reinforcing neo-colonial patterns that ACP governments are concerned to transform. While struggling to contend with the COVID-19 pandemic, state capacity is being drained by negotiations that have shifted online, becoming more secretive and exclusionary of civil society as a result. This cross-regional panel outlines what is at stake in the negotiations, share lessons for mobilization, and proposes alternative progressive and feminist approaches. This discussion was organized by Regions Refocus, co-chair of the Gender and Trade Coalition.

Speakers: David Abdulah (Movement for Social Justice), Mereoni Chung (Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era) Rosalea Hamilton (Caribbean Philanthropic Alliance), Tetteh Hormeku-Ajei (Third World Network-Africa), Maureen Penjueli (Pacific Network on Globalisation)

Moderator: Anita Nayar (Regions Refocus)

Related links:

5 June, 2020: Trading Away Women's Rights: How free trade has undermined women’s human rights both before and during the pandemic

Since the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BPfA), the reach and depth of trade liberalisation has intensified around the world, undermining the rights outlined in the BPfA, whilst cementing corporate power and exacerbating existing inequalities within and between countries. The on-going Coronavirus pandemic has further exacerbated the situation and reveal the precariousness of the global-value chain and the multilateral trade systems are as a whole. The pandemic further illustrates the importance of the call that the feminists movement has been demanding; a feminist trade justice agenda that will remedy inequalities, ensure gender-responsive public services and infrastructure, promote and protect women's human rights, both in this time of pandemic and the time to come after.

Speakers: Lebohang Liepollo Pheko (WIMN), Diyana Yahaya (APWLD), Nandini Chami (IT for Change), Nayareth Queved (PSI-Chile), Michelle R. Maziwisa (African Women’s Development and Communication Network, FEMNET)

Moderator: Mariama Williams (The South Centre)

17 December, 2019: Will the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) promote women's rights? Unpacking the new generation of mega trade deals

In collaboration with APWLD and Third World Network, the GTC hosted a webinar analysing the gendered impacts of the RCEP, which was been under closed negotiation since 2012 between the 10 Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) governments and their six Free Trade Agreement partners: Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea. By working to expanding liberalisation and deregulation, the RCEP will deeply impact the over 1.1 billion women falling under its jurisdiction, particularly women farmers and workers, and urban poor, rural, and Indigenous women who are already grappling with the devastating impacts of WTO rules.

Speakers: Arieska Kurniawati (Solidaritas Perempuan, Indonesia), Anita Gurumurthy (IT for Change), Kartini Samon (GRAIN), Diyana Yahaya (APWLD)

Moderator: Kate Lappin (Public Service International)

18 September, 2019: Does the digital economy promote women's rights? Unpacking the myths

In collaboration with WIDE+ and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, the GTC hosted a webinar unpacking the dominant discourse in trade and economic policy spaces: that digitalisation of the economy will automatically empower women from the global South by opening up new opportunities for entrepreneurship and flexible employment. In reality, e-commerce brings forth a new kind of corporation that thrives on controlling data and reorganises supply chains by creating or expanding precarious and cheap labour opportunities, for which women are particularly vulnerable. As currently configured, it is another avenue to promote neoliberal economic and trade models that prioritise narrowly defined economic growth and profit maximisation over people's wellbeing and human rights. The webinar also imagined feminist trade and economic policies to regulate the digitalisation of our economies in a way that empowers all women.

Speakers: Nandini Chami (Digital Justice Project), Scheaffer Okore (Ukweli Party, Kenya), Sofia Scasserra (World Labor Institute “Julio Godio,” Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero, UNTREF, Argentina, and FAECYS – Presidency UNI Global)

Moderator: Crystal Dicks (University of Witwatersrand)