The Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa (CSEA), has expressed concerns over the difficulties faced by African women particularly Nigerian women in participating in international trade.
This was the major discussion during a Multi-Stakeholder Forum of Women in Trade (WIT) organised in Abuja by CSEA in collaboration with the Trade Facilitation Office (TFO) Canada with funding from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), where it unveiled findings from the research project conducted on women-led organizations from Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal and Madagascar in International trade.
Executive Director of CSEA Dr. Chukwuka Onyekwena, noted the positive economic and social outcomes of trade across countries over the years, regretting that women are not benefiting from international trade opportunities due to gender based barriers.
”Trade we know spurs innovation and competition which increases economic growth and can reduce poverty but despite these beneficial attributes of trade there are some distributional issues associated with it that negatively affects vulnerable groups.
”There are barriers that prevent some vulnerable groups from the gains of international trade. These barriers include living in extreme poverty, being in situations of conflict and fragility, living in rural areas, barriers related to gender,” he said.
”In terms of job creation and empowerment, there are specific constraints they face that limit their abilities from benefiting from trade opportunities.
”The International Trade footprint of women is quite low and it is more difficult for women owned SMEs to engage in international trade,” he added. .
According to him, available evidence shows that women in production activities are less able to access input and materials that can raise their productivity and allow them to compete in international markets.
The Executive Director explained that the efforts to finding lasting solutions to these difficulties faced by women in participating in international trade that the forum seeks to address.
”Why, under what circumstances do some trade sectors create more jobs for women and others do not? To what extent are the jobs created contribute to women’s economic empowerment. Last, lastly, what strategies and policies are needed to ensure that these sectors work optimally? So our study has employed both quantitative and qualitative methods to examine the aforementioned issues in different countries particularly Nigeria and Ghana,” he said.
Presenting the Nigeria and Ghana SME’s survey findings, Dr. Yiagadeesen (Teddy) Samy of the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs Carleton University, who joined the conversation from Canada online said going by Gender-Related Data the average favorability of the sector to women-owned SMEs is 3.4 on a 1-5 scale.
He stressed the need for policy-makers to understand that context matters and that not all
SME sectors across countries face the same set of challenges, adding that Women tend to be hired for other reasons (skills, productivity, nature of work etc.) than bridging gender gaps.
”Nigeria’s score is 2.8 while Ghana is slightly above the average at 3.5. The distribution of total employees in SMEs is more favorable to women in Cambodia, Senegal and Vietnam; however, it is more favorable to men in Ghana, Madagascar and Nigeria. In Nigeria, ownership slightly more favorable towards women while management is more favorable towards men.
”No evidence of government/regulatory incentives to hire women rather than men for both Ghana and Nigeria” he explained.