Nov 3, 2011


Trade Liberalization Can Help Empower Women

  • Nov 3, 2011
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  • Gender equality is a source of comparative advantage when a country integrates into the world market, according to a new working paper by Quy-Toan Do, Andrei A. Levchenko and Claudio Raddatz. For example, industries relying more on female labor expand more in countries that empower women. Meanwhile, trade affects a society’s attitude toward gender: the gender gap is smaller in Bangladesh and other countries that export goods requiring female labor. Thus, the road to female empowerment in an increasingly integrated world market depends on a country’s productive structure, as well as its exposure to global markets. Compared with countries with a comparative advantage in female labor-intensive goods, countries with a comparative advantage in male-labor intensive goods require more effort to counterbalance the resultant economic forces, leading to a slower pace of women’s empowerment. Nonetheless, these same efforts will in turn change the comparative advantage of countries in a way that will further promote conditions that help empower women.

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