Financial Services: The Trade and Gender Nexus

Date period
25 October 2018

This paper looks at the interplay between trade and financial services from a gender perspective. The core argument is that discrimination based on gender or marital status is yet to be prohibited in areas relevant to women’s use of financial services in many countries, despite almost four decades having passed since the signature of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. In line with this observation, firm-level data show that women-owned and -run firms differ significantly from other firms in terms of their ability to access financial services, and the conditions upon which such services are supplied. However, women-owned and -run firms with international linkages through exporting, importing, and foreign investment appear to have a much greater ability to access financial services than other women-owned and -run firms. Although the direction of causation needs to be established by careful empirical work, the data suggest significant links between trade, finance, and gender. From a policy perspective, moving forward in this area requires a consideration of the ways in which exchanges of market access concessions in trade agreements is inherently gendered.