Women’s rights groups slam WTO’s ‘pink herring’ Declaration on Women’s Economic Empowerment

13 December 2017: Over 160 women’s rights groups and allied organisations have urged WTO member governments not to agree to the proposed “Joint Declaration on Trade and Women’s Economic Empowerment”, which they describe as a ‘pink herring’ intended to ‘mask the failures of the WTO and its role in deepening inequality and exploitation’.

The letter notes that the neoliberal project involving austerity, privatisation, deregulation of finance, markets and corporations, and trade and investment liberalisation has had a devastating and discriminatory impact on women’. It says that the WTO’s commitment to trade liberalisation and deregulation continues to exacerbate gendered inequality by extending corporate power and control over women’s lives and livelihoods. New WTO proposals on e-commerce and services provisions will hand more rights to corporations, not women.

The women’s rights groups make several suggestions for genuine action on women’s inequality instead, including agreeing to public stockholding of food for developing countries, ensuring intellectual property rules do  not prevent access to medicines, and ensuring that trade agreements do not prevent domestic regulations on human rights or public interest laws.