How constraints and opportunities shape women’s roles in trade

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Compared to men, women face many constraints that restrict their ability to trade and to realize the benefits of trade. Some of these barriers are directly related to the way that goods and services cross international borders, such as higher trading costs and discrimination that women can face at border crossings. But “beyond-the-border” constraints are equally important. For example, women’s limited access to education explains, in part, why female employment is concentrated in low-skill sectors such as textiles. Female entrepreneurs also have more difficulty than men in obtaining finance, especially for riskier activities like trade. Ingrained gender bias for domestic tasks such as child rearing limits women’s flexibility and mobility. These limitations can severely reduce women’s access to trade-related employment and services.

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