Development days: EU trade agreements must include gender chapters

Eleonora Forenza explains why EU trade agreements must include gender chapters.

Eleonora Forenza Photo credit: European Parliament audiovisual

By Eleonora Forenza

06 Jun 2018

Many studies have shown that trade policy has a different impact on women and men, but only 20 per cent of all EU trade agreements include a reference to women’s rights, and only 60 per cent mention ‘women’ or gender issues.

This means women’s rights are being rolled back, leading to greater gender inequality, social exclusion and precarious working conditions.

This is why Parliament’s report on gender equality in EU trade agreements calls on the Council and Commission to include a specific gender chapter in all future EU trade and investment agreements and to ratify and implement international conventions that recognise and promote gender equality.


This aim can be achieved by adopting measures combating the exploitation of women and improving their working conditions and by exempting public services and health provisions from trade negotiations.

Women’s rights are fundamental human rights and cannot be considered as a non-tariff barrier - as is the case with investors’ rights, which have more protection than human and women’s rights, social justice, labour rights and environmental standards.

Therefore, including binding and effective clauses on women’s rights and gender equality is another step towards a radical change of direction in EU trade policy from a feminist point of view.