Visible and Invisible Barriers: CUTIS project convened a discussion about gender based barriers to trade

The Canada-Ukraine Trade & Investment Support (CUTIS) project presented the report ‘Visible and Invisible Barriers: a Gender Based Analysis (GBA) of the Export Challenges of Ukrainian micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs)’ at an event on May 28 in Kyiv.

The main objective of the report was to provide useful policy recommendations to stakeholders on how to lower gender-based barriers to trade for women-owned and women-managed MSMEs. A gender-based analysis was used to examine the key issues facing men and women MSME owners and top managers as they engage in international trade.

Over 100 participants took part in the event including representatives of international and non-governmental organizations, governmental institutions, academia, media, business, and other interested organizations.

The GBA was conducted by a team of academics at the Centre for Social Indicators associated with the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS).

In total, 432 men-led MSMEs and 209 women-led MSMEs participated from five target industries – apparel, footwear, furniture, confectionery, and IT services.

This report in its gender analysis adds value to previous research on gender and trade by including the perspectives of export-oriented enterprises.

The study’s results highlight several findings that contribute to the global literature on gender and international trade:

1. Women were under-represented compared with men in terms of owning or managing an MSME. On average, only one in three companies was women-led (i.e., majority women-owned or managed). Furthermore, women-led MSMEs in four out of the five industries examined have women-dominant workforces.

2. Of the five target industries—confectionery, apparel, footwear, furniture, and IT—the highest level of women’s leadership was found in apparel, where 45 percent of surveyed MSMEs are led by women.

3. Micro and small women-led companies are slightly less likely to be currently exporting than men-owned companies of the same size. Among non-exporting businesses, we found that women-led MSMEs were less likely than those led by men to consider engaging foreign markets in the future.

4. In three of the five target industries, about half of women-led businesses that sell to domestic markets are not considering export in the future. Export barriers of concern to women-led companies are market entry and customs processes.

5. Over and above trade-related challenges, women-led MSMEs also voiced significant concern about traditional gender stereotypes and the role of women’s double burden in limiting their potential to internationalize their business.

The GBA report also includes 25 recommendations for public and private stakeholders to overcome gender-related barriers. It is our hope that these recommendations spark further discussion and action to bring about a more level playing field for men and women in international trade.

To download the report please follow this link

The Canada-Ukraine Trade and Investment Support (CUTIS) Project is a 5-year (2016-2021) Canadian development assistance initiative designed to lower poverty in Ukraine through increasing exports from Ukraine to Canada and investment from Canada to Ukraine. The project funded by the Canadian Government through the Global affairs Canada and implemented by the Conference Board of Canada in partnership with the Canada-Ukraine Chamber of Commerce.

The CUTIS project implements U CAN EXPORT Support Program in five priority sectors: clothing, footwear, furniture, confectionery, and IT services.