A partnership with academia

Building knowledge for trade and development



Twenty-five researchers from 16 countries in sub-Saharan Africa took part in the Virtual Institute (Vi) regional workshop on trade and gender analysis, held in Potchefstroom, South Africa, June 15-19.

Jointly organized with UNCTAD's Trade, Gender and Development Section (TGDS), the event was hosted by Vi South African affiliate member, the North-West University, and funded by the Government of Finland.

Based on the second volume of the Vi teaching material on trade and gender, "Empirical analysis of the trade and gender links," the workshop aimed to equip African researchers with the knowledge needed to analyze the two-way relationship between trade and gender and ultimately produce gender-aware policy recommendations.

Participants were trained on state-of-the-art research methodologies on trade and gender and learned about the sources, data and indicators used in empirical analysis in this area.

In addition to theoretical explanations and replications of existing research papers by workshop resource persons, Elizabeth Jane Casabianca and David Zavaleta, participants had the opportunity to engage in hands-on practice using the Stata statistical software.

“I have learnt about the theoretical link which exists between trade and gender and also how to analyze it in practice,” wrote Belmondo Tanankem Vouko, of the Ministry of Economy, Planning and Regional Development of Cameroon.

“What I have learnt in the workshop exceeded my expectations,” added Zibanani Kahaka, of the University of Botswana. It provided a deeper insight into econometric models and the use of Stata both at the macro and micro levels.”

In the words of Angela Kiconco, of the Uganda Bureau of Statistics: “Lectures were informative, applied sessions enlightening, and hands-on exercises fascinating.”

All the participants left the workshop determined to use the newly acquired knowledge and skills in their work.

With regard to teaching, plans include enriching courses on international trade, development economics, agricultural policy and econometrics, offering training on data management and Stata, and providing better support to students.

“The combination of the empirical tools I got through this workshop with the theoretical elements from the online course will be an exceptional input for my seminar on Microeconomic Development,” said Christian Kamala Kaghoma, of the Catholic University of Bukavu, Democratic Republic of the Congo. “This will provide a great opportunity for the students to leave the university with good knowledge on gender issues, something I did not have myself at that level.”

The Vi and the TGDS will further encourage participants to apply workshop knowledge in their research by offering an opportunity to get financial support and expert guidance in the context of “mentored research projects.” Fourteen participants have already expressed interest in applying for these projects and developing policy-relevant trade and gender papers about their countries.

The workshop also provided ideas for further studies. For example, Dawit Desta, of Aksum University, Ethiopia, said: “I am planning to conduct my PhD studies in the area of gender and development and come up with research that might help address the problems of developing countries. I am going to use microeconomic analysis to connect trade and gender in my country.”

“I have started working on a paper on climate-related changes in economic activities for men and women, with a special focus on women,” said Hellen Adzo Seshie-Nasser, of the University of Ghana. “The tools I have gotten from this workshop have given me a clear picture of how to go about the gender analysis in this paper.”

Several participants also intend to use workshop knowledge to advise policymakers or provide them with research inputs.

Belmondo Tanankem Voufo, of the Ministry of Economy, Planning and Regional Development, Cameroon, said: “My country is at the moment in the process of implementing the Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union. With the knowledge acquired in the workshop, I will be in a position to advice my minister on the best options to envisage in the framework of this agreement with regard to gender.”

Françoise Okah-Efogo, of Vi core Cameroonina member, the Université de Yaoundé II, added: “I am doing a consultancy on analyzing trade integration and diversification for development in Cameroon, and can now insert a part showing how structural transformation (shift) of trade from low-technology intensity exportations to high-technology intensity exportations may affect women.”

Overall, the workshop was considered important – not only for participating academics, but also for their countries. As Alphonse Nkareng Letsie, of the Policy Analysis and Research Institute of Lesotho, put it: “There is a limited number of researchers who really understand the interplay between trade and gender. I therefore wish similar projects be extended to other parts of the world to sensitize developing countries on gender issues.”