The third edition of the Virtual Institute online course on trade and gender, held January 9 to February 26, trained government officials, UN staff and civil society representatives from 55 countries on the implications of gender for trade.
"I was not aware of the many and crucial dimensions of this important matter and its relevance to international trade, and how it is directly related to my professional activity," said Victoria Francolino, Deputy Permanent Representative of Uruguay to the WTO, UNCTAD, WIPO and ITC.
The course was delivered by the Vi and the Trade, Gender and Development Programme, as part of a capacity-building project on trade and gender funded by the governments of Finland and Sweden.
Based on the UNCTAD teaching manual on trade and gender, Volume 1: Unfolding the links, the course used a combination of reading material, multimedia lectures, and tutor support to introduce the concepts and analytical frameworks related to the trade and gender relationship.
Participants said the course met or exceeded their expectations, and that they left the course not only with better knowledge of the two-way relationship between trade and gender, but also very motivated to apply it in their work.
"As an economist, I have never come across a program that gives detailed analysis of the link between trade and gender. Gender issues are mostly treated under other social studies, said Edna Osei-Appiah, Economic Research Analyst at Ghana's Institute for Fiscal Studies. "This course was an eye-opener."
For some participants, it was the opportunity to deepen their understanding of the nexus between trade policy and gender inequality, a nexus they had not had the opportunity to fully explore previously.
"The content of the course is much more interesting than I thought," said Patricia Carvalho, professor at Brazil's Cedeplar/Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais. "The gender perspective is a different point of view of learning and thinking about trade"
According to the feedback, participants are now better equipped to support gender-responsive policy-making in their respective countries, matching one of the main goals of the course.
"Before attending this course I was not aware of some aspects of gender inequality, said Bruno Araujo, Lecturer at Mozambican Vi core university member, Eduardo Mondlane University." My knowledge on the subject increased a lot. I am now better prepared to provide policy recommendations to the policymakers of my country."
For some participants, the course brought new knowledge and resources to share through their own training efforts.
"The course has not only enriched my knowledge, but also provided many evidence-based cases on how trade influences women differently in different countries," said Galyna Meshcheryakova, Gender Expert at the Canada-Ukraine Trade and Investment Support Project. "The information helped very much to prepare a training course for representatives of the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine about the application of gender-based analysis for commodity selection for export."
"I feel ready to teach in the area of improving gender equality," said Moses Lameck Mfune, Customs and Trade Facilitation Specialist at the Dar es Salaam Corridor Committee Secretariat. "This is important for my country because it is one reason that is holding back economic development."
"I will incorporate the materials covered in my teaching of Development Economics and International Trade courses," added Ahmed Elwalied, Associate Professor of Economics at the Islamic University of Madinah in Sudan.