A gender strategy helps in the translation of the symbolic commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment into substantive and actionable entry points. It expressly states actionable guidelines on how to implement and manage gender activities and outcomes including tracking progress over time.
Cross border trade represents an activity that is appropriate to mainstream gender. The activity itself is gendered in so many ways:
Since time immemorial, female mobility was abhorred; Women constitute the bulk of cross border traders (above 70%)
Goods traded are in some cases different for male and female traders; Access to credit and other facilities differ by gender;
Access to information is affected by differences in literacy rates between males and females; Ignorance of trade regulations by the majority of women;
Complex procedures and documents;
Sexual harassment and insecurity during travel; Poor border infrastructure to support hygiene.
Improved conditions for men and women in cross border trade can represent a strategic objective towards achievement of gender equality and women empowerment in matters of economic empowerment in the countries concerned.
It is also crucially important to recognize that cross border trade in all the countries in SACBTA, is simultaneously as much an economic as it is a social enterprise. People often recognize the economic importance of cross border trade at national level. However, what is less appreciated is that at household level, the activity is very much a social enterprise that is deeply nested in existing cultural norms. Cultural norms dictate gender roles, distribute rights and privileges, and locate power to own, manage, access, and control resources. Therefore, for SACBTA, the starting point should always be to understand how and in what contexts gender norms constrain and or facilitate cross border trade. Gender integration into SACBTA and in cross border trade is ultimately about providing equal opportunities to men, women, youth and other vulnerable groups. This gender strategy therefore goes beyond looking at gender from a perspective of numbers of men and women to start to understand the implications of each and every step in the procedures, processes and practices and their impacts.
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Many businesses, large and small, have a huge source of great ideas that can help them improve, innovate, and grow, and yet so many of these companies never think of using this amazing corporate asset. What is this highly valuable asset? Its own people.