Smartphone with enlargement of image reading in part "Crossing borders, breaking barriers"
Woman in business attire speaks in front of banner reading in part "Ready4Trade Central Asia)
Group of trade experts pose for group photo inside conference centre
Panel of women sit on white chairs to discuss trade in Central Asia

ITC unveils crucial gender inclusivity insights in Central Asia

8 mai 2024
ITC News

A landmark survey across five countries revealed that many women are already engaging in international trade, highlighting how training and policy support could boost their businesses.

The survey by the International Trade Centre (ITC) sought to understand the challenges confronting women in cross-border trade. More than 1,500 women were surveyed across Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. 

On 3 April, the EU-funded ITC Ready4Trade project showcased the findings during the 11th Asia-Pacific Trade Facilitation Forum. The results showed significant advancements for women in trade, along with data-driven insights and success stories in gender-inclusive trade facilitation.   

The session allowed policymakers and representatives from government and businesses to explore the survey's key findings, shedding light on the complexities of gender-responsive trade facilitation. A panel discussion dug into strategies on gender-inclusive trade practices. 

Survey insights: Breaking barriers in women's trade  

Nearly one third of women are informal traders. Of those, half run small businesses with less than 10 employees, while 90% perform household work on top of their business activity. 

Customary laws and entrenched gender stereotypes continue to impede progress, underscoring the uphill battle for gender parity.   

Furthermore, the data exposes a widespread struggle for women to navigate complex border regulations. Only 35% of surveyed women entrepreneurs had received trade-related training. They said training would bolster their trade potential.  

As the quest for gender-inclusive trade practices continues, the journey towards international expansion for women remains fraught with challenges. 

Graphic showing smartphone and enlargement of image reading in part "Crossing borders, breaking barrier"

Transformative impact of gender-responsive customs training 

Key strategy included comprehensive gender-responsive training for over 650 customs officials, aimed at fostering an inclusive and supportive border environment.  

Sixty percent of trained officials now implement gender-sensitive practices in their operations, enhancing procedural transparency and reducing trade barriers.  

This initiative has seen more women take up customs roles, including leadership positions. That significantly empowers female traders and entrepreneurs across the region.  

Charting a way forward: advancing gender-inclusive trade reforms

Governments, business associations, and development partners in Central Asia have made strides in gender-responsive policymaking. 

There remain significant opportunities for improvement. This includes providing clear access to trade information via portals and one-stop desks, and considering simplified trade regimes for smoother cross-border activities for women traders and small businesses.  

Additionally, ITC encourages specific reforms: 

  • strengthening partnerships between women business associations and national trade facilitation committees; 
  • establishing gender focal points within public institutions to create a more supportive environment at borders; 
  • providing key insights into the type of training and infrastructure facilities needed to achieve this. 



14 mai 2024
ITC Reveals Gender-Inclusivity Breakthroughs in Central Asia

About the project: 

Ready4Trade Central Asia is a four-year EU-funded project implemented by the International Trade Centre in close collaboration with national partners, designed to contribute to the overall sustainable and inclusive economic development of Central Asia by boosting intra-regional and international trade in the countries of the region. Beneficiaries of the Ready4Trade Central Asia project include governments, small and medium-sized enterprises, in particular women-led enterprises, and business support organizations.