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Fast Facts

Women and Trade

15 December 2021
ITC News

Women working in trade face more challenges, yet are the driver for economic growth


Helping women-led businesses enter international markets represents an opportunity for economic growth. Here is why!

Businesses led by women tend to be smaller and less likely to export. As small companies often lack the resources to expand into international markets, it is unsurprising that women-led firms are also less likely to export.

Yet, research by the Centre for International Governance Innovation has shown that women-led exporters tend to be more productive, pay higher wages and report above-average sales than exporting firms led by men.

Source: ITC calculations based on the ITC SME Competitiveness Survey. Countries included in the analysis are Argentina, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Gambia, Ghana, Hungary, Kenya, Philippines, Saint Lucia, Togo, Ukraine and Zambia. Women-led firms are defined as those managed by a woman and at least 30% owned by women. Otherwise, firms are defined as men-led.

Women-led firms tend to hire a higher
proportion of women.

Source: ITC calculations based on the ITC SME Competitiveness Survey.

Women were more affected by COVID-19.


A higher proportion of women-led firms are in services, such as accommodation and food as well as retail and wholesale. These were also among the sectors most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, so the vulnerability of women-led companies was accrued during the pandemic.

Source: ITC calculations based on the ITC COVID-19 Business Impact Survey.