AfCFTA: Empowering women in the AfCFTA - Phase 2 (SheTrades)



    Given the AfCFTA's potential to foster regional value chains and its ambition to encompass goods, services, intellectual property, competition and investment, it is critical that women are well-positioned to seize opportunities in regional trade. The project, SheTrades: Empowering Women in the African Continental Free Trade Area—Phase  II, contributes to  ITC One Trade Africa strategy on African regional integration. It aims to empower women entrepreneurs to benefit from trade opportunities created by the AfCFTA. The project will help design a more inclusive AfCFTA by providing women’s business associations with capacity-building, networking platforms and support for effective policy advocacy on AfCFTA Phase II issues; leveraging the private sector to foster women’s economic empowerment through the AfCFTA; working with ECOWAS to strengthen the ecosystem for women; and promoting public private sector dialogues on women and trade across selected countries. 


    Sustainable Development Goals

    This project contributes to the following Sustainable Development Goals, as defined by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

    Making the AfCFTA work for women entrepreneurs and producers

    A 2020 ITC survey of 70 African women's business associations found that 70% of them have not been meaningfully involved in negotiations and their members are not taking advantage of existing regional trade agreements.

    To make the AfCFTA work for women, SheTrades adopts a four-pronged approach to engage with African women and their business associations, and to promote their participation in and shaping of the AfCFTA:

    • Developed 9 policy briefs on priorities for women in trade facilitation, non-tariff barriers, standards, trade in services, ICTs & digital trade, strengthening women’s associations, investment, competition, intellectual property, and e-commerce.
    • Published 44 recommendations on Phase I issues for women in the AfCFTA
    • Mobilized more than 50 women’s business associations across the continent
    • Organized peer-to-peer and knowledge-sharing sessions
    • Kicked-off the development of a formal network
    • Supported women’s business associations with training on sustainable business development models, governance of associations, service portfolio development, and risk management
    • Bolstered policy advocacy skills
    • Provided technical assistance and capacity building on gender-mainstreaming into AfCFTA national strategies
    • Supported national-level consultations on gender issues and the AfCFTA
    A 2020 ITC survey of 70 African women's business associations found that 70% of them have not been meaningfully involved in negotiations…
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    The SheTrades Initiative has developed a range of AfCFTA-related resources for women entrepreneurs, women’s business associations, and policymakers:

    Modules on the SheTrades Virtual Learning Space

    • Fostering an Inclusive African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA): English - French
    • Making COMESA Work for Women: English
    • Leveraging Intra-Regional Trade in the Context of ECCAS and the AfCFTA for Women: English - French




    Policy Briefs


    SheTrades AfCFTA brochure

    ITC contact

    Ma Diyina Gem
    darbo [at]