Gendering Trade Policy in Asia

Dr Rabi Ah Aminudin1

1International Islamic University Malaysia, Gombak, Malaysia

Trade policy has been considered as gender neutral for decades due to the monopoly of men in the area and lack of awareness on the importance of applying a gender lens in trade policy analysis in Asia. This has led to the neglect of the different impacts of trade policy towards men and women, especially in the discussion of trade liberalisation. The sidelining of the gendered impacts of trade policy has resulted in the lack of creativity in finding solutions to trade and economic development woes especially in developing countries. Women, especially in developing regions are often marginalised in the decision-making process and more often than not, have a large gap in terms of their economic participation due to various reasons such as socio-cultural and economic reasons. Asian countries such as Malaysia has experienced a huge improvement in terms of female education still receive low marks for female economic participation (Gender Gap Index Report, 2018). Trade policies need to be more gender sensitive as women active roles in trade also are often masked by the fact that their involvement in trade usually happen in Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and the impacts of trade policies to female traders are different to men. Secondly, women’s participation in economic activities are more likely to be vulnerable, unstable, and lowly protected (UNCTAD, 2014).


Rabi Ah Aminudin is the Head, Department of Political Science at the International Islamic University Malaysia since 2019. Her main interests are gender and politics, women and comparative politics, gender and public policy in non-Western settings as well as multiculturalism and the politics of identity.



The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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