Are gender inequalities in trade leading to climate change?

Effects of Trade policy on social and economic activities is different in women and men as their social and economic roles in society are different like access and control of resources, political, socio – cultural and economic factors.  Due to gender biases in education, control of resources, unequal distribution of income, trainings, unequal access to productive inputs this puts women at the back foot in trade and the opportunities trade liberalisation has to offer. At different levels of household, sector and government the impacts of MICRO, MESO and MACRO on trade affect women, girls, men and boys differently but women and girls suffer more. About 70% of the world’s poor 900 million are women (UNDP Human Development Report, 1996).

In Uganda households with informal business are largely found in the central region with 36%; Western region with 26%; Eastern region with 24% while the northern region has 14%.  There are about 1.8 million informal businesses out of the 6.2 million households that were covered. (Uganda National Household Survey Report, 2009/2010). The informal sector is the fastest growing sector in Uganda, with about 43% of the economy (Uganda Bureau of Statistics, 2014). Generally the informal sector is the largest employment source for women in the developing world.
In Sub Saharan Africa about 84% of women outside agriculture are informally employed (Mainstreaming Informal Employment and Gender in Poverty Reduction, 2004). The informal sector does not require a lot of income, it has a lot of customers, and the products are cheap. Its only problem is that it’s not a registered entity and therefore the government cannot locate them.” Makerere University Professor, Prof Augustus Nuwagaba.

As women try to support their families than men (Pitt and Khandker, 1998), they are unable to do so because of limits to credit, and commercial bank’s focus on men who form a large portion of the formal sector, this has pushed women into the informal sector.  Little capital has made the charcoal business attractive to many women, the high dependency of households on wood fuel for cooking of about 96% of Uganda’s population has made the business lucrative. Charcoal production is mainly through cutting of trees increasing the deforestation rate to 1.8% implying that 227,137 acres of forest is lost per year from the total 8.8 million acres of forest cover in Uganda. Charcoal burning releases carbon dioxide in the atmosphere there by causing global warming. 

By Kateregga Dennis, BA(ECON), Dip. IEL 


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