While economic empowerment of women is an important objective in itself, women's economic activity also matters as a condition for sustained economic growth. The political debate on the labor market impacts of international trade typically differentiates workers by their educational attainment or skills. Gender is a further dimension in which the impacts of trade liberalization can differ. In a globalizing world it is important to understand whether and how trade policy can contribute toward enhancing gender convergence in labor market outcomes.
Since there are several potential reasons why gender inequality exists in the first place, there are also multiple channels through which trade liberalization can have an effect on gender inequality:
Competition promoting effects of trade liberalization can reduce discrimination, by driving discriminating firms out of business or inducing firms to discriminate less.
Trade liberalization induces firms to invest in new technology, which can lead to manufacturing jobs being less physically demanding and more suited to women.
If countries have a comparative advantage in female-intensive products, or if trade policies benefit these industries, trade can increase women's relative employment and wages.