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On March 11, 2009 President Obama signed an Executive Order creating the White House Council on Women and Girls. The mission of the Council is to provide a coordinated federal response to the challenges confronted by women and girls and to ensure that all Cabinet and Cabinet-level agencies consider how their policies and programs impact women and families.
USTR has already taken steps to fulfill the President's goals in this regard. Developing an outreach strategy that incorporates stakeholders from all facets of the community, we are working to ensure that U.S. trade policy is used as an effective tool to benefit women.
Recognizing that trade policy benefits women at home and abroad, USTR is using trade policy to achieve objectives such as poverty reduction, promoting rule of law, and improving the financial and socio-economic status of women and children. Whether through job creation, market access or the improvement in the overall standard of living, including within the home, opportunities can be created to impact the lives of women.
U.S. Free Trade Agreements include provisions to promote more effective and efficient trade capacity building assistance to all sectors of society, including programs that improve the ability of women and girls to participate more effectively in the domestic and global marketplace.
One of the more recent examples of this initiative is in Guatemala where a group of Guatemalan agricultural producers (Labradores) with assistance from USAID, strengthened production and became certified for Good Agricultural and Manufacturing Practices. As a result of its improved ability to comply with international requirements, Wal-Mart signed up Labradores to supply vegetables and fruits to its Central American outlets. The majority of the jobs in the packing plant went to women. This is just one of the many stories of how trade benefits women and girls. Without strong U.S.- Guatemalan trade relations, these jobs would not have solidified.
Such firm-level assistance is a typical trade capacity building mechanism that directly enhances the capacity of small- and medium-scale enterprises throughout Central America and the Dominican Republic.
USTR also administers the four U.S. tariff preference programs that provide enhanced access for developing countries' exports into the U.S. markets. These programs benefit women, who comprise much of the labor force in developing countries both in larger-scale manufacturing operations and in the home.
Read a blog, written by Deputy USTR Miriam Sapiro, on trade and women here.
The White House's Council on Women and Girls profiled Deputy United States Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro as part of a series entitled 'Meet the Women of the Administration.' Learn more Ambassador Sapiro in the blog post here.