Because many rural women are the primary producers and providers of food for their families, trade policies have particular impacts on their lives and livelihoods. There may be positive impacts, for example in cases where competition drives down food prices and results in more available products. But there may also be negative impacts, for example when the produce that women sell in local markets is not able to compete with these cheaper goods and they are forced to lower their prices. In order to counter these potentially negative effects, certain measures need to be in place. First, a 'bottom up' trade policy approach needs to be implemented, which would involve consultation processes at local and national levels that include representatives from women's networks and organisations. Second, trade officials need to undergo awareness training to sensitise them to using gender-sensitive approaches in their negotiations. NGOs have an important role to play in these processes, but their engagement needs to be rooted in a careful analysis of the potential impacts of trade policy on men and women, and on food security for families and communities, as well as participation from Southern partners - especially women's groups and female members of farmer organisations - and cooperation and partnerships with other relevant organisations.
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