Eight Types of Provisions to Make the AfCFTA Investment Protocol Gender-Responsive
The ongoing negotiations of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Investment Protocol present a unique opportunity to make intra-African investment work for women by designing a gender-responsive legal framework. This requires an ex-ante assessment, examining how foreign direct investment (FDI) flows affect men and women and identifying the risks and opportunities they generate for both genders. Following this assessment, corresponding measures must be identified to ensure that the gender inequalities are not exacerbated by the increase of intra-African investment, and these should be reflected in the intra-African investment legal framework.
This Trade Report proposes eight types of provisions for the AfCFTA Investment Protocol to guide the intra-African investment regime towards sustainable development and gender equality. The suggestions are consistent with the emerging trend of better balancing investment protection, investors’ rights and obligations, and sustainable development objectives within international investment agreements (IIAs). For example, the Protocol could include gender equality as one of the objectives, reiterate commitments to non-discrimination and equal pay in labour provisions, set out the implementation of a gender equality policy in corporate social responsibility (CSR) obligations, include gender considerations within the social and environmental impact assessments, or provide for gender parity in the appointment of arbitrators.
These types of provisions aim to increase the accountability of investors to ensure that their activities are consistent with sustainable development and promote gender equality. Governments also have a key role in reconciling international investment with improving living standards and supporting women’s economic empowerment. A gender-responsive business and working environment are critical to enabling women to take full advantage of the opportunities generated by foreign investment flows and to increasing their participation in trade and the development process of African states.
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