Gender Trade Policy at Work

Addressing the Gender Dimension of E-commerce: Towards a Holistic Analytical and Policy Framework

This study examines the gender dimension in E-commerce, identifying the main gender gaps in the e-commerce ecosystem. It also looks through a gendered lens at the emerging e-commerce policies and regulations from the national to the international level. The aim is to generate a deeper understanding of the gender perspectives of E-commerce and to develop a holistic framework for addressing the current gender gaps through appropriate policies and regulations.

By assessing existing major e-commerce policy frameworks, the analysis highlights several common gender inequality aspects in e-commerce such as (i) weaknesses in the capabilities domain, i.e. education and digital skills; (ii) access to resources and opportunities, i.e., lack of connectivity and digital access, access to finance, time use, decision making and; (iii) the security domain, i.e., vulnerability to online frauds and cyber-violence.

It is argued that e-commerce policy frameworks would benefit from adopting gender-specific policy interventions to improve women’s access to hardware and connectivity, empower women entrepreneurs with enhanced e-commerce skills, support women’s access to finance and payment solutions, and promote their security and trust in online businesses processes. Accordingly, the authors propose a holistic framework for integrating gender considerations in all e-commerce related policy areas.

The authors’ proposed framework starts by identifying four key e-commerce policy enablers, namely: (i) ICT and infrastructure; (ii) trade facilitation and market access; (iii) electronic payments; (iv) consumer and business trust, which includes addressing consumer protection, data protection and cybersecurity threats. Under each of the four key e-commerce enablers, the framework addresses the relevant gendered gaps grouped in three categories, i.e., capabilities and skills, resources and opportunities, and security, privacy, and trust.