A team from the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School’s International Women’s Human Rights class recently placed third at the G2 Conference and Hackathon Challenge 2021, “How to Make the WTO Fit for Future Trade.” Steven Appel L’ 21 led the team, and Govind Nagubandi ML’23 and Chandra Nukala ML’21 were team members.
The Hackathon was held virtually over three days and co-organized by the Centre for Trade and Economic Integration (CTEI), the Institute of International Economic Law at Georgetown Law, and the Geneva Trade Platform. The participating teams were asked to provide bold ideas and fresh perspectives for the future path of the WTO in light of pandemic-driven challenges to trade and a resurgence of protectionist sentiments.
The Law School team’s proposal, entitled “Feminizing Financing for Trade in Africa: New Approaches to Systemic Challenges,” was selected as one of the top innovative policy proposals for the WTO.
“To address the gender equality gap in informal small-scale cross-border trade across Sub-Saharan Africa, we proposed amending the historic African Continental Free Trade Agreement to better reflect the participating countries commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly those related to gender equality, increasing access to financial services, and south-south cooperation,” said Appel. “More specifically, the amendment we proposed calls for increasing access to capital for women traders through SMS-based microfinance and mobile money platforms, funded by the WTO’s Aid for Trade program, as well as requiring that any multi-national corporation (MNC) engaging in intra- or inter-African trade obey by a ‘gender inclusive trade standard.’”
Upon presenting their proposal at the Geneva conference virtually, the team was awarded a money prize.
“It was an honor and privilege to represent Penn Law at the G2 global hackathon,” said Appel on behalf of the team. “We are particularly indebted to Professor Rangita de Silva de Alwis whose extraordinary courses ‘International Women’s Human Rights: the Shadow Pandemic’ and the AI and Bias Policy Lab served as the inspiration for our team’s submission. [Senior Adjunct Professor of Global Leadership] Rangita de Silva de Alwis’ expert guidance and introduction to Natalie Jabangwe, whom we interviewed, were invaluable in helping our team win third place. It is our sincere hope that under the leadership of the WTO’s new director-general, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, more will be done to empower Africa’s informal women traders.”
The G2 Conference and Hackathon Challenge was sponsored by Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP and Lee & Ko.
Watch the team’s video presentation here: