GSCF Day 4 – Gender Equality Plenary and Closing Ceremony – Caribbean Trade Law and Development

Alicia Nicholls

Ladies and gentlemen, it is a wrap! The curtains have come down on the inaugural Global Supply Chain Forum, jointly hosted by UN Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the Government of Barbados here in beautiful Barbados, May 21-24. Barbados is no stranger to hosting high-level conferences. But it gives me such pride as a Barbadian to see my country not just propose but host this important forum. Some 1,200 persons reportedly attended the Forum, of which 900 attended in person!

Today’s proceedings commenced with the final plenary which touched on the important theme of gender equality in global supply chains. A key takeaway from the International Labour Organisation (ILO)’s Director General Gilbert Houngbo’s introductory remarks on the panel was that while women now make up a large part of this sector, they still only occupy a small percentage of the higher-level jobs and continue to face several challenges, including poor working conditions, discrimination on the basis of gender and sexual harassment/violence. It was also enlightening to hear from each of the outstanding women on the panel, including the UN Trade and Development SG Rebeca Grynspan, on their own trailblazing journeys and some of the ways their respective organisations are seeking to support and increase women’s participation in this sector.

The closing ceremony featured reflections on the week’s events, key takeaways and some next steps for 2026 in Saudi Arabia. The Forum’s main outcome, the SIDS Ministerial Declaration, was signed by the ministers present and will be one of the inputs into the SIDS 4 conference taking place next week in Antigua.

The Forum was a resounding success! Heartfelt kudos to all involved, including Carlos Wharton, Ambassador Matthew Wilson and their teams and all other members of Team Barbados, as well as the UNCTAD team, including Jan Hoffmann and Pamela Ugaz!

I will be heading to Antigua for SIDS4. Follow us for our updates there!

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