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Objectives: This study seeks to investigate the impact of trade openness on women labor force participation in South Asian countries. Thus, a country that is exporting female labor stuff is actually recruiting more female labor and enlarges employment opportunity of female labors.

Methods/ Statistical analysis: To analyze the characteristics of trade and labor market in South Asia, we empirically study the main determinants of female employment and female employment in different sectors like agriculture, industry, and service over the period, 1991 and 2017, using panel data. The model was estimated by Multiple Linear Regression method with countries fixed effects. This study also controls GDP per capita, women literacy rate, urban population, unemployment rate, male labor force participation and other attributes.

Findings: We examined the impact of the 90s trade liberalization in most of the South Asian countries on female labor force participation, employment, and empowerment. While on aggregate the female labor force participation rate in South Asian countries increased from 32 to 53%, the findings showed that trade openness made a faster increase in female labor force participation not only in the whole economy also different subsectors. The paper also checks the robustness of a variety of different approaches in dealing with the various models to female labor force participation in various sectors. Our findings expose that, trade openness increases the women participation in the service and industrial sector, but it decreases the number of women working in the agricultural sector. The paper also inspects both push and pull factors induced or not women to join the labor market.

Applications: This study will contribute in several ways to the academic work and policy debate on the gender effects of trade liberalization. While these analyses can be useful to inform policymakers for optimal trade reforms. The paper also suggests the government will apply the effective rate of protection (ERP) to change trade policy so that women participation in the labor market will accelerate. 


Trade Openness, Women Participation, International Trade.