WITA Webinar: Opportunities for Engagement on Trade and Gender




On March 18, 2021, WITA held the first event in the two- part mini series on Trade and Gender, and discussed the efforts to bring more gender parity in trade. 

To move towards more inclusive trade, international institutions and its member countries can be essential drivers of gender equality and women’s empowerment through trade policy and trade agreements. 

Speakers will discussed how governments and international institutions can work together to bring more gender parity in trade, which has traditionally been thought of as a gender neutral policy issue. 


Welcome: 11:30 AM (US/Eastern)

  • Kenneth I. Levinson, Executive Director, Washington International Trade Association

Remarks and Panelist Discussion: 11:35 AM

  • Pamela Rosemarie Coke-Hamilton, Executive Director, International Trade Centre (ITC)
  • Heather Mae Kipnis, Entrepreneurship | Inclusive Business Lead, IFC Gender and Economic Inclusion Group
  • Sara Wilshaw, Chief Trade Commissioner, Government of Canada
  • Rodrigo Yáñez Benítez, Vice Minister of Trade, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Chile
  • Moderator: Laura Lane, Chief Corporate Affairs, Communications and Sustainability Officer, UPS

Followed by:

  • Q & A with Audience Moderated by Ken – Webinar attendees are encouraged to use the Q&A function on the Zoom app to submit their questions in real time.


Pamela Rosemarie Coke-Hamilton, is Executive Director, International Trade Centre (ITC). ITC is the joint agency of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the World Trade Organization (WTO), for trade and international business development. 

Previously Director of the Division on International Trade and Commodities at UNCTAD, Ms. Coke-Hamilton brings a breadth of experience and expertise in trade-related capacity-building and sustainable development, having served with the Jamaican Government, the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) Member States in trade negotiations and multilateral institutions, including the Organization of American States and InterAmerican Development Bank. She previously served as Executive Director of the Caribbean Export Development Agency, strengthening the capacity of private sector and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) through investment promotion.  

She brings a deep understanding of the challenges faced by vulnerable economies such as the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) having designed tailored interventions. She has worked extensively with the private sector across the African Caribbean and Pacific countries as well as with universities and academia to build trade-related institutional strength within Member States. As a strong proponent of gender equality and mainstreaming in trade, she established the Women Empowered through Export (WeXport) platform to address the disadvantages women owned firms experience in accessing markets. 

She holds a Juris Doctor in Law from Georgetown University and an undergraduate degree in International Relations from the University of the West Indies. She is fluent in English, advanced in French with a working knowledge of Spanish.

Heather Mae Kipnis is the Women’s Entrepreneurship and Inclusive Business Product Lead for IFC’s Gender and Economic Inclusion Group. In this role, she is the global technical specialist advising project teams, clients, and partners on how to close gender gaps in access to finance, markets, and non-financial services — with the goal of unlocking opportunities for increased profit, growth and innovation for both IFC clients and women entrepreneurs in emerging markets. Additionally, she leads global product development, partnerships, and research for new advisory and investment solutions that support women entrepreneurs and individuals at the base of the economic pyramid.

Heather brings 20 years of experience in international development and financial services across Latin America & the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East. Prior to IFC, Heather led the programs and educational activities for a network of 75,000 women-led small to medium enterprises and held positions in impact investing and private wealth management. Heather has served as an advisor for the Aspen Institute’s ANDE Gender Inclusion Learning Lab, and the Global Impact Investing Networks (GIIN) gender-lens investing initiative.

Heather has an MBA in Global Management from Thunderbird School of Global Management and a Bachelor’s of Science in Decision and Information Sciences from University of Florida. 

Laura Lane is Chief Corporate Affairs, Communications and Sustainability Officer at UPS. In this role she oversees Public Policy and Government Affairs, Public Relations, Employee Communications, and the UPS Foundation and is a member of UPS’s Executive Leadership Team reporting to CEO Carol Tomé.

Laura began her UPS career as President, Global Public Affairs in 2011 and was responsible for worldwide government affairs activities for UPS in over 220 countries and territories. She managed a global team of over 80 government affairs and strategic communications professionals. In a short time, she strengthened UPS growth and competitiveness, including successfully advocating for comprehensive tax reform; enhancing network efficiencies through infrastructure investments; securing alternative fuel credits in support of sustainability; working to modernize trade agreements and customs processes; leveling the playing field with postal networks; facilitating UPS Flight Forward certification; and advocating for laws that promote equity and justice in the workplace.

Prior to joining UPS, Laura served in both the public and private sectors. She was managing director and head of International Government Affairs at Citigroup and vice president for Global Public Policy with Time Warner.

In her government career, Laura served as a trade negotiator in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative in the negotiation of China’s entry to the World Trade Organization (WTO), the WTO Financial Services Agreement and the WTO Basic Telecommunications Agreement. She also served as a diplomat in the U.S. Foreign Service from 1990-1997, including serving as consular/economic officer in Bogota, Colombia and then at the American Embassy in Kigali, Rwanda. In Rwanda, she led evacuation efforts during the outbreak of civil war and returned as political advisor to U.S. forces providing humanitarian relief in the post-conflict environment. In a recent TED Talk, Laura describes that first-hand account and the importance of advocating for positive change.

Laura currently serves as co-chair of the President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa (PAC-DBIA). She is also a member of the Board of UNHCR USA and previously served as a U.S. government appointed delegate for the APEC Business Advisory Council. Laura is a member of the board of several U.S. business associations and non-profits, including serving on the Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital.

Laura graduated summa cum laude from Loyola University with a Bachelor’s degree in political science and history. As a Truman Scholar, she also graduated summa cum laude from Georgetown University with a Master of Science degree in foreign service in international economics and business diplomacy.

Sara Wilshaw, is Canada’s Chief Trade Commissioner and Assistant Deputy Minister at Global Affairs Canada. She leads a global team that helps Canadian business find new customers, troubleshoot market access, sell their products, and grow their businesses (www.tradecommissioner.gc.ca).Sara also leads work across global trade support services including export finance, foreign investment and responsible business conduct.

Prior to her current role, Sara served as Director of Operations, Foreign and Defence Policy Secretariat at the Privy Council Office. In this role she provided strategic analysis and advice to the Prime Minister, the Clerk of the Privy Council, the National Security and Intelligence Advisor and the Foreign and Defence Policy Advisor on matters concerning Canada-U.S. relations, Latin America, Trade issues, Climate Change, Human Rights and the UN.

Prior to joining PCO, Sara led the North America Bureau at Global Affairs Canada during the renegotiation of NAFTA as Director General. She was previously appointed to represent Canada as Consul General in Dallas, and as Senior Trade Commissioner in New Delhi, India, and she has extensive experience in trade promotion and negotiations, including at Canada’s Permanent Mission to the World Trade Organization in Geneva and at the Embassy of Canada in Japan.

Her headquarters experience at Global Affairs Canada includes both functional and geographic, as well as foundational work on the Global Commerce Strategy, Corporate Social Responsibility for the Extractive Sector, modernization of the Trade Commissioner Service, trade policy consultations and communications, as well as human resources.

Ms. Wilshaw is a graduate of York University’s International Relations and Economics program. She is married and has two children.

Rodrigo Yáñez Benítez, serves as the Vice Minister of Trade in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Chile. In 2008, while working as a researcher for the Instituto Libertad, Yáñez Benítez participated in the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) focusing on U.S. foreign policy. During his IVLP, he learned about the collaborative nexus between policies, public interest groups, and government institutions. Thanks in part to the knowledge he acquired through his IVLP, Yáñez Benítez became an advisor to congressional leaders in the Foreign Relations Committee in both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate.

Yáñez Benítez further contributed to Chile’s foreign affairs by working on a peacekeeping law, which enabled Chile to contribute to global peacekeeping efforts, and on efforts to modernize the Foreign Ministry, which created progressive reforms in the Ministry’s structure and operations. He also served as Senior Advisor to President Piñera on international and regulatory affairs, where he developed foreign policy proposals and oversaw the implementation of domestic policy initiatives for different Ministries. In 2011, Yáñez Benítez was involved in creating the Pacific Alliance group, a trade bloc between Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru, to facilitate regional integration. As Vice Minister of Trade, he leads Chile’s intense bilateral and multilateral trade agenda, including active participation in multilateral trade fora such as APEC, Pacific Alliance, and WTO.

When asked about the impact of his IVLP, Yáñez Benítez says, “I believe it strengthened my longstanding commitment to contribute to my country from the international perspective. Having met people with so many different backgrounds, all connected around a strong commitment to international understanding and cultural exchange, has been of great inspiration.”

Rodrigo Yáñez Benítez is a trade policy expert who has strengthened Chile’s international trading policies and bolstered Chile’s economy by diversifying its regional exports and creating new international agreements.

Kenneth Levinson is the Executive Director of the Washington International Trade Association (WITA). WITA is Washington’s largest non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to providing a neutral forum in the U.S. capital for the open and robust discussion of international trade policy and economic issues. WITA has over 4,000 members, and more than 170 corporate sponsors and group memberships.

Previously, Ken served as Senior Director for Global Government Affairs for AstraZeneca. Prior to joining AstraZeneca, Ken served as Senior Vice President and COO at the Washington, DC consulting firm of Fontheim International. Ken started his career on the staff of U.S. Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV, where he served as the Senator’s chief advisor for international trade, tax, foreign policy, and national security.

Ken received a Master’s degree in European History from New York University after doing his undergraduate work at the University of Massachusetts, in Amherst. Ken also spent a year studying at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Ken and his wife, the Reverend Donna Marsh, live in Bethesda, MD, with their two daughters.