Brussels, 10 March 2014
The World Customs Organization (WCO) acknowledges the accomplishments and contributions of all women across the globe on the occasion of International Women’s Day 2014 that is celebrated annually by the international community on 8 March.
According to the United Nations (UN), International Women’s Day (IWD) is a day when women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political.
The WCO has actively embraced gender equality, recognizing that women continue to make a large contribution to the rapid progress that is being achieved in Customs, which is in line with this year’s UN theme for IWD: ‘Equality for women is progress for all’.
"It is vital that the global Customs community uses International Women’s Day to underscore the important role of women in international trade and the valuable part they play in the many successes that Customs administrations have attained year on year," said WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya.
In further reference to IWD, the UN states that it is an occasion for looking back on past struggles and accomplishments, and more importantly, for looking ahead to the untapped potential and opportunities that await future generations of women.
"This International Women’s Day we are highlighting the importance of achieving equality for women and girls not simply because it is a matter of fairness and fundamental human rights, but because progress in so many other areas depends on it," said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his official message.
To raise the profile of gender issues among Customs and its stakeholders, in July 2013 the WCO hosted its first Women in Customs, Trade and Leadership Conference under the broad theme of opening up opportunities for women through Customs reform and modernization.
While stressing the value of harnessing the opportunities created by women’s leadership and using it to the benefit of an organization, the Conference outcomes also placed the WCO in a better position to integrate gender equality perspectives into its work.
The WCO Women in Leadership Workshop, which followed the Conference, helped to lay the foundations for the development of the WCO Gender Equality Organizational Assessment Tool that has been designed specifically for Customs, and which will be discussed by the WCO Capacity Building Committee in March/April 2014.
To give further effect to its commitment to gender equality and diversity issues, the WCO’s innovative Leadership and Management Development Programme (LMDP) is increasingly targeting women, while integrating additional modules on organizational diversity into the LMDP.
In 1911, the very first IWD was launched on 19 March, but in 1913 it was transferred to 8 March and celebrated ever since on this day, receiving international recognition by the UN in 1975 during International Women’s Year.