World Customs Organization celebrates International Women’s Day 2015

09 March 2015

The World Customs Organization (WCO) is pleased to join the international community in celebrating International Women’s Day 2015 under the theme Beijing+20 campaign "Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture it!" and in commemorating the 20th anniversary of the ground-breaking Beijing Conference of 1995.

The signature of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action by 189 governments has led to many achievements and this year’s International Women’s Day gives the international community the opportunity to underscore the many challenges that still remain in achieving gender equality.

Firmly convinced that gender equality can improve organizational performance, the WCO organized a Conference in July 2013 dedicated to the theme "Women in leadership" that was followed by a four-day workshop whose outcomes laid the foundations for the 2014 WCO Gender Equality Organizational Assessment Tool (GEOAT) which was specifically designed for Customs.

The empowerment of women is at the heart of the GEOAT which makes it particularly relevant to the 2015 International Women’s Day theme, as it aims at assisting Customs administrations to assess their policies, practices and activities in order to address gender equality issues and helps them to mainstream gender within their services as part of their modernization programmes.

With a view to testing this tool, a regional workshop took place in Lesotho in April 2014 for 12 Customs administrations in the WCO East and Southern Africa region on GEOAT and its use in introducing possible policies that can contribute to creating an equitable working environment.

"Observing International Women’s Day in the current economic climate is particularly relevant considering that in many countries most informal traders are women," said WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya. "Moreover, many capable women are leading Customs administrations around the world and their leadership contributes to shaping the global agenda while providing a more balanced perspective," the Secretary General added.

The WCO has made a number of remarkable strides in supporting women in Customs leadership, using its Leadership and Management Development (LMD) Programme, while integrating additional modules on organizational diversity into the LMD.