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WCO promotes Gender Equality and Diversity

Gender Equality and Diversity are fundamental rights outlined in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) from 1948, are considered prerequisites for achieving sustainable development and growth; and for enhancing performance in organizations. Moreover, Gender Equality is a priority of the UN’s International Development Agenda for 2030, objective number 5 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which outlines the need for providing women and girls with equal access to education, health care, decent work and representation in political and economic decision-making.  Evidence further indicates that including gender equality and diversity in capacity building and development programmes contributes to improving the overall outcomes and to ensuring sustainability of activities. Based on the above, the WCO finds it essential to make Gender Equality and Diversity one of the priorities in its capacity building agenda.

The WCO started its work to promote Gender Equality and Diversity in Customs in 2013, when the WCO organized the international conference “Women in Customs, Trade and Leadership”, gathering 160 participants from 50 countries. This conference addressed issues such as challenges faced by women traders and the need to engage women’s organizations in the discussions on international trade.

As an outcome of this conference, the WCO developed the Gender Equality Organizational Assessment Tool (GEOAT), which aims at assisting Customs Administrations in assessing their policies, practices and activities to see where to further address gender equality issues as an integrated part of their reform and modernization agenda. Together with the support from Members, the WCO updated this tool in 2019 to add new chapters including definitions of gender equality and diversity related concepts, a chapter on how to implement gender mainstreaming through project management and new cross-cutting indicators necessary for the implementation of gender mainstreaming.

The WCO has also launched the WCO Virtual Working Group for Gender Equality and Diversity with the purpose to provide a platform for Members to exchange experience and good practices, as well as to raise awareness of the GEOAT. The group is composed of assigned representatives from Members and hold meetings approximately every 2 months. The group also has a specific section in the CliKC! Platform where reports and good practices are shared.

In 2018, the WCO also developed a Blended training package “Advancing Gender Equality in Customs”. The development of this training package was funded by the Government of Finland through the East and Southern Africa Capacity Building Programme II. This training package is composed of two tracks;

  • A one week workshop targeting middle and senior Customs managers focusing on how to implement gender equality in Customs and its links to customs reform and modernization.
  • An e-learning module accessible in English and French in the CliKC! Platform aiming at raising general awareness on gender equality, targeting all Customs officers.

The WCO has also disseminated two surveys on gender equality and diversity in Customs, the first one in 2016 and the second one in 2019, to gather data on the gender balance within Customs Administrations and to get a better understanding on how advanced Members are in this area. The WCO received around 60 replies to the first survey (2016) and 95 replies to the second survey (2019).

The Secretariat has also incorporated a module addressing Gender Equality and Inclusiveness in its Leadership and Management Development (LMD) Programme as well as in its People Development Diagnostic tool.
The WCO is looking forward to further promoting Gender equality and Diversity in its activities and invites its Members keep the Secretariat informed of any initiatives taken in this regard.

More information on these initiatives can be found on the links below. Contact: capacity.building@wcoomd.org