International Women’s Day 2023: launch of the second edition of the WCO Compendium on Gender Equality and Diversity in Customs

08 March 2023

On 8 March, the World Customs Organization (WCO) joins the international community in celebrating International Women’s Day 2023, focusing on the United Nations’ theme “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality”, which highlights the importance of innovation and technological change, as well as of education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls.

In line with the digital transformation of Customs, which is one of the WCO’s key priorities, Customs administrations are encouraged to digitalize services and automate procedures to facilitate trade across borders and ensure fairer and more transparent services. While digitalization can significantly improve equal access to services, Customs must also reflect on gender-specific imbalances and trends with regard to access to and use of these digital tools, for instance among women cross-border traders, and take these into account when engaging with stakeholders, and designing systems and training.

“Bringing women and other groups that may risk marginalization into the technology fold has become all the more important as part of the ongoing digital transformation of Customs, further accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic”, said Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, WCO Secretary General. “Against this background, the WCO aims to support Members in nurturing the next generation by promoting a culture of knowledge-sharing and professional pride in Customs, while emphasizing the importance of gender equality and inclusion in addressing an increasingly digitalized economy”, he added.

On this day, the WCO is launching the second edition[1] of its Compendium on Gender Equality and Diversity in Customs, which was made possible thanks to the financial support of His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) of the United Kingdom, under the WCO Accelerate Trade Facilitation Programme. It showcases the best practices of 12 Customs administrations around the world. These examples not only illustrate the diversity of the WCO’s membership, but also the ways Customs administrations implement gender responsive and inclusive measures in line with their policy framework and based on their specific contexts.

As gender equality, diversity and inclusion remain high on the WCO’s agenda, a range of tools are available to support Members in this area. Among them is the Gender Equality Organizational Assessment Tool (GEOAT), a key self-assessment tool to help Customs administrations conduct an analysis of the situation in different areas of Customs competence and develop adequate corrective measures.

In December 2020, the WCO also adopted a Declaration on Gender Equality and Diversity in Customs, through which gender equality and diversity (GED) are recognized as prerequisites for achieving sustainable development, growth and competitiveness.

A blended training package titled “Advancing Gender Equality in Customs” has also been made available to Members, comprising two dedicated e-learning modules which are available on the WCO CLiKC! platform.

These tools are used for conducting capacity-building activities with Members. In addition, to further support Members in implementing GED policies and practices, a pool of recognized GED Experts is being created to support global capacity-building efforts in this area.

This will continue building on existing initiatives to enhance this agenda and promote an exchange of experiences, including in the Virtual Working Group on Gender Equality and Diversity in Customs which was launched in 2017. This Working Group was complemented, in 2022, with the establishment of the Network for Gender Equality and Diversity in Customs, aimed at promoting champions to drive change.

[1] This follows the first edition, issued in 2021, which brought together 17 examples from Members and was also made possible with the financial support of the United Kingdom.

Message of the Secretary General