The WCO Virtual Working Group (VWG) on Gender Equality & Diversity holds its bi-annual meeting

13 November 2023

WCO Members of the Virtual Working Group (VWG) on Gender Equality & Diversity gathered through online meetings on the 8th (in English) and 9th (in French) of November 2023 to discuss recent developments of the WCO programme on advancing gender equality and diversity in Customs.

Items discussed included the outcomes of the Network for Gender Equality and Diversity conference held on the 13th of September 2023, the new updates of the Gender Equality Organizational Assessment Tool (GEOAT) and the progress in creating a pool of Recognized Gender Equality and Diversity experts. With regard to the new, updated version of the GEOAT, the VWG members were informed that the new version would be available online in English and French by mid-December. The updated edition of the GEOAT will include a new template that will make it easier for members to conduct a self-assessment with the help of the indicators in the tool.

The meeting also provided an opportunity for Customs administrations to share their experiences. In particular, Ethiopian Customs and Belgium Customs shared their experiences on how their respective administrations are working to promote gender equality and diversity. Ethiopia Customs presented, for instance, their specific training to support women’s career development opportunities and provision of child care services. Belgium Customs presented various initiatives, including corporate theatre aimed at raising awareness on diversity-related issues, as well as a Federal Diversity and Inclusion Award to commend agencies that have implemented successful initiatives to promote diversity.

In addition, the GED Regional Focal Points for West and Central Africa and East and Southern Africa presented brief summaries of the progress of GED implementation in their respective regions.

The VWG had a total of 71 participants in the two sessions, including representatives from 37 countries (Argentina, Belgium, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Canada, Central African Republic, Colombia, Cote d’Ivoire, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Greece, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kosovo, Lebanon, Maldives, Moldova, Mauritius, Namibia, New Zealand, Niger, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Sweden, Togo, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uganda, USA, Zimbabwe) as well as representatives from 3 Regional Offices of Capacity Building: the Asia Pacific, West and Central Africa, and East and Southern Africa.

The WCO welcomes the rising number of participants in the VWG and considers this a sign of Members’ increasing interest in the GED agenda.

For more information on the GED in Customs initiatives or to join the dedicated VWG, please contact