Esta página no está disponible en el idioma seleccionado Spanish : Español y la proponemos por consiguiente en English : English.

The global Customs community celebrates International Women’s Day 2019

08 marzo 2019

The World Customs Organization (WCO) is pleased to join the international community in celebrating International Women’s Day 2019 with the theme ‘Think equal, build smart, innovate for change,’ which focuses on innovative ways to advance gender equality, particularly in relation to social protection systems, access to public services, and sustainable infrastructure.

This year’s theme relates to the United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which require transformative shifts, integrated approaches and new solutions in order to achieve the development objectives set out in Agenda 2030, with goal number 5 aimed at achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.

As part of her official message in honour of International Women’s Day, Executive Director of UN Women Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said, "Together we can make the voices of women and girls vibrate everywhere." This is indeed the case as the world collectively gears up to celebrate a future in which innovation and technology create unprecedented opportunities for women and girls to play a more active role, thereby accelerating the achievement of the SDGs and gender equality.

Secretary General Mikuriya stated that, “It is crucial for the WCO’s Members to ensure that they have a responsive gender equality policy in place that reflects the dynamic and innovative role played by women in Customs across the globe. International Women’s Day provides the ideal opportunity for the Customs community to take stock of progress made and work ahead towards attaining our gender equality goal, which is one of the pillars to achieving sustainable development as well as a more balanced and inclusive society.”

Gender equality and diversity is high on the WCO’s agenda and has been part of the WCO capacity building priorities since 2013, when the WCO organized the ‘Women in Customs, Trade and Leadership Conference’, which was followed, in the same year, by the launch of the ‘WCO Gender Equality Organizational Assessment Tool’ (GEOAT), which enables Customs administrations to assess their own policies and procedures to advance gender equality.

The Jamaica Customs Agency, chairperson of the Capacity Building Committee and among the few Customs Administrations having a woman, Ms. Velma Ricketts Walker, at its head acknowledges the increasingly pivotal roles played by women in advancing Customs in the 21st Century, stated through the Commissioner that, “The demonstrated competence, talent, skills and expertise which women have added to the workforce has better equipped Customs administrations with balanced, highly resilient, and the responsive human capital it requires.  To demonstrate our commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment, we must ensure that such policy is institutionalized within our Customs administrations.”

Commissioner Ricketts Walker further emphasized that, “On this auspicious occasion, in order to achieve gender equality and female empowerment, we must recognize the capacity, ingenuity and fortitude that women bring to any environment or position.”

The WCO continues to actively assist Customs administrations to achieve their gender equality objectives. At the next session of the WCO Capacity Building Committee in April 2019, the Organization will launch an updated version of the GEOAT that will contain additional chapters, for instance, on how to implement gender mainstreaming through project management, with cross-cutting indicators as well as definitions of gender equality and diversity related topics.

In addition, the WCO will launch its first e-learning module on how to advance gender equality in Customs, as part of its newly developed blended training package in this field. This module aims at raising general awareness among Customs officials on gender equality and its links to the work done by Customs in a holistic and practical way; for instance, in the fields of human resource management, trade facilitation, and border operations.

This module will be available on the CLiKC! Platform in both English and French. The blended training package, which also comprises a one-week workshop for middle and senior managers focusing on how to implement gender mainstreaming, has been funded by the Government of Finland, through the WCO Customs Capacity Building project for the East and Southern Africa (ESA) region.

Moreover, a Virtual Working Group (VWG) on Gender Equality and Diversity was launched in 2017. Composed of representatives from Customs administrations who have expressed an interest in the topic, the VWG holds meetings every two months where various issues related to gender equality and diversity in Customs are discussed. The VWG has enabled the collection and dissemination of best practices and examples of relevant Action Plans.

The WCO has also developed and disseminated a second survey on gender equality and diversity to all its Members, in order to obtain an overview of the gender balance within Customs administrations, and to have a better idea of how Members are working with this topic. This second survey is a follow-up of a first one dating back to 2016. So far, the WCO has received responses from 59 Members and replies are still being received.

The WCO also continues to attend international events on the topic of gender equality and trade, in order to stay informed on global trends and participate in the discussions. These events included ‘Closing the Gender Gaps: The Buenos Aires Declaration on Women and Trade at Year One’ organized by the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Bank Group, and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The WCO reaffirms its strong commitment to keep on finding proactive ways to raise awareness on the importance of advancing gender equality and diversity in the global Customs Community, and in working closely with its international partners to move this agenda forward to support human rights and sustainable development.