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The Virtual Working Group on Gender Equality and Diversity discusses the gendered impacts of COVID 19 and how it can be relevant to the work of Customs

06 octubre 2020

WCO Members of the Virtual Working Group (VWG) on Gender Equality & Diversity gathered through an online meeting on the 22nd of September to discuss the “COVID 19 and Gender Equality, the gendered impacts of the current crisis and how it can be relevant for Customs administrations”. The meeting provided an opportunity for representatives from 16 Customs administrations (Australia, Brazil, Eswatini, the Gambia, Iceland, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Liberia, Malawi, the Maldives, Mauritius, Thailand, Uganda, the USA and Zambia) to exchange experiences on the measures each administration has put in place to prevent the spread of COVID 19, particularly focusing on the gendered impacts and how this can be considered by Customs administrations.

Information was shared on the gendered impacts of the global pandemic, particularly focusing on three areas that can relate to the work of Customs, (1) the economic effects and employment, (2) gender based violence and (3) working from home. Reports show that women are more likely to be negatively affected by the economic downturn following COVID 19, due to the gender segregation on the labor market and the fact that women more often are in temporary, part time and precarious employment. Furthermore, it was noted that gender based violence and domestic abuse seem to be increasing as an effect of the global crisis, with reported cases going up in many countries. It was further noted that there can be negative consequences on the wellbeing of staff due to new measures requiring staff to work from home in combination with the closure of schools, and that this particularly tends to negatively affect women due to the increased responsibility of unpaid care work. However, it was also noted that this could also be an opportunity for fathers to get more engaged in sharing household responsibilities.

Among the good examples shared by Members were: offering transport for staff who would otherwise depend on use of public transport, offering webinars on different topics related to wellness and work life balance to support staff working remotely, encouraging stakeholders to use automated procedures to a greater extent and providing specific information targeting traders that are normally not familiar using digital platforms, offering more flexible working arrangements in terms of working hours combined with the possibility to work from home, and setting up a special team to deal with increased levels of gender based violence

It was concluded that Customs, as public administrations and employers, has an important role to play in reducing the gendered impacts of the global pandemic through the various measures put in place both to support the wellbeing of its staff and also to protect the public through for instance enhanced collaboration with other government agencies.

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