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The global Customs community celebrates International Women’s Day 2021

08 marzo 2021

Today, on 8 March, the World Customs Organization (WCO) is pleased to join the international community in celebrating International Women’s Day 2021, focusing on the United Nations’ theme of “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world”, which highlights the importance of women’s role in shaping the future following the COVID-19 pandemic.

The importance of putting people at the centre of the recovery process is essential in the post-COVID era. This is also stressed by the WCO in its 2021 theme of “Customs bolstering Recovery, Renewal and Resilience for a sustainable supply chain”.

WCO Members are encouraged to integrate diversity and inclusion in their organizational policies, both in terms of internal policies, such as human resource management, leadership and career development, as well as external policies, such as collaboration with stakeholders.

Credit: UN Women/Yihui Yuan

In the past year, reports have attested to the fact that gender-based violence has increased during the pandemic. Customs, in their capacity as public administrations, are called upon to remain vigilant and do their utmost to prevent this phenomenon both within their organization and in their engagement with stakeholders. Another impact of the pandemic is the economic downturn. It is estimated that women will be disproportionately affected by the economic impact of COVID-19, given that they are more frequently employed in insecure jobs.

“Mainstreaming gender equality and diversity into Customs’ daily work is key for recovery as it contributes to making organizations and societies more adaptive, inclusive and thereby more resilient”, said Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, WCO Secretary General. “I would like to express my appreciation to all WCO Members for adopting our Declaration in December 2020. This illustrates the increased interest by WCO Members in further advancing this agenda, gender equality and diversity being a prerequisite for achieving sustainable development, growth and competitiveness”, Secretary General Mikuriya added.

The WCO Declaration on Gender Equality and Diversity in Customs calls for Customs administrations to share their experiences of strengthening gender equality and diversity as well as of monitoring and evaluating methodologies to assess and report progress in this area.

This celebration provides a good opportunity to announce the release of the first edition of the “WCO Compendium on Gender Equality and Diversity in Customs”, which is now available on the WCO website. This publication was made possible thanks to the United Kingdom’s Prosperity Fund within the scope of the Trade Facilitation in Middle Income Countries Programme.

The Compendium, which showcases examples from 17 Member administrations, serves as a valuable and timely publication to help guide Members’ efforts in this domain. Going forward, the Compendium will form part of the ongoing work to collect additional practices on advancing gender equality and diversity, both internally within Customs and also in relation to Customs’ engagement with stakeholders.

As a matter of fact, over recent years WCO Members have stepped up their efforts to promote gender equality and diversity in Customs. Furthermore, the WCO has expanded the scope of its work to include broader diversity and inclusiveness issues.

In 2017, the Virtual Working Group for Gender Equality and Diversity was launched to provide a platform for Members to exchange experiences and good practices, as well as to raise awareness of the Gender Equality Organizational Assessment Tool (GEOAT). Following on from this, a blended training package entitled “Advancing Gender Equality in Customs” was developed and comprises a one-week workshop and an e-learning module.

The WCO takes the opportunity of this celebration to reaffirm its strong commitment to keep on promoting and supporting the advancement of gender equality and diversity in Customs, and to continue working closely with its international partners to move this agenda forward.