The Secretary General of World Customs Organisation (WCO) Dr. Kunio Mikuriya has advocated for a responsive gender equality policy in place that reflects the dynamic and innovative role played by women in customs across the globe.
Mikuriya stated this in his message to mark the 2019 International Women’s Day on March 8.
According to him, “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 stated that it would continue 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.