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Donors Roundtable on Gender Responsive Standards

Donors Roundtable on Gender Responsive Standards

Hosted by UNECE, UN Women, Germany and Canada

21 November 2022 15:00 - 16:30


Standards shape the products that surround us. They also help facilitate trade. It is important to ensure that all human beings are properly represented in the processes that develop the standards that affect them, especially women. And it is important to ensure that all stakeholders have a common, base understanding of standards and how they affect their lives.

On May 14th, 2019, over 50 standards organizations signed at the launch of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe’s (UNECE) Declaration for Gender Responsive Standards and Standards Development. The Declaration commits signatories to work towards ensuring that the standardization process and the standards produced are gender responsive. The members of the UNECE Working Party on Regulatory Cooperation and Standardization Policies (WP.6) acknowledge the pervasive and influential role of standards in society and recognizes that too often representation of women in standards development is below parity and that the outcomes for men and women are not explicitly addressed during the standards development process. This has led to women not being as well served by standards as men. The Declaration encourages standards development organizations (SDOs) of all types to create gender-responsive standards and achieve gender balance in their standards development processes.

Gender-responsive standards are standards which acknowledge the distinct needs of different genders and take concerted action to ensure the efficacy of the standard for all. A gender responsive standard is not a separate standard for different genders, but rather a means of ensuring the impact of the standard is appropriate and provides equal benefit. Gender equity and balanced representation in the process of standards development is crucial to better respond to the priorities of all genders, ensuring that they are gender responsive. Gender-responsive standards encompass both sex and gender. Whilst some erroneously use these terms interchangeably, understanding the distinction between the terms – sex being characteristics that are biologically defined and gender a social and cultural construct defining expectations for women and men – and the impact both can have on a standard is of critical importance

The UNECE WP.6 has been working on gender-responsive standards since 2016 and developed a series of guidance on the topic as well as launched a Team of Specialists on the topics with around eighty organizations engaged through a Declaration on Gender-Responsive Standards and Standards Development.

The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) works towards ensuring that internationally agreed standards are effectively implemented and truly benefit women and girls worldwide. Linking the work on gender-responsive standards to other gender-mainstreaming initiatives will allow beneficiary countries to reap the full benefit from this work.

UNECE implemented the first two phases of the project “Enhancing Usage and Uptake of Standards for Sustainable Development, Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Girls” with support from Germany. The aim was to enhance the usage and uptake of standards developed by ECE and other international, regional, and national standards bodies by policymakers as vital tools to support the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The project contributed to strengthening policymaker awareness and adoption of standards – developed by national, regional, and international standards bodies – as part of their strategies for the achievement of SDGs.

Activities undertaken as part of the project resulted in greater cooperation and mutual understanding between international standard development organizations (SDOs), regulatory authorities, administrations, and policymakers. The project firmly established gender equality as a critical component in effective standards development and drew great interest from the standards community, as evidenced by the signing of the Declaration for Gender-Responsive Standards and Standards Development by around eighty international, regional, and national standards bodies worldwide.  The gender equality commitments (e.g. creating a gender action plan) made by these SDOs will directly impact and increase the participation of women in the setting of standards and the representation of their interests in the standards themselves.


Hosted by UNECE, UN Women, Germany and Canada the Roundtable will aim to bring together donor partners to:

Generate awareness about Gender-Responsive Standards previous phase results and impact leveraging the voices of partners, to showcase learnings, achievements and share intended activities for this proposed programme.

• Provide a platform to identify opportunities for collaboration on gender responsive standards


Welcome address

15:00 - 15:10                         

UNECE                Elisabeth Tuerk, Director Economic Cooperation and Trade Division

15:10 - 15:20                    

UN Women          Jo-Anne Bishop, Deputy Regional Director Europe and Central Asia

Setting the Scene Presentation

15:20 - 15:35                    

UNECE                Lance Thompson, Secretary Working Party 6 - Phase I results

Voices of Partners

15:35 - 15:45

Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany,  Andrea Ulbrich

15:45 - 15:55                   

Standards Council of Canada (SCC), Michelle Parkouda

Transport Canada, Gabrielle White

15:55 - 16:30

Group Reflections: Opportunities for cooperation

Invited participants will be asked to reflect/share thoughts around the following questions:

  • Are gender responsive standards a priority in your work?
  • Have you ever previously or currently funding work on gender responsive standards or gender data?
  • Do you see any opportunities for collaboration with UNECE and UN Women?