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UNECE leading the way on gender inclusive standards development

UNECE leading the way on gender inclusive standards development

Women in Leadership

The challenge of reaching gender equality has been at the forefront of the agenda of many organizations and Governments for years.  But as UN Women recalls in their report on gender equality and COVID-19, the impacts of crises are never gender-neutral” and the Covid-19 pandemic risks reverting decades of progress in women empowerment. According to new data from UNDP, because of the pandemic  47 million more women are on the brink of extreme poverty.

To ensure the achievement of SDG 5 – and mitigate against a rolling back in women’s empowerment – UNECE is focusing on gender equality and women’s economic wellbeing across its workstreams, with the enthusiastic leadership of its working parties taking decisive action on the issue. The Working Party on Regulatory Cooperation and Standardization Policies (WP. 6) developed recommendations across a range of topics, from market surveillance and education, to foster gender-responsive standards and risk management.

The Gender-Responsive Standards Initiative is fostering dialogue and promoting equal representation across the standard-developing process, collaborating with various standards organizations, NGOs, experts on gender issues and women’s empowerment, policymakers, academia, and other UN bodies. In May 2019, the Declaration for Gender Responsive Standards and Standards Development was opened for signature, with all-round support from over 60 member States and a dozen international and regional standards developing organizations.

Declaration signatories pledge to create and proactively implement a gender action plan for their organization, track and share progress and good practices, for a more gender-inclusive world.

At its thirty-first session on 24 November, WP.6 elected a woman Chair and two women Vice-Chairs, leading by example and making a concerted effort to ensure that standards affecting our lives in so many ways, have an integrated gender lens and reflect the values of inclusion and diversity. WP.6 works to dismantle the structural and institutional barriers preventing women from meaningful participation in the economy.

Spirits were high at this annual WP.6 meeting, held simultaneously in Geneva and online; it was the first time that WP.6 experts and delegations convened in-person since the onset of the pandemic, and a hundred participants joined from across the globe.

The prevailing theme was a call for collaboration and sharing of good practices on all fronts of the wide mandate of WP.6 – partnerships with government, international organizations, the private sector and the civil society, a fitting conclusion for these times.