Gender Responsive Standards Initiative

The meeting was attended by representatives of the following organizations: the British Standards Institution (BSI), the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD), the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), the International Gender Champions, the International Organisation for Standardization (ISO), European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC), Swedish Standards Institute, Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB), African Regional Standardization Organization (ARSO), ISEAL Alliance, ASTM International, European Commission, the European Association for the Co-ordination of Consumer Representation in Standardisation (ANEC), Energy New Zealand, CQ Australia University and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).

They represented a diverse group of stakeholders and a large pool of expertise. While introducing themselves, the participants outlined how their organizations’ work is related to the meeting. They also expressed their strong support for the initiative.

The discussion focused on the developments and possible adoption of the Declaration on Gender Responsive Standards. The Secretary of the Working Party recapped on the processes and discussions that had been held prior to the finalization of the declaration as well as the dialogues held within the standardization community. Then she welcomed comments from the participants about the draft declaration.  

The representative of BSI explained that the aim of the declaration is to assist national standards bodies and standards developing organizations (NSBs and SDOs) in identifying actions they can take to support the creation of gender responsive standards. She added that the declaration is a result of two years of consultation hence, it had reached its signing phase. She then sought for ideas from the participants on how to present the declaration to the standardization community for signing. Insights on how standardization bodies were planning to implement the declaration were also welcomed.

She further added that, BSI was committed to signing the declaration once it was opened for signing as it would complement the BSI Gender Action Plan and other commitments of increasing diversity and inclusion within their area of activities.

The representative from ASTM International also acknowledged that her organization was committed to signing the declaration. Aside from this, they are also reviewing their committee services database to combine gender inclusivity practices established by their Gender Professional Programme. The declaration will also be mentioned and endorsed in the 2019 message to their committees.

The representative from IEC said that the Declaration would be tabled at the upcoming meeting of the Standardization Management Board in February 2019. Additionally, the declaration would also complement many of the ongoing gender equality initiatives within IEC. For example; their Young Professionals Programme which encourages the participation of women.

The representative from ISO commended the work done on the declaration and that it would be tabled at the ISO Council scheduled for February 2019 for review and consideration. She added that the declaration would be of great value as it would complement other ongoing activities and was supported by the ISO Secretary General becoming an International Gender Champion in 2018.

The representative from ARSO also committed to presenting the declaration to his organization for signing. The declaration would complement initiatives of involving African women in standardization as well as the African Union commitments to gender parity and women empowerment.

The representative from CENELEC also acknowledged the efforts on the declaration and would present it within her organization for signing. She also pleaded for the need to cooperate and work together to convince standardization bodies why it is important to sign the declaration.

It was also noted by the participants that the declaration does not only advocate for participation of women but also calls for the need to change institutional practices that involve the content and impact of standards. It was further suggested that, it would be essential to advocate for the involvement of both male and female representatives in gender initiatives within the standardization community. A representative from CQ University

Australia suggested that trainings and workshops would be influential in implementing the declaration.

As a point of reference and complement to the previous suggestions, the WTO Joint Declaration on Trade and Women’s Economic Empowerment was mentioned by the representative of the International Gender Champions. She added that, sharing of knowledge and best practices are key for implementing the declaration. Therefore, stakeholders should convene through workshops and trainings.