Sunday 8 March is International Women’s Day. In the spirit of celebrating the next generation of women and girl leaders, the United Nations’ theme is “I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights”. It’s a call to action for everyone to push for complete gender equality. ISO is helping to advance the agenda with a number of gender action initiatives.
Launched in 2019, the ISO Gender Action Plan outlines five priority areas that focus on collecting data, creating a network to share best practice, and raising awareness of standards in support of gender equality and women’s empowerment.
As a Gender Champion, ISO Secretary-General Sergio Mujica explains: “We, at ISO, recognize that International Standards are essential tools toward reducing inequalities, creating greater sustainability and encouraging inclusive economic growth, all of which largely contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, including SDG 5 (Gender Equality).”
With gender equality and women’s empowerment being key to achieving all 17 Sustainable Development Goals, multiple efforts are underway within ISO to mobilize gender action initiatives. An International Workshop Agreement (IWA) on women-owned businesses will be held later this year. The IWA aims to increase accessibility for women business owners to public and private procurement opportunities, give access to capacity-building programmes and incentive schemes, and reduce certification costs for supplier diversity programmes. The IWA is being organized by SIS, the ISO member for Sweden, in collaboration with the International Trade Centre (ITC).
Society has come a long way since the first International Women’s Day over a hundred years ago. Yet, looking ahead, there are still barriers that need breaking. Applying a gender lens to standardization work means addressing specific needs for women and girls, which in turn will help to develop more gender-responsive and -inclusive standards for everyone. Ultimately, addressing gender responsibilities will lead to transformative change and a more equal world overall.
By Catherine Infante