The opening ceremony for the Declaration on Gender Responsive Standards and Standards Development took place today, 14 May 2019, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.
The IEC is one of the signatories. IEC General Secretary and CEO Frans Vreeswijk, who couldn’t attend today’s ceremony, signed the declaration in advance and sent a video message.
SDG 5: promoting gender equality
Gender inequalities are still deep-rooted in society but actions are undertaken throughout the world to reduce and ultimately eliminate discrimination against women and girls. As part of its Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs), the United Nations has put forward SDG 5 which aims to achieve gender equality and empower women and girls by 2030.
In the field of standardization, still very much a man’s world, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) initiated the Gender Responsive Standards initiative in response to a mandate by the Working Party on Regulatory Cooperation and Standardization Policies (WP.6).
The Gender Responsive Standards initiative drafted the Declaration for Gender Responsive Standards and Standards Development, which invites all standards bodies to pledge to make the standards they develop and the standards development process they use gender responsive by:
- signing the Gender Responsive Standards and Standards Development Declaration
- creating and proactively implementing a gender action plan for their organization and
- tracking progress, collecting and sharing data, success stories and good practices
By signing the declaration, standards bodies demonstrate their commitment to gender equality and enhancing the contribution of voluntary standards to the achievement of the 2030 agenda on sustainable development.
In his video address, Vreeswijk said: “I believe gender diversity in standardization is important because different perspectives make technology solutions more relevant to all of society. I am delighted to sign the declaration on gender responsive standards and call on engineers and scientists everywhere to encourage more girls and women to choose professions in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”
Strong commitment from the IEC
In 2016, Vreeswijk accepted for the IEC to participate in the International Gender Champions initiative. The initiative is an international network of senior leaders working to advance gender equality in the executive management of their institutions and their programmatic work, through concrete and measurable commitments. In this context, Vreeswijk’s role is to motivate IEC Members to encourage the participation of more qualified women experts in IEC technical work and encourage technical committees to consider a gender-balanced approach in all relevant IEC International Standards and send more women to the Young Professionals programme.