WCO - World Customs Organization

07/10/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 07/10/2024 04:01

Gender equality in West Africa: a sub-regional workshop brings together six countries in the region

From 1 to 5 July 2024, the WCO organised an advanced workshop on gender equality and diversity (GED) in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, for a group of six Customs administrations from West Africa - Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Mali, Niger and Togo.

The workshop was organised as part of the West Africa Security Project (WASP) - Gender Equality Component, a partnership between the WCO and the German Central Customs Authority, funded by the German Federal Foreign Office. Thanks to effective collaboration, the workshop was jointly funded with the WCO Anti-Corruption & Integrity Promotion (A-CIP) Programme, which, thanks to funding from Norway, enabled three of these countries (Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger) to take part. The workshop was led by two experts from the WCO pool of Recognised Experts in Gender Equality and Diversity (EGD) from Morrocco and Canada.

Over the week, participants had the opportunity to improve their knowledge of the concepts of gender and inclusion. They were able to study how these concepts can be implemented across Customs administrations using the Gender Equality Organisational Assessment Tool (GEOAT). Participants also carried out exercises using a new GEOAT assessment model, which enables Customs administrations to do their organisational self-assessment, identifying their strengths and weaknesses and preparing administrations to draft or update action plans dedicated to GED.

The workshop focused intensely on the links between gender and security. Among the issues addressed were the differences in how women and men experience conflict, insecurity, and threats and how these differences can be taken into account in security policies. The benefits of having more women in security-related positions were also discussed, including how this could be encouraged through a better consideration of work-life balance aspects, and infrastructural improvements.

Participants also had the opportunity to discuss examples of human rights violations at the border, how these could be prevented and how gender stereotypes could impact enforcement operations.
Emphasis was also laid on the links between GED and the fight against corruption. In particular, participants examined the issue of whistleblowing and how this process can be made more gender-sensitive, as well as the usefulness of data collection and analysis in implementing measures to protect everyone, both within Customs and among private sector partners.

Following the exercises during the week, some of the six Customs delegations presented updated versions of their GED action plans while others began developing their action plans. Each administration will continue to implement the tool over the coming months.

The WCO looks forward to continuing to work closely with its Members to advance the GED agenda forward. For more information on this activity and the WCO's work in this area, please contact [email protected].