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Gender Responsive Standards Declaration

Gender Responsive Standards Declaration signed

We are overjoyed that after 2 and a half years of conference calls, debate, and advocacy that the Gender-Responsive Standards Declaration was signed by 50+ international , regional and national standards making bodies on 14 May,

Following the Buenos Aires Declaration on Trade and Womens Economic Empowerment model joined by 120+ Member States and Observers at the World Trade Organization’s Ministerial Conference 11 in December 2017 in Buenos Aires, the Gender Responsive Standards Declaration, has a baseline pledge.

The Gender Responsive Standards Declaration baseline pledge states that each standards maker will do a gender action plan within the next 12 months. These action plans should deal with both the quantitative* and the qualitative**.

We are so proud to have been a driver of the coalition that worked so diligently to socialize the 21st century notion that standards have a gendered dimension, and need to be responsive to be relevant and inclusive.

Now the very hard work begins to translate the broad baseline of the pledge into strong work. Work that could have enormous transformative effects if it is focused on the standards themselves.

The quantitative* would include first counting the numbers of women who participate in standards setting. This number is woefully low, we believe it to be 10%. Women must actively participate in setting the norms for our world. Yet as crucial as adding numbers of women to standards setting is it only solves a particular representation piece of the puzzle. We cannot, and should not, expect female technical experts to be experts in, or be the essential advocates for, gender responsiveness.

The qualitative** aspect is, in our opinion, even more transformative aspect of this work. And it begins with the gender analysis of each standard as it is created, and as it comes up for rolling review. IRL farm tools have never been considered from a gender responsive angle. Farm tools for example were designed to maximize the upper body strength of a male body ( think ploughs) and not for the lower center of gravity and power of a female body. Protective equipment such as bulletproof vests to hazmat suits, thermostat default settings, medical trials, many/most things in the physical world include a gendered aspect. Even electrical current reacts differently to different biologies.

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