• English

11/20/19

UNECE advances cooperation on standards for quality infrastructure and gender equality

Quality infrastructure, while often taken for granted, is the foundation of our modern life. It is a complex system of norms, regulations, and institutions that are designed to ensure that when we buy something – as businesses or consumers – we get exactly what we expect. Without it, we would not be able to use our credit cards, make a phone call, or slide a sheet of paper through a photocopy machine.

Formally, quality infrastructure is defined as “The system comprising the organizations (public and private) together with the policies, relevant legal and regulatory framework, and practices needed to support and enhance the quality, safety and environmental soundness of goods, services and processes”.

Past estimates by OECD demonstrate that standards and related conformity assessment have an impact on 80 per cent of the world’s trade in commodities. Quality infrastructure is also a key enabler for realizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – it is essential to protect the planet, ensure dignified lives for all people and achieve inclusive economic growth and prosperity.

The UNECE Working Party on Regulatory Cooperation and Standardization Policies (WP.6) meets from 20th to 22nd November to advance practical initiatives aimed at raising awareness about quality infrastructure and building the capacity of policymakers to use it strategically, including:

  • A portal comprising more than 1000 standards – developed by UNECE and other organizations - and allowing users to identify which ones can be used to implement specific goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda;
  • A network of academic institutions and Universities – including the Berlin University of Technology, the Rotterdam school of management, the Russian Academy of Standardization – that teach undergraduate and graduate students how they can be part of the process of  making and applying standards and why that matters;
  • The Gender Responsive Standards Declaration spearheaded by UNECE and signed by more than 60 international, regional and national standards bodies, committed to advancing gender equality and the realization of SDG 5.

A new publication on “Gender Responsive Standards”, being launched today, provides a large body of evidence to substantiate the work of this expert group. It emphasizes that without focused and concerted action, standards involuntarily replicate and amplify the bias against women that pervades the world of work.

It provides series of recommendations for standards bodies, for policymakers and businesses that seek to make the standards they develop and use responsive to the needs of all genders and to ensure that the standards development process they participate in is fully inclusive.

This is accompanied by a video on the Declaration, bringing together the voices of standards leaders, international organizations, NGOs and academia to celebrate standards as tools for women’s empowerment.