The Oceania Customs Organisation (OCO) successfully organised a Regional Workshop on Change Management and Gender Equality in Nadi, Fiji from the 2-6 December 2019. The workshop was attended by 23 senior management staff (11 female/12 male) from 14 OCO member countries and funded under the PACER Plus Readiness Package.

The workshop was opened by the OCO Head of Secretariat, Mr Richard Brennan who spoke about the blending of change management concepts to better prepare the members in the current and emerging impacts that Customs administrations in the Pacific will face over the next few years. He also spoke on how to move respective administrations forward to meet the national and regional issues that are forced on global realities in trade and its ever changing face against the backdrop of regional security that is becoming a focal issue.

The five-day workshop adopted a mixed training methodology such as presentation, group and plenary discussion. The participants were apprised of change management concepts and how customs could adopt a holistic approach to preparing for change and implementing change at their respective administrations. The participants also discussed organisational and performance measurement as a contributory tool for successful and to assist with decisions making using data. UNCTAD made a presentation on ASYCUDA World capability to present data on performance indicators.

One of the important part of the Workshop was the introduction of the topic of gender equality in customs administration given that historically the majority of customs administrations in the Pacific have always been a male dominated sector. The OCO members recognise that promoting gender within Customs is not only a question of fundamental rights but also the introduction of inclusive policies and processes which is important to achieving customs reforms and adapting to the ever increasing challenges that globalization bring. The participants received presentations from a number of OCO partner organisation on the gender issues; Australian Border Force (ABF), Pacific Community (SPC), Pacific Islands Chiefs of Police (PICP) Secretariat, World Customs Organisation (WCO)World Bank Group (WBG).

SPC facilitated the introduction to gender mainstreaming session and provided an overview of the gender issues in Pacific and the technical support provided to the SPC members to strengthen their capacities on gender mainstreaming.

The WBG presented on their focus work on gender, gender specific barriers to trade and trade facilitation and gender in the Pacific. The WBG presentation also included the different barriers that hinder women from trade including lack of understanding and access to information, cumbersome procedures and inconsistency in tariffs and practices of regulation, limited representation industry/trade associations to name a few.

The participants also received a video presentation from the WCO highlighting the work that WCO was undertaking to promote gender equality included the Gender Equality Organizational Assessment Tool (GEOAT), blended training package “Advancing Gender Equality in Customs” on the CLiKC! Platform and the work of the WCO Virtual Working Group for Gender Equality and Diversity.

Strengthening its partnership with the PICP Secretariat, the participants received a presentation on the PICP Women’s Advisory Network (WAN) and its work to support and enhance the contributions of women in policing within the Pacific region.

The ABF presented on implementation of gender equality by creating a supportive and enabling culture that increases the balance in their workforce. The presentation provide participants with the knowledge on how to implement gender equality in Customs recognizing diversity in the workplace.

The OCO Secretariat and participants have committed to further promoting gender and equality at the national level having made a number of recommendations accordingly. Furthermore as a region, in coordination with OCO and relevant partners, participants have agreed to use the International Women’s Day in March 2020 to organize activities and raise awareness of gender equality in customs across all of the OCO members.

At the conclusion of the workshop, the delegates have sound understanding of concepts of change management, knowledge on how they can effectively monitor and evaluate their results and understand how to improve and further advance gender equality and diversity. The Workshop also provided an opportunity for the participants to undertake a review of the OCO Strategic Plan priorities taking into account national and sub-regional needs and the results will be used to enhance the OCO work program delivery ensuring alignment to member’s priorities.

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