Women in Customs administrations across the Pacific are proving that they can lead at all levels of their agencies.

Working in roles including trade facilitation, shipping inspections, tax compliance, transnational crime investigations and maritime surveillance, women are actively performing as decision makers, change agents, future planners and strategic leaders.

Thanks to a joint initiative between the Oceania Customs Organisation (OCO), the Australian Border Force (ABF) and RMIT University, 45 women from 14 Pacific countries graduated from the third phase of the Pacific Women’s Professional Development Program (PWPDP) today. 

Focused on strategic leadership, this cohort of graduates are ready to mobilise positive changes to ensure the safety and security of international trade.

‘Why is this important?  Take a look around your home or office, and you’ll find you’re surrounded by products that have their origins overseas.  To ensure future border security, our Customs agencies require women and men who can strategically manage the safety of our international supply chain,’ said Talaitupu Lia Taefu, Chief Executive Officer for the Samoa Ministry of Customs and Revenue.

‘Previously we thought that strategic leadership belonged to the executive level in our agencies.  But now we’re confident to apply strategic leadership within our own teams, units and departments to accomplish positive border protection outcomes’, said Chief Customs Officer Claudette Whippy from Fiji Revenue and Customs Service.

Nancy Oraka, OCO Head of Secretariat, recognises, ‘Effective Customs administrations not only provide opportunities for women to participate in the frontline of border control, but also empower women to engage in strategic planning to prepare for the future risks and opportunities in our Pacific region.’

Speaking at the graduation ceremony, ABF Assistant Commissioner Sharon Huey emphasised, ‘The ABF is committed to work alongside the OCO and our Pacific partners to empower women to realise their full potential in Customs agencies.  We know border protection is enhanced when women and men play an equal role in strategic leadership.’

‘When I started in Customs 13 years ago, women were under-represented. But times have changed.      Today, we feel confident to operate as leaders. Our ideas are respected.  Our decisions matter. Most importantly, this means our communities are safer,’ said Elizabeth Tetauru from Cook Islands Customs.

Thinking of a career in Customs?  Please reach out to your national Customs administration of contact the Oceania Customs Organisation at:  MediaOCO@ocosec.org

 Elizabeth Tetauru has served 13 years in Cook Islands Customs and recognises that women are literally ‘moving the world’ through their Customs’ service.

Women are making positive advances in ensuring the safety and security of international trade.

44 emerging women Customs leaders graduated from the Pacific Women’s Professional Development Program in February.

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