International Women´s Day Feature: UNFSS is organizing a webinar on gender, sustainability standards and certification systems for international trade.
19 February 2021
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DATE: 8 March 2021

TIME: 2pm - 3:45pm (CET)

As a 2021 International Women’s Day Feature, the United Nations Forum on Sustainability Standards (UNFSS) is organizing a webinar on gender and sustainability standards. The dialogue aims at raising global awareness about leveraging sustainability standards for gender equality and women´s empowerment as well as providing guidance on developing more attention to the impact of sustainability standards in meeting SDG 5.

Women account for 40% or more of the total labour force in many countries in 2019 and at least 33% of women make up the exporting workforce compared to 24% of non-exporting workforce in developing countries. International trade has in fact created better jobs for women – the probability of women being in the informal sector reduced from 20% in sectors with low levels of exports to 13% in sectors with high levels of exports, providing them with opportunities for benefits, training and job security.

However, in the credit market, women entrepreneurs in developing countries tend to self-select out of the credit market because of their low perceived creditworthiness such as low financial literacy, risk aversion and fear of failure. These women would not apply for loans or lines of credit because they were often discouraged by the societal perception that their application would automatically be denied.

Sustainability standards can generate gender-sensitive assurances in the operational procedures and norms established by companies to drive systemic changes for women in supply chains and improve their overall working conditions. According to the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), voluntary sustainability standards can potentially contribute to higher incomes for women in agriculture and women can also receive financial support provided through certification. This includes pre-financing or premiums that can contribute to women´s ability to access productive inputs and credit. When producer organizations support these measures, it can enhance women´s rights to productive agriculture resources.

This dialogue aims to:

  • raise global awareness on the issues most women entrepreneurs and exporters face with regards to sustainability standards. Even if they can see the benefits of complying to these standards, the issue they are often faced with are the lacking means of financial, capacity and institutional support
  • put forward policy recommendations at national level on ways to facilitate a better infrastructure that eases women entrepreneurs to certify their products
  • discuss differentiated impacts of standards compliance for women in international trade, and its best practices to foster gender equality and women empowerment


Register here



  • Santiago Fernandez de Cordoba, Senior Economist and UNFSS Coordinator, UNCTAD
  • Blessing Irabor, President, Organization for Women in International Trade (OWIT) Nigeria
  • Kathleen Sexsmith, Assistant Professor, Gender Expert, International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
  • Dr. Hermogene Nsengimana, Secretary General, African Organization for Standardization (ARSO)
  • Elisabeth Tuerk, Director, Economic Cooperation and Trade, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)
  • Noelia Garcia Nebra, Programme Manager, Gender Action, International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
  • Vidya Rangan, Senior Manager, Impacts and Evidence, ISEAL
  • Siti Rubiah Lambert, Sustainability Consultant, UNFSS Secretariat, UNCTAD
  • Camelia Mazard, President, Organization of Women in International Trade (OWIT) International Secretariat




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Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)