ICRIER Report suggests gender mainstreaming at ports for trade facilitation

In an effort to facilitate female participation in international trade, the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) released a report titled ‘Gender Mainstreaming at India’s Land Ports’, which presents an action plan to make land ports gender-responsive, outlining the necessary measures that can be taken in that direction.

It is evident that ports are vital for the trade activity of any nation with its neighboring countries. Lately, the government of India has taken multiple cross-functional measures to enhance the port infrastructure at the various major and minor ports of the country. However, in the era of gender diversity at the workplace, it is startling to see the extremely low levels of female participation at land borders, and thereby in the facilitation of regional trade.

The ICRIER report observes that very few women currently engage in trade-related activities at land ports, with male intermediaries handling procedures and processes on behalf of women traders and logistics operators. Additionally, a small percentage of the staff deployed by port management and operating agencies are women, contributing to a challenging environment due to infrastructure gaps, safety concerns, and socio-cultural barriers.

To address these gaps, the study proposes a “Model Review Checklist” as a benchmarking tool to measure the availability of gender-responsive infrastructure. The checklist covers 57 elements across six categories: information and access to the port, basic utilities, public facilities, safety setup, cargo handling, and digitization. The report emphasizes the importance of both the availability and quality of infrastructure at land ports.

Deepak Mishra (Director & Chief Executive of ICRIER) highlighted that gender is a cross-cutting theme in the institute’s research and expressed pride that the study was conducted by an all-women team of researchers as part of the gender and trade program.

During the report’s release event, Aditya Mishra (Chairman of the Land Ports Authority of India) expressed hope that gender mainstreaming initiatives at land ports would serve as a model for all ports in India. Mishra commended the study conducted by ICRIER and pledged to incorporate the recommendations, particularly regarding the digitization and mechanization of cargo processing.

Rama Mathew, Member of the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), stated that the report would be of great interest to the National Committee on Trade Facilitation (NCTF), specifically addressing Action Point #27 in the National Trade Facilitation Action Plan (NTFAP), which calls for the promotion of gender inclusiveness in trade.

The ICRIER study aligns with the emphasis on women-led development at the national level and in international forums like the G20. It aims to develop a comprehensive template for a gender lens assessment of both hard and soft infrastructure at land ports, contributing to a gender mainstreaming strategy in trade facilitation.

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