At the 52nd ISO DEVCO meeting, participants were roused by the words of guest speaker Christine Loew, Director of the UN Women Liaison Office, Geneva. Loew addressed a number of topics related to global inequality, and the role of women. Her speech drew attention to the fact that under-representation of women perpetuates further inequalities in wider society.
“When [women’s] lives are improved, the benefits reverberate across society,” says Loew. She cited the ways in which inequality pays compound interest, “women and girls bear the greatest burden of energy poverty – gathering fuel for an average of 18 hours per week”, with a knock-on effect of lower school attendance than their male counterparts.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t end there. With women generally doing the majority of the cooking, in conditions that are detrimental to their health, thousands die prematurely from respiratory illness. While praising standards such as cleaner-burning stoves, and pointing to ISO’s positive gender representation in some areas, Loew underlined that more could be done to involve female experts in the standards development process.