A Strategy for Gender Responsive Standards

There is a growing recognition that standards are not neutral, but in fact can be experienced differently depending on someone’s gender.

This prompted PASC member, the Standards Council of Canada (SCC), to act so that women and men benefit equally from standardisation.

As part of these efforts, SCC released a report called When One Size Does Not Protect All: Understanding Why Gender Matters for Standardization.

The report includes a cross-country analysis, using data from 106 countries, to determine the impact of gender on standardisation.

The report found that countries which are more involved in standardisation experience fewer unintentional male deaths. It also found that when a country’s participation in standardisation increases, the number of unintentional male deaths decreases. However, when the analysis was repeated to determine the impact of standardisation on unintentional female deaths, it was found that there was no impact.  In other words, standards are not equally protecting men and women.

This report falls under SCC’s Gender and Standardization Strategy which includes activities focused on three key objectives:

  • Increasing the participation of women on technical committees;
  • Building gender expertise into the standards development process; and
  • Conducting sound research into the impact of gender on standardisation.

This initiative comes soon after the signing of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe’s Declaration for Gender Responsive-Standards in May 2019. More than 50 standardisation bodies from around the world, including nine PASC members, pledged to take a leadership role in advancing gender inclusivity and equality in standardisation.

Such action has the potential for far-reaching impact as standards touch virtually every aspect of life. Since standards reflect the perspective of those who participate in their development, making sure women’s viewpoints are included is well advised to help ensure that fundamental issues do not go unnoticed.

The case of crash test dummies illustrates what can happen when we presume gender-neutrality and when women’s experiences are missing in the standardisation process.

Despite seeing an overall decline in motor vehicle trauma over the past decades, researchers from the University of Virginia’s Centre for Applied Biomechanics found and recently confirmed that an important safety disparity persists; women in the driver’s seat are significantly more likely than men to sustain severe trauma.

This conclusion is partly explained by the fact that until recently, carrying out testing in the driver’s seat was done on the assumption that it was sufficient to use a standard test dummy – one that was designed to reflect the average male body.

With this study as a cautionary tale, changes are needed if women and men are to benefit equally from standardisation.

GOST R celebrates 95th anniversary and World Standards Day with ‘Protecting the planet with standards’ forum

World Standards Day is celebrated each year on 14 October, and this year Russia’s National Standards Body (GOST R) had more reason to celebrate as the day coincided with its 95th anniversary.

To mark the occasion GOST R hosted a virtual and in-person forum in St. Petersburg, which ran across Wednesday 14 and Thursday 15 October.  The forum’s main event was a panel that reflected this year’s World Standards Day theme: Protecting the planet with standards.

GOST R’s Vice CEO Anton Shalaev moderated the panel which featured several speakers from PASC (Russia, Canada, Singapore and Australia). The full list of panelists included:

  • Sergio Mujica, ISO Secretary-General
  • Philip Metzger, IEC General Secretary and CEO
  • Chantal Guay, SCC CEO and PASC EC Chair
  • Christoph Winterhalter, DIN Executive Board Chairman and CEN Administrative Board Policy Vice-President
  • Saw Kook Choy, Enterprise Singapore Director General (Quality and Excellence)
  • Adrian O’Connell, Standards Australia CEO
  • Boris Alyoshin, Academician of Russian Academy of Science and former ISO President
  • Alexey Abramov, GOST R Director
  • Nilse Andreas Masvie, DNV GL Oil & Gas Vice President Eurasia

Mr. Shalaev asked the panelists several questions; what are the lessons learned in 2020 on how standards can protect the planet on the international, regional, national, and industry-specific levels; has the current state of standardization proved to be ready for challenges; is it ready to protect the planet with standards in response to future challenges; and what are these future challenges?

Mr. Sergio Mujica pointed out that despite the limitations that come with having online forums it does enable more experts to participate which is extremely important for developing countries.

Mr. Philip Metzger highlighted important guidelines around cooperation, broad association, virtualization, and national and international support for the work of IEC under new circumstances.

“We have seen in the case of ISO and IEC how rapidly organizations are able to transform their work mode while increasing their efficiency,” Mr. Shalaev said.

Dr. Boris Aloysinh said one of the most important ways to support economies is by sharing and applying standards to protect the environment.

“No matter which country we live in we should unite our efforts on numerous and various issues. The more standard decisions we make the easier we will effect economies with different levels of development.”

The significant role of IT technology standards has turned out to be one of the most tangible this year.

According to Mr. Christoph Winterhalter, governments, businesses, and society should trust new technologies that have high potential for replication.  He said it is the mission of standards to create conditions for confidence and to instruct people on how to apply new technologies.

Mr. Adrian O’Connell pointed to the great potential of standardization in the fast-changing social, technological, and business environment.

Ms. Chantal Guay brought attention to concerns about climate change. She said climate change would be more serious than the pandemic if certain measures aren’t undertaken.

The forum hosted 16 sessions and roundtable discussions. Presentations and photos from the forum are available here.

PASC members in the frontline of efforts against COVID-19

Like many other organisations around the world, Pacific Area Standards Congress (PASC) activities have been curtailed by the COVID-19 pandemic. While all members were looking forward to the Annual General Meeting (AGM) and workshops to be held in Vladivostok, Russia, this year, the decision has been made to postpone the event to May 2021.

At the most recent PASC Executive Committee (EC) meeting, held online, Mr Anton Shalaev, from the Russian standards organisation, GOST R, pointed out that the number of registered cases of COVID-19 were increasing in his country. It was therefore unlikely that his organisation would be able to hold a face-to-face AGM and workshops. As PASC unites countries from across many time zones, it would also be difficult to hold a full-length, two-day meeting virtually.

After discussion, the EC agreed that GOST R would host the PASC AGM in 2021. Fiji – who were intending to host the 2021 event – would submit a proposal for the 2022 AGM to be held in their country instead. Important agenda items – including the PASC Strategic Plan 2021-2025 and ISO/IEC elections – would be addressed in a virtual meeting of members in coming months.

While COVID-19 has affected PASC directly as a regional standards organisation, the coronavirus has impacted individual member countries significantly too. Given the health, economic and societal impacts of the pandemic, standards organisations have played a leading role in their countries to help combat the virus.

Standards bodies support local government and business in fighting COVID-19

Federal Agency on Technical Regulating and Metrology (GOST R)

The Russian national standardization body, GOST R, took several measures from March 2020 to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 in the Russian Federation:

  • GOST R provided free access to 52 national (GOST R), regional (GOST), and international (ISO and IEC) standards in the field of medical devices and protective equipment.
  • Face-to-face meetings of all national technical committees were halted. However, digital tools meant virtual meetings and standards ballots were able to continue. This resulted in the number of national standards published from March to July 2020 more than doubling compared with the same period in 2018 and 2019.
  • To increase the importation of medical devices GOST R – working closely with the authority in charge of medical devices – prepared test programs based on ISO and IEC standards that do not have national adoptions.
  • To increase the volume of protective equipment manufactured in Russia, GOST R – together with the Ministry of Industry and Trade – asked Russian manufacturers of protective equipment who were willing to provide access to their company standards for others who wanted to start PPE production. More than ten have already agreed to this information sharing.

National Institute of Quality – Peru (INACAL)

Due to the effects of COVID-19 on the Peruvian economy, INACAL, their standards body, instituted guidelines to fast track the development and approval of pandemic-related standards. They created a national technical committee to focus on the emergency, together with relevant sub-committees, which all met virtually on digital platforms.

INACAL provided free access to stakeholders and the public using two virtual platforms:

  • Free standards, which focused on standards to mitigate the impact of COVID-19
  • A virtual reading room, which provides access to all national standards (no international adoptions were included) for a one-off three-day period

Additionally, the Peruvian standards body arranged open virtual meetings periodically to promote standards and their implementation.

National Standardization Agency of Indonesia (BSN)

BSN conducted standardisation-related activities to support the Indonesian government in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. This included providing:

  • Guidelines/ health protocols related to COVID-19
  • Increased public awareness about COVID-19 through social media
  • Full access to Indonesian National Standards (SNI) available in read only and flipbook format. These included standards related to masks, medical gloves, ventilators, hospital laundry, electro-medical equipment, laboratory management systems and medical devices, glasses, hand and floor sanitisers and medical device sterilisation, amongst others.
  • Free access to ISO standards related to COVID-19.

BSN also conducted webinars related to measuring COVID-19 from a standardisation perspective, such as testing methods, online transactions, smart cities, food safety, risk management and business continuity management.

National Standards Strategy for the United States (ANSI)

To support the critical efforts of many groups engaged in the combat against COVID-19 – including manufacturers, government agencies, national laboratories, research institutions, and universities – ANSI launched a portal providing free, read-only access to key ISO and IEC standards.

A total of 37 critical standards are currently included, covering: medical equipment and devices; protective clothing used in health care settings; and business continuity management, security, and resilience. The ANSI COVID-19 resources page highlights the U.S. standardization community’s wide-ranging activities supporting public health, safety, and infrastructure during the pandemic.

Singapore Standards Council (SSC, ESG)

SSC developed a tailored Business Continuity Plan (BCP) for COVID-19, to help Small and Medium Enterprises implement their business continuity plans in line with the latest health advisories. The BCP guide was adapted from the ISO Standard on Business continuity management systems, which can be applied to all sectors and all company sizes. SSC worked with partners and associations to promote the guide through webinars and outreach engagement.

SSC also developed standards to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, such as guidelines on e-commerce transactions to support the growing digital market, and the revised standard on mass temperature measurement using thermal imagers, which was expanded to include usage in public areas and buildings, like shopping malls. SSC is keen to work with other PASC members to explore new areas of standardisation to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

Standardization Administration of the People’s Republic of China (SAC)

SAC also played a leading role in its country’s efforts to combat COVID-19. It worked closely with other Chinese government departments to promote technical standards to help prevent and control the pandemic, facilitate the import and export of preventative products and assist in the global fight against COVD-19.

SAC did this by increasing the supply of relevant standards and providing the following:

  • Technical support for epidemic prevention efforts
  • Information about Chinese and foreign standards related to epidemic prevention products
  • Standards information and technical assistance to facilitate the import and export of epidemicprevention products.

This information was shared on the SAC and ISO websites. Additionally, they provided epidemic prevention product standards to help manufacturers resume production and set up standardisation technical service platforms.

Standards Australia

Standards Australia worked closely with its Quality Infrastructure partners to develop a directory to further assist the design, manufacture and procurement of medical Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). This directory provides information on potentially relevant standards, corresponding test methods and accredited Australian laboratories and certifiers, as well as other valuable information. This work helped support manufacturers who pivoted from their traditional product lines to help meet domestic shortfalls of essential products.

Standards Council of Canada

Together with their standardization partners, SCC has compiled a list of relevant standards for medical devices, business continuity, and crisis management, with links to the appropriate Standards Development Organization for acquisition. Additionally, they have listed testing labs for personal protective equipment. This list should be considered a starting point, and consultation with the appropriate regulator is essential. More information can be found on the SCC COVID-19 webpage.

Standards New Zealand

This focus on innovation was also pursued in Standards New Zealand’s COVID-19 strategy. The country saw companies switch from making their traditional products to producing those which could help bridge gaps in the local availability of essential items.

For example, boutique distilleries switched from producing vodka and gin to hand sanitiser, and 3D printers were deployed to manufacture medical face masks. Standards NZ promoted that if companies were providing or accessing services, or designing, producing or buying products related to the COVID-19 pandemic, they should consult standards. The message that standards are a tried and tested way of improving quality and safety, enhancing products and services, and meeting industry best practice resonated well.

Part of the promotion of standards in New Zealand included highlighting a number of relevant ISO and IEC standards and their national adoptions that were made available for free to support global efforts against COVID-19.

Thai Industrial Standards Institute (TISI)

Thai Industrial Standards Institute (TISI) developed 27 new standards and adopted a number of international standards to support the efforts against COVID-19 pandemic. These standards relate to medical and protective equipment such as cloth masks, face shields, hand sanitizer, goggles for medical use, nitrile examination gloves, negative pressure cabinets, UVC sterilizers and lung ventilators for medical use.

TISI also provides e-License, e-Surveillance and remote assessment, as well as fee waivers for standard services. This is to support entrepreneurs affected by the suspension of conformity assessment, accreditation and market surveillance activities in response to social distancing and domestic lockdown measures.

The above are several examples of how the PASC community has rallied against COVID-19 and demonstrated the key role that standards are playing in the fight against the coronavirus. Standards continue to demonstrate their relevance as PASC member countries strive to keep their citizens safe and help them adjust to the new way that people live and work.

ASEAN-Australia Digital Trade Standards Workshops come to a close

The final of three ASEAN-Australia Digital Trade Standards Initiative workshops was concluded in Jakarta this week.

As a continuation of the ASEAN-Australia Digital Trade Standards Initiative launched in March 2018, the objective of these workshops is to support digital trade standards and promote effective standardisation practices across ASEAN Member States.

With attendees from National Standards Bodies (NSBs), government and industry, the workshops explored digital trade themes such as digital transformation, e-commerce, artificial intelligence, blockchain, cyber security, and more. For NSB staff the workshops also went in-depth into topics like effective stakeholder engagement, facilitation of committee meetings, and other principles of good standardisation practice.

The initiative is being led by Standards Australia but includes collaboration and support from ISO, IEC and other international partners. ASEAN Member States were also supported to attend the PASC Annual General Meeting in Wellington, New Zealand in April 2019 and the ISO Workshop: Disruptive technologies and new service models: the role of International Standards in Singapore in June 2019.

To maintain the momentum on this initiative a subsequent phase is currently being finalised for 2020.

Disruptive technologies and new service models: the role of International Standards

Services constitute the largest sector in the global economy today, accounting for 70 % of global GDP, 60 % of global employment and 46 % of global exports measured in value-added terms.

But this sector is not just growing, it is evolving – rapid advances in technology are leading to significant changes in service business models and service provision methods. Faced with these potentially disruptive changes, International Standards offer businesses, governments and consumers tools to create trust, ensure the quality and safety of services, and facilitate their provision across borders.

ISO is hosting a workshop which will focus on how International Standards for services can enable new technologies and business models in the services sector, concentrating on areas such as artificial intelligence and Big Data, e-commerce, cybersecurity, and blockchain. Standardizers, policymakers and industry representatives will come together to discuss the benefits of standards, how they can be effectively implemented, and potential new areas of standardization in the services sector.

NOTE : This event is taking place back-to-back with Seamless Asia exhibition, conference and summit, being held at Suntec City on 26-27 June, which expects 6 000 attendees from banks, retail, e-commerce, government, enterprise and technology. Workshop participants may also wish to attend Seamless Asia – see the website for further details.

Program Finalized: Standards and Regulatory Stewardship Workshop

The Standards and Regulatory Stewardship Workshop is co-organized by the Pacific Area Standards Congress (PASC) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). It is taking place as part of the PASC Annual General Meeting, held in Wellington, New Zealand from 8-11 April 2019.

The final program for the workshop is now available for all attendees and interested parties.

The aim of this workshop is to bring together standards bodies, regulators and other stakeholders, to discuss how standards can be used to support good regulatory policy and practice, in general, and regulatory stewardship, in particular.

Dr Bronwyn Evans finishes her term as Chief Executive Officer of Standards Australia

Dr Bronwyn Evans, who was Standards Australia’s Chief Executive Officer since 2013, left Standards Australia on Friday March 8, 2019.

Mr Richard Brooks, Chairman of the Standards Australia Board thanked Dr Evans for her significant contributions during her time as Chief Executive.

“Bronwyn has been CEO through an exciting time of transformation for Standards Australia. We have benefited greatly from Bronwyn’s leadership of the team. 

“As we reflected on what has been achieved in recent years, and what lies ahead through 2019 and beyond we are pleased to be able to say that she is leaving a legacy of substance, and excellent executive and senior leadership teams in place.”

Dr Evans thanked the Board for its support through her tenure. 

In speaking to staff, Dr Evans recounted the value of the work being done by Standards Australia both nationally and internationally and its impact on the quality of Australian life.

“It has been a great privilege to lead this wonderful organisation – the Executive, Senior Leadership team and staff at every level are outstanding and all passionately committed to Standards Australia. I am proud of what we have achieved in so many aspects of our work. Standards Australia is in a great position with so much opportunity, goodwill and ambitions for the next phase of growth. I look forward to seeing Standards Australia move from strength to strength.”

Dr Evans will be continuing with a number of roles including as a Director of the Australia Japan Foundation and as a Director of the Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre.  Dr Evans has also resigned as the ISO Vice President of Finance and IEC Australian National Committee Secretary.

Deputy CEO Adrian O’Connell commenced as Acting Chief Executive Officer from 4 March 2019 and will remain Acting CEO until the appointment of a new Chief Executive.

Enabling digital trade – recommendations report released

Realising the potential of digital trade across Australia and the South East Asia region is the focus of a Recommendations Report released today by Standards Australia.

The report is part of the ASEAN – Australia Digital Trade Standards Cooperation Initiative.

The ten key recommendations in the report focus on utilising International Standards as a means to increase economic integration and digital trade in the ASEAN-Australia region.

The recommendations were developed and endorsed by stakeholders from the public and private sectors of ASEAN and Australia, in a two-day Workshop held in October 2018. Collectively, these recommendations will address the complex issues and barriers to digital trade which were identified by stakeholders across the region.

“Through close collaboration with ASEAN, there is now a much better understanding of the challenges in the region and how standards can help provide a solution,” said Dr Bronwyn Evans, CEO of Standards Australia.

“The Recommendations Report maps out mechanisms for increasing the awareness, participation, adoption and use of international standards to ultimately support digital trade in all eleven of the countries involved.”

The Recommendations Report has been presented to the Australian Government and the Governments of ASEAN nations, for their consideration in progressing a second phase of the ASEAN-Australia Digital Trade Standards Cooperation Initiative.

Registration for PASC AGM 42 Now Open

PASC secretariat is pleased to advise that the registration for the upcoming 42nd PASC AGM and Workshop to be held between 8 – 11 April 2019 is now open. To register, please visit the PASC 42 event website at http://pasc2019.co.nz/. Please do also note that the unique code for registration for the PASC EC meeting is PASC19.

As the PASC 42 AGM will be held in the month of April next year, your early registration would be greatly appreciated.

Should you have any enquiries on the event registration, please feel free to contact PASC Secretariat or PASC AGM host/SNZ’s contact, Ms Carmen Mak at Carmen.Mak@mbie.govt.nz.