UPU puts a spotlight on gender equality

In March, the UPU is focusing on gender equality initiatives across the sector. UPU’s Postal Regulation and UN Policies Programme Manager Susan Alexander spoke to UPU News about the importance of the Post in fostering gender equality and how UPU is driving these initiatives forward.

How do Posts contribute to gender equality and the inclusion of women?
Gender has a dedicated Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), but it is also a cross-cutting issue. On average, women are more likely to be excluded from access to decent work, education, and health services, are over-represented in the global poor, and are therefore potentially more vulnerable to shocks such as pandemics and environmental disasters.
Posts contribute to the advancement of gender equality in several ways. Due to their expansive networks and public service mandate, they can help promote the education of women; help end discrimination, exploitation, and violence through information campaigns; and use their universal service obligation to ensure all women have access to reproductive health resources and social welfare.
The postal sector is also a major employer in many countries. It can therefore take steps to ensure that women are encouraged and supported to work for the Post, and to advance to senior positions.
How can governments work with Posts to achieve their gender equality goals?
If governments, international agencies, civil society and businesses are seeking ways to improve people’s quality of life, they need look no further than the Post. Posts can help to bridge the gap between the people in need and the organizations trying to reach them, yet the world’s largest physical distribution network is still underutilized for social development. This includes programs targeted to raise awareness of gender equality and promote inclusion and empowerment of women.
As a major employer, where is the sector in terms of gender equality?
While we do not currently have global data on gender equality in the Post, it is something that we need to prioritize in the near future so that we can measure the sector’s progress on this issue. However, we do know that many Posts have implemented gender policies and we need to raise awareness about this work and share it with the postal sector.
What is the UPU doing to improve gender equality across the sector?
The 27th Universal Postal Congress in Abidjan approved a resolution on gender equality and the empowerment of women, which gives the UPU a mandate to promote work towards SDG 5 on gender equality during the next four years.
Through this resolution, our member countries directed us to develop an international gender policy for the Post that has several targets. The first is the active promotion of gender mainstreaming – an approach that takes into account the interests and concerns of both women and men) in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes. The policy will also have the UPU’s Council of Administration review proposals promoting greater gender inclusion and equality within the UPU secretariat, as well as in postal organizations, regulators and ministries. The final target will be to encourage member countries to work to actively increase the participation of women in leadership and decision-making roles across the sector.

The theme for International Women’s Day is “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow.” What is the importance in ensuring women are included in leading work on climate change and sustainability in the sector?
Society as a whole benefits from equal participation of women and men in policy-making and decision-making. Sustainable development in particular requires broad participation of society to bring new ideas and to take action. In order to achieve the SDGs effectively, the needs of all people must be considered, including those who don’t typically have a voice in decision making. We recognize that women do not have an equal voice in policy making, so it is essential to make a conscious effort to include women at a level where they can make a difference in decisions that also affect them. Women’s economic participation helps to drive growth at a national level and reduce poverty within communities and households. Gender equality and the empowerment of women also makes good business sense – women are also customers of the Post.
Tune into Voice Mail Exchanges webinar – “Sustainable means equal: Women in postal leadership” – on 8 March to hear Susan and other women leading sustainability in the postal sector discuss gender equality and work on postal sustainability.