The Central Board of Indirect Taxes & Customs (CBIC) has prescribed measures to empower women to contribute meaningfully to the global economy. These include greater representation for women in trade bodies, besides providing gender specific infrastructure at customs posts.

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The board came out with two circulars on the occasion of International Women’s Day. One, states that Inland Container Depots (ICDs), Container Freight Stations (CFSs) and Air Freight Stations (AFSs) will ensure “development of gender responsive infrastructure at the logistics facilities to improve workplace efficiency of the women workforce, including providing sufficient lighting, panic buttons, etc.

Besides, it will provide care infrastructure and services, especially creches, according to the rules laid out in the Maternity Benefits Act, 2017. Also, an Internal Complaints Committees (ICC) will be put in place in accordance with the provisions of the Prevention of Sexual Harassment At Work Places Act, 2013. It has been advised to hold regular gender sensitisation training sessions for staff of CFS/AFS/ICD and field formations.

“There will be regular upgradation of facilities from a gender perspective,” the circular said, while adding that this was an indicative list and more would be added as and when required. Further, it said the Principal Commissioner/ Commissioner of Customs with jurisdiction over CFS/ AFS/ ICD will take steps to encourage availability of gender specific infrastructural facilities.

According to the circular, women’s participation in the CFS/AFS/ICD has increased significantly through the different job roles and functions of trade in the recent past, which demands providing safe work places for women at such facilities to foster an inclusive and respectful work environment for them. In view of the Government’s dedication to promote Nari Shakti, “it is imperative to provide women a safe and secure work environment in their respective career fields,” it added.

In the second circular, the board said to make the most of trade as a catalyst for equality, “women must be represented at all levels. Women must be represented across different job roles and functions of trade – be it as traders, customs house agents, freight forwarders, or customs brokers.” Further, keeping in view the growing participation of women in the logistics sector, “a conscious effort is required by all participants, including Partner Government Agencies (PGAs) and trade bodies, in this regard.”

Accordingly, it has been decided that the Chief Commissioners/ Commissioners should ensure women’s representation in the Permanent Trade Facilitation Committee (PTFC) and the Customs Clearance Facility Committee (CCFC) meetings, preferably through women associations. They will also “ensure inclusion of at least one agenda point from the women’s perspective,” the circular said.

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Top officials in the field will encourage the trade bodies/ custodians to establish dedicated help-desks and processing mechanisms for women traders and women logistics service providers. They are expected to support in upskilling women logistics service providers, freight forwarders and customs brokers by offering women the relevant training, the circular said.