“Target is to make all ICPs gender friendly in three years”, says Aditya Mishra, Chairman, LPAI
New Delhi: In a first of its kind initiative, the Land Port Authority of India (LPAI) and the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) came together to hold a webinar on gender mainstreaming at the Integrated Check Posts (ICPs) in India. The objective of the consultative event was to gather insights on the challenges related to trade facilitation faced by women at international trading points and the measures that can be taken to address these.
Established as a statutory body under the Department of Border Management, MHA, the Land Ports Authority of India (LPAI) is entrusted with the task of building land ports on India’s borders and provide state of the art infrastructure facilities to facilitate seamless and efficient movement of cargo and passengers at the ICPs.
Speaking at the webinar, Mr. Aditya Mishra, Chairman, LPAI, stated that gender trade facilitation is an important aspect of the overall goal of enhancing trade between India and its neighboring countries and the target of LPAI is to make the land ports more gender friendly in the next three years. There are currently nine ICPs operational in India and fourteen under development. Mr. Mishra requested the participants to share actionable points for putting in place a gender inclusive and responsive trade facilitation ecosystem at all ICPs.
Professor Nisha Taneja of ICRIER noted that this initiative by LPAI was a pioneering attempt on several counts. While, in recent years efforts have been made in India to support and empower trade related entrepreneurship among women, trade facilitation has lagged. Secondly, this consultation not only precedes any such efforts by sea and air port authorities in India but is also perhaps one of the first of its kind when compared to worldwide trends.
Professor Taneja stated that she and her team at ICRIER have in recent years undertaken studies that have highlighted the need for gender responsive trade facilitation measures at border crossings and it was therefore extremely encouraging to see LPAI take cognizance of the issue.
India is signatory to the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) that is an important international framework for reducing trade costs. A National Committee on Trade Facilitation (NCTF) has been accordingly set up to facilitate implementation of the provisions. However, as pointed out in the National Trade Facilitation Action Plan (NTFAP) 2020-2023 gender mainstreaming “is the only parameter on which India has not performed as well as its regional counterparts” in the Global Survey on Digital and Sustainable Trade Facilitation organized by the United Nations. Accordingly, the NTFAP specifically recommends the promotion of “gender inclusiveness in trade” as an action point.
The webinar was supported by the FICCI Ladies Organization (FLO), Federation of Freight Forwarders’ Associations in India (FFFAI), and the Association of Multimodal Transport Operators of India (AMTOI). Prominent speakers included Ujjwala Singhania, National President, FLO, Sharmila H. Amin, Convenor, Women’s Wing, AMTOI, and Sudip Dey, Vice Chairman, FFFAI.
The participants were deeply appreciative of the LPAI in taking the lead in integrating the gender perspective in the design and operation of the ICPs. They hoped that this consultative webinar would lead to more such consultations on the infrastructure deficits and safety related challenges that constrain women at the land ports and that other agencies related to trade facilitation would also follow suit.