THE HAGUE, Netherlands–24 September 2021–The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) organised a workshop to strengthen the role of women professionals in chemical emergency response and management. This inaugural event, titled “International Online Workshop for Women in a First Responder Role to Chemical Incidents”, was held from 23 to 24 September.
Opening the meeting, the Director of the OPCW’s International Cooperation and Assistance Division, Ms Kayoko Gotoh, stressed: “It is my firm conviction that women engaged – or aspiring to be engaged – in first response to chemical emergencies need greater opportunities to develop and realise their potential and to be empowered to make their contribution to the cause of the Chemical Weapons Convention. To make that happen, we all must do our part to break the glass ceiling and open the doors of opportunity.”
Supported by the Assistance and Protection Branch of the Technical Secretariat, the participants examined gender-based challenges in operational issues, including gender considerations for response procedures. They also discussed a range of challenges that women face when building a career in fields related to chemical emergency response and management.
The new initiative follows on the success of the OPCW “Women in Chemistry” project launched in 2016 to advance the role of women scientists in promoting implementation of the Convention.
The workshop was attended by 146 female professionals from 46 OPCW Member States: Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, the Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Bhutan, Brazil, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Czechia, Ecuador, France, India, Iraq, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, the United States of America, and Uruguay.
As the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention, the OPCW, with its 193 Member States, oversees the global endeavour to permanently eliminate chemical weapons. Since the Convention’s entry into force in 1997, it has been the most successful disarmament treaty eliminating an entire class of weapon of mass destruction.
Over 98% of all declared chemical weapon stockpiles have been destroyed under OPCW verification. For its extensive efforts in eliminating chemical weapons, the OPCW received the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize.