ISO/IWA 34 – Definition of a ‘Woman‐Owned Business’ and guidance on its use

The Swedish Institute for Standards (SIS) and the International Trade Centre (ITC) invite all interested stakeholders to join the development of an ISO International Workshop Agreement (IWA) on how to define a "woman-owned business". By developing a commonly agreed upon definition, we aim to lower entry barriers for women business owners to public and private procurement opportunities, and increase their access to capacity‐building programmes, incentives schemes and certification programmes.


The purpose of this IWA is to provide a definition of a woman‐owned business and guidance to businesses, statistical agencies, governments and international initiatives on how the definition can be used.

Creating a definition of a woman‐owned business and guidance on its use will allow for clear and targeted efforts in advancing women’s economic empowerment and will contribute to the overall achievement of the 2030 Global Goals for Sustainable Development, including several gender specific targets under SDG 5 on Gender Equality.

In the long term, the development of an IWA on a woman‐owned business may spur a broader discussion and additional efforts towards further standardisation work on gender equality and related topics. Over time, a standard definition will facilitate the collection of internationally comparable data on women’s entrepreneurship and the impact on local and national economies.

How to participate

This IWA will be developed in a completely digital process. Before the first workshop, a couple of preparatory web meetings will be held to give information regarding the process. Also, an initial analysis will be performed and circulated to registered participants by end of July 2020. We will use the Summer to collect initial input, which will help us prepare for the first workshop and in developing a first draft text. Between the workshops there will be commenting via correspondence, complemented by one or more web meeting(s). The exact plan for time between the two workshops will depend on the outcome from the first workshop. After the final workshop, the text will be edited and published. The published IWA can then be purchased via national standards bodies. All the dates can be found in the list below:

  • Initial analysis available on 31st July 2020
  • Opportunity to provide initial input online – until 23rd August 2020
  • Preparatory web meetings held between July and September 2020
  • All material for the first workshop, including first draft, circulated September 25th at the latest
  • Registration deadline first workshop September 30th 2020
  • First workshop 14-16 October 2020 (online)
  • Updating of the draft by ITC and SIS based on the discussions at the workshop
  • Commenting by participants and web meeting(s)
  • Second workshop 14-16 December 2020 (online)
  • IWA published February/March 2021
The process for developing an IWA
About ISO and SIS
About ITC
How to register

Invitation to join

In this document you will find more detailed information regarding the IWA, the process to develop it and how you can contribute to it. 

IWA secretariat

Vanessa Erogbogbo
nominated chair, ITC

Maria Gustafsson
secretary, SIS

Anahita Vasudevan
main contact point at ITC

Registration to join the process

All interested stakeholders are welcome to join the process.

Please register via this link as soon as possible.

If you wish to join the workshop October 14th-16th, please register before September 30th 2020.