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) invited 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.

What we aim for with IWA 34

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.

A digital workshop process

This IWA was developed in a completely digital process. Before the first workshop, a couple of preparatory web meetings were held to give information regarding the process. Also, an initial analysis was performed and circulated to registered participants by end of July 2020. The Summer was used to collect initial input, which aimed to help us prepare for the first workshop and in developing a first draft text. Between the workshops there was commenting via correspondence, complemented by one or more web meeting(s). The exact plan for time between the two workshops depended on the outcome from the first workshop. After the final workshop, the text was edited and prepared for publishing. The published IWA could 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

You can find the published document on the following page: ISO/IWA 34 Women's entrepreneurship — Key definitions and general criteria 

The process for developing an IWA
About ISO and SIS
About ITC

Read the published document

Go to the product page for ISO/IWA 34 to find more information regarding the published document. 

IWA secretariat

Vanessa Erogbogbo
nominated chair, ITC

Maria Gustafsson
secretary, SIS

Anahita Vasudevan
main contact point at ITC