Over the next two weeks, participants from across the world – including representatives from governments, the UN, civil society and youth groups, as well as activists – will examine how gender equality, empowerment and sustainable development can be achieved in the digital era.
The meeting, known as CSW67, will also highlight online violence and other dangers women and girls face, as well as the need for quality education in the information age.
In her opening remarks, CSW67 Chair Mathu Joyini said although digital technologies are rapidly transforming societies, they are also giving rise to profound new challenges that may perpetuate and deepen existing gender inequalities.
“Gender-based discrimination is a systemic problem that has been interwoven into the fabric of our political, social and economic lives, and the technology sector is no different,” she said.
“However, this is compounded when you consider the multiple factors that impact and exacerbate this inherent discrimination.”
UN Secretary-General António Guterres noted that the CSW is meeting as progress on women’s rights is vanishing – including in countries such as Afghanistan, where women and girls have been, in effect, erased from public life – and as gender equality is growing ever more distant.
“Your focus this year on closing gender gaps in technology and innovation could not be more timely. Because as technology races ahead, women and girls are being left behind,” he said.
As gender inequality is ultimately a question of power, the Secretary-General called for urgent action in three areas, starting with increasing education, income and employment for women and girls, particularly in the Global South.
Furthermore, women’s and girls’ full participation and leadership in science and technology must also be promoted.
Mr. Guterres said the international community must also create a safe digital environment for women and girls, outlining his third point. In this regard, the UN is working to advance a code of conduct for information integrity on digital platforms, aimed at reducing harm and increasing accountability.
The world needs women’s expertise to address complex and interlocking crises, such as climate change, conflict, poverty, hunger and water scarcity, said the President of the UN General Assembly, Csaba Kőrösi.
However, he noted that women are still a minority in digital information technology, computing, physics, mathematics and engineering, and account for less than 35 per cent of the global information and communications technology workforce.
“They are 20 per cent less likely than men to use the internet – but 27 times more likely to face online harassment or hate speech, when they do. New technologies, if used well, offer a strong and equalizing force to rapidly change this state of affairs,” he said in a video message.
CSW67 will conclude on Friday, 17 March, and dozens of side events are also scheduled in the interim.