Participants at #MeToo, Women in the Media: From Outcry to Action, a side event during the 62nd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, held at UN Headquarters in New York in March 2018. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown
As part of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) 62 at UN Headquarters in NY, an interactive dialogue was held on 14 March 2018 to review progress on the agreed conclusions from the 47th session of CSW. The 47th session focused on the participation and access of women to the media, and ICTs potential impact on and use as an instrument of the advancement and empowerment of women. Several government delegations (Belgium, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Saudi Arabia, New Zealand, Bulgaria, Kenya, Germany, Argentina, Sudan, Costa Rica and Nigeria), in partnership with stakeholders from their countries, made detailed presentations on the progress they are making to enhance ICT access, skills, leadership and research for women and girls. Footage of the presentations is available here and here.
In addition to the interactive dialogue on women and girls in media and ICTs, UN Secretary-General released a report on this theme, available here. The report concludes that the normative framework on women’s access to and participation in ICT and the media has in fact strengthened in recent years. Governments have enhanced their policy frameworks, built new partnerships, expanded data collection and addressed new and emerging issues. However, significant implementation gaps remain which require urgent attention, especially given the commitments made in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the focus on ICT in the Sustainable Development Goals.
The report noted the persistent and widening gender gaps in ICT access and usage, declining enrollment of women and girls in computer science in some regions and online violence as significant concerns to be addressed. It called on governments and other stakeholders to take a comprehensive and integrated approach to gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls and their human rights in the digital age through the specific measures outlined in the report. These measures include:
Linking and aligning national sustainable development, ICT and gender equality strategies and action plans with targets, timeframes and resources
Prioritizing closing the gender gap in ICT access and use
Increasing women and girls’ participation in the development of content, applications, products and services that meet their needs and promote their empowerment
Working with the tech and ICT sectors to enhance attention to the gender specific impact of digital products and services, and leverage the emerging opportunities in tech for gender equality
Reflect on girls’ and women’s differentiated experiences and needs in ICT policy
Address threats such as online violence, privacy violations, and the gender impacts of AI
Increase the number, retention and promotion of women in ICT, including in employment and entrepreneurship
Increase digital literacy
Eliminate gender stereotypes and discriminatory social norms
Improve the collection and use of gender statistics and analysis
Support and engage in global and regional partnerships
As the interactive dialogue and Secretary-General’s report demonstrate, great progress on bridging the gender digital divide has been made, but there is still significant amount of work to be done to truly realize digital equality for all. In addition to the aforementioned measures, the report reinforced the need and opportunity for initiatives like the EQUALS Global Partnership to achieve gender equality in the digital age. EQUALS collaborative and interdisciplinary partnership serves to strengthen existing efforts, and facilitate collective action with a greater reach and impact to tackle the gender digital divide.