The UN commission calls for closing the gender digital divide – KGET 17

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N.’s first global body fighting for gender equality called for broad efforts Saturday to close the gap between men and women in today’s technology-driven world and called for zero tolerance for gender-based violence and harassment on the internet.

In a document approved by consensus after all-night negotiations at the end of a two-week meeting, the Commission on the Status of Women expressed serious concern about the interrelationship between offline and online violence, harassment and discrimination against women and girls — and condemned the rise of these acts.

It calls for a significant increase in public and private sector investment to bridge the digital gender gap. He also called for the removal of barriers to equal access to digital technology for all women and girls, and for new policies and programs to achieve gender parity in new scientific and technological fields.

Sima Bahous, executive director of UN Women, a United Nations entity that focuses on gender equality and empowerment, called the document “a game changer” in promoting a blueprint for a more equal and connected world for women and girls. The challenge now, she said, is for governments, the private sector, civil society and young people to turn the blueprint “into a reality for all women and girls.”

At the start of the commission’s two-week meeting, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said its focus was very timely because women and girls are being left behind as technology races forward.

“Three billion people are still not connected to the Internet, the majority of them are women and girls in developing countries, (and) in least developed countries only 19 percent of women are online,” Guterres said. “Globally, girls and women make up only one-third of students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” and men outnumber women two to one in the tech industry.

Bahous said at the opening of the meeting that “the digital divide has become the new face of gender inequality”, with 259 million more men than women online last year. She also cited a survey of journalists from 125 countries that found three-quarters had experienced online harassment during their work, and a third had engaged in self-censorship in response.

The “consensus conclusions” document adopted by the 45-member commission on Saturday calls for equal quality education for women and girls in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, information and communication technology and digital literacy so they can thrive in a rapidly changing world. .

During lengthy negotiations on the 93-paragraph document, UN diplomats said Russia, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Holy See contested the language on women’s rights, and the human rights language was contested by those countries as well as Cuba and China. There were also intense debates about technology-facilitated gender-based violence language, they said, speaking on condition of anonymity because negotiations were closed.

The final document reaffirms the 1995 Beijing Platform, adopted by 189 countries, which said for the first time in a UN document that women’s human rights include the right to control and decide “on matters relating to their sexuality, including their sexual and reproductive health, freedom from discrimination, coercion and violence.”

The latest issue blocking consensus was Pakistan’s insistence on adding a reference to “foreign occupation” to the document and Israel’s strong opposition, diplomats said. The reference was not included, and before the adoption of the document, the representative of Pakistan expressed regret that the needs and priorities of women belonging to developing countries and facing humanitarian crises, including foreign occupation, were not included.

The Latest

To Top