Technology and innovation can provide opportunities for girls and women to reach their full potential and become change agents for themselves and their communities. The theme for the 67th Commission on the Status of Women held last March was on the highlighted the possibility for innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.
With the help of our interns Francesca Povey and Prateeksha Shukla, we organised an online survey of our network on their experience in using digital technology, the advantages and disadvantages, and what they would like to say to the global leaders. We received over 500 responses from our network and another NGO, Global G.L.O.W. who collaborated with us.
The respondents shared that they used the power of social media to have a voice, raise global awareness, mobilize action, and make governments accountable for addressing women’s and girls’ rights. The survey also showed the inequality in infrastructure, internet access and digital education.
Sadly, a number of the girls and women also raised the issue of safety in relation social media. About 17% of respondents indicated that they or someone they knew encountered cyberbullying, sexual harassment, unsolicited and sexually explicit or abusive messages from strangers. They reported increased incidences of cybercrimes like financial fraud, fake online shopping sites and harassment by scammers. These experiences lead to some restricting their use of social media to avoid unsolicited messages. These misogynistic comments discourage women and girls from speaking online about issues that affect them.
Girls and women are asking for their rights NOW, not in the future. We call on UN member states to:
• Deliver on their commitments to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 especially universal quality education and gender equality.
• Strategically invest in quality education, digital literacy, and training for all, including women and girls, persons with disabilities, and indigenous people to eliminate the digital divide. And include, support, and listen to girls’ needs in closing the digital divide.
• Invest in digital and electricity infrastructures, national broadband and mobile technology that allows affordable, stable, and safe access to digital connectivity for all.
• Work with social media platform corporations to take appropriate measures to ensure online safety for all including enacting and enforcing laws against cyberbullying and cybercrimes.
Read our CSW67 Written Statement ICI.
We also endorsed the following Statements: