What you need to know:
- Countries also resolved to upscale the human and institutional capacity in support of technology and innovation for women and girls, enhance digital safety for women and children and regional digital cooperation.
- The Pre-CSW67 Ministerial meeting was convened by the African Union Commission in partnership with UN Women, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the International Telecommunication Union and the UNDP.
African countries have agreed to exploit technology and innovation for empowerment of women and girls in the forthcoming 67th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).
The 67th Pre-CSW Africa consultations have adopted the Common Africa Position for the CSW67 to be held in the United States (US) in March next year. The African states unanimously agreed to enhance access to digital tools, the Internet, and relevant content for women and girls, and ensure data availability to support gender-responsive innovation.
They also resolved to upscale the human and institutional capacity in support of technology and innovation for women and girls, enhance digital safety for women and children and regional digital cooperation.
The Pre-CSW67 Ministerial meeting was convened by the African Union Commission (AUC) in partnership with UN Women, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (Uneca), the International Telecommunication Union and UNDP.
Delegates agreed that building inclusive innovation and technology ecosystems must be at the heart of efforts to leverage innovation and technology to support the socioeconomic and political development of women and girls. They further noted that while technology and innovation are crucial to accelerating the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, the statistics on access, beneficiaries and who influences their development point to gender disparities.
The delegates stressed the need to ensure technological developments do not widen the digital gender divides. Ms Prudence Ngwenya, the acting director at the AUC Women, Gender and Youth Directorate, called for Africa’s common position to be translated into implementable actions and mainstreamed into the work that governments do towards achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment.
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“Empowering women and girls through the provision of meaningful access to the Internet and innovative technologies could undoubtedly provide them with opportunities to start businesses, and to access education, health, as well as social and financial services,” said Ms Ngwenya.
The forum heard that technology and innovation have been a positive disruptor, accelerating progress in terms of financial inclusion, creating jobs, improving access to healthcare, providing information on agricultural practices, and opening virtual spaces for citizens to engage in governance.
Dr Maxime Houinato, UN Women Regional Director for East and Southern Africa, called for efforts to ensure the interests of women and girls shape the values and principles that underlie governance of technology and innovation.
“CSW 67 provides an opportunity for Africa to influence the global discourse on digital cooperation and ensure technology and innovation accelerate economic growth, while fairly distributing the benefits to African women and girls as well as reshaping sociocultural norms to create a more equal and just world,” said Dr Houinato.
Ms Edlam Abera Yemeru, the director in-charge of Gender, Poverty and Social Policy Division at Uneca, said digital technologies offer huge opportunities to transform lives.
“At the same time, we know that the risk of women being left behind is significant. We need to make sure women and girls have equal access to technology,” said Yemeru.