Time to walk the talk on bridging gender digital gap
What you need to know:
- The adoption of technological approaches targeted at women and girls is necessary.
- The onus is now on member states to implement the CSW67 recommendations and fast-track the realisation of equality to enable women and girls to occupy their rightful place.
The 67th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW67) concluded last Friday after 12 days of extensive and intensive deliberations that resulted in the recommendation of a raft of measures to help bridge the gender digital gap as part of the overall goal of gender equality.
CSW is the principal United Nations (UN) global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. The annual event takes place at the UN headquarters in New York.
Discussions, including those at the side events, lived up to the session’s priority theme of ‘Innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls’ as well as its review theme of ‘Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls’.
The commission did well to reaffirm the significance of women’s and girls’ equal and full participation in science, technology and innovation. But this will not become a reality without enforcement of its recommendations, as reports show that gender inequalities are still widespread, especially in developing countries, Kenya included. None other than United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres warned that “progress won over decades is vanishing before our eyes.” His remarks call for serious soul-searching by all stakeholders.
The adoption of technological approaches targeted at women and girls will be necessary. The onus is now on member states to implement the recommendations and fast-track the realisation of gender equality to enable women and girls to occupy their rightful place.
In the context of the CSW67 recommendations, the success of equality campaigns will require all hands on deck. As such, no stakeholder should be left out. Concerted efforts are instrumental if countries have to overcome numerous hurdles that have continued to stifle similar initiatives and increased barriers to digital technology access, especially illiteracy and financial constraints, as well as fear due to stereotypes and harmful cultural practices.
It is time to redefine our social fabric. In this regard, adopting digital technology will go a long way in creating cohesive and stable societies. However, as the UN boss cautioned, the world must be wary of the dangers posed by technology as we seek to boost access to digital platforms.
The emerging risks call for a safe internet environment that promotes and protects women’s and girls’ rights and fundamental freedoms. How we go about it will determine the outcomes, which, in the long run, could widen the existing gender gap by rolling back the gains made, or close it to enable the world to achieve equality and dignity for women and girls.
UN entities and other international financial organisations, as well as multi-stakeholder platforms, also have a critical role in supporting member states’ efforts to meet their resource needs.
Kenya must, therefore, leave nothing to chance. Any form of support, regardless of the magnitude, is crucial. Political and religious leaders must also back the campaigns and related programmes, considering the influence they command. If everything goes according to plan, gender digital gaps should be a thing of the past.