TANZANIA – The UN’s top global body fighting for gender equality on Saturday called for a wider effort to close the gender gap in today’s technological world and called for zero tolerance for gender-based violence and online harassment.
In a document approved by consensus after all-night talks at the end of a two-week meeting, the Commission on the Status of Women expressed serious concern about the link between offline and online violence, harassment and discrimination against women and girls. condemned the growth of these acts.
He called for a significant increase in public and private sector investment to bridge the gender digital divide. He also called for removing barriers to equal access to digital technologies for all women and girls and for new policies and programs to achieve gender parity in emerging science and technology fields.
Seema Bacchus, executive director of UN Women, a United Nations organization that focuses on gender equality and empowerment, called the document “a game changer” in advancing the agenda 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 youth to make the plan “a reality for all women and girls.”
At the start of the commission’s two-week meeting, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said his emphasis was very timely because women and girls are being left behind as technology races ahead.
“Three billion people are still not connected to the Internet, most of them women and girls in developing countries, (and) in the least developed countries, only 19% of women are online,” Guterres said. “Globally, girls and women make up only one-third of students studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” and men in the tech industry outnumber women twice.
At the kick-off, Bacchus said “the digital divide has become the new face of gender inequality”: 259 million more men than women were online last year. She also cited a survey of female journalists from 125 countries that found three-quarters had faced online harassment during their work, and a third had engaged in self-censorship in response.
The “consensus conclusions” document, adopted on Saturday by the 45-member commission, 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 world that is rapidly is changing.
During lengthy negotiations on the 93-paragraph document, UN diplomats said Russia, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Holy See contested the women’s rights wording, while those countries, as well as Cuba and China, contested the human rights wording. There was also intense debate over the wording of technology-enabled gender-based violence, they said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the talks were closed.
The resulting document reaffirms the 1995 Beijing Platform, adopted by 189 countries, which stated for the first time in a UN document that women’s human rights include the right to freely control and decide “matters relating to their sexuality, including their sexual and reproductive health”. discrimination, coercion and violence”.
The latest issue blocking consensus was Pakistan’s insistence that the document include a reference to “foreign occupation” and Israel’s staunch opposition, diplomats said. The reference was not included, and before the document was adopted, the representative of Pakistan expressed regret that the needs and priorities of women belonging to developing countries facing humanitarian crises, including foreign occupation, had not been included.
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