Deputy Secretary-General Urges Support for Women’s Access, Online Safety, Warning of Digital Gender Divide in International Women’s Day Message

(Delayed in transmission)

Following is the text of UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s video message on the occasion of the United Nations Observance of International Women’s Day, on 8 March:

Ladies, gentlemen and friends, it is a pleasure to join you today to celebrate the agency of all women, and in particular, those who dedicate themselves to advancing transformative technology and innovation for the well-being of all.  I salute you.

As we heard, digital transformation holds the promise of accelerating gender equality and women’s empowerment.  Yet, it simultaneously poses the risk of repeating and amplifying existing patterns of gender inequality against which we must guard.

And, while digital connectivity increases worldwide, its uneven spread intensifies the exclusion of those who remain disconnected.  The COVID-19 pandemic crisis has accelerated this disparity, leaving further behind those without the digital infrastructure and skills required to access education, health, welfare and economic services successfully.

Also, online and ICT-facilitated gender-based violence has kept women and girls at risk in digital spaces.  Without decisive action, the digital gender divide will become the new face of widening social and economic inequalities and impede, amongst other important milestones, the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Therefore, a gender-responsive approach to innovation and technology will be critical; indeed, it will be essential.

As we conclude today’s programme, I urge everyone to take three urgent steps:

First, promote the literacy, participation, employment and leadership of women in technology and innovation.  Full, equal and meaningful participation and leadership of women and girls is the pathway to gender-transformative innovation.

Second, prevent and eliminate technology-facilitated gender-based violence and protect the rights of women and girls online.  Policy design to end gender-based violence online will need meaningful participation from survivors of violence and young women and women’s organizations.

And last, leverage our collective resources and alliances to finance inclusive and gender-responsive digital transformation and innovation.  This is at the centre of the Secretary-General's Transforming Education Summit.

During the sixty-seventh session of the Commission on the Status of Women, we must collectively give meaning to these actions, building on the power of civil society and the rich knowledge, experience and resources of the women and girls, advocates and participants represented here.

Dear friends, our task is to design digital environments with women and girls at the centre of our efforts.  For this, we need joint endeavours to forge forth with a common cause and collaboration among national and local Governments, the private sector, civil society, academia and multilateral organizations.

Today as we celebrate International Women’s Day, let us commit to taking action to build a safer and more equal future for everyone.

Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.