By Hija KamranPublished on
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Governments, civil society and private sector from around the world are convening in New York from March 6 to March 17, 2023 for the 67th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW67) to discuss the priority theme, “Innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.” APC is hosting and participating in various side events and NGO Forums sessions directly linked to its thematic priorities around online gender-based violence, freedom of expression, disinformation, cybersecurity and gender digital divide.
See APC’s schedule during the CSW67 here.
During these two weeks, APC is engaging with governments and civil society organisations to advance key messages rooted in the goal to promote equality and inclusion in the digital world. These key messages are based on the years of research conducted by our member organisations and partners around the world, as well as APC’s extensive work on the themes of gender equality at the intersection of technology. Below are some key messages along with a reading list to help us all prepare for the discussions at CSW67.
Gender digital divide
The gender digital divide intersects with the other gaps and inequalities that women and girls, in all their diversity, face in social, labour, health, economic and political spheres. The digital divide is multifaceted and includes many factors such as accessibility, availability, affordability, quality of service, digital skills, among others. It is impacted by various factors including location, economic power, age, gender, racial or ethnic origin, social and cultural norms, familial structures, and education, amongst other things.
Moreover, the digital divide can deepen other divides and inequalities and discrimination. For example, women and girls, such as women with disabilities, young women, migrant women, lesbian and bisexual women, trans women and gender-diverse people, those who are marginalised due to their race, ethnicity or religion, racialized women, women who live in rural areas, or women who are criminalised – among others – will continue to be excluded, if there is not a comprehensive plan of action that takes an intersectional lens to women’s rights. This must include an integral recognition of the diversity of experiences and needs of all women and girls.
A feminist internet starts with enabling more women and girls, in all their diversity, to enjoy universal, acceptable, affordable, unconditional, open, meaningful and equal access to the internet.
Here are some readings to deepen our understanding of how, when women in all their diversities gain access to digital technology, they transform public spaces.
Online gender-based violence
Online gender-based violence (GBV) is the manifestation of the historically unequal power relations between men and women and systemic gender-based discrimination. GBV tends to have a disproportionate impact on women and girls, due to their subordinate status in society and vulnerability to violence, and it can also be conducted against individuals on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Digital spaces and digital infrastructure are built and created from a hetero-normative and patriarchal logic. Online gender dynamics have been shown to reinforce or even amplify the social, economic, cultural and political structures of the offline world. Therefore, online GBV, similar to other forms of GBV, is systemic and stems from an unequal distribution of power and resources.
Here are some readings to dive deeper into how online GBV impacts women’s and gender diverse people’s access to technology:
Freedom of expression
The internet has become a critical mobilising and influencing tool for all actors engaged in civic and political movements. Women, people of diverse genders and sexualities and other groups who experience multiple forms of discrimination and oppression and who have experienced consistent exclusion from public and political participation have occupied digital spaces to share information, raise awareness, build solidarity across borders, campaign for change and to build and strengthen feminist movements and organising.
Nonetheless, expression is not free for many women or gender-nonconforming people. Their voices are suppressed, controlled or punished explicitly by laws, policies and patriarchal values. Additionally, journalists, human rights defenders, activists, politicians and regular people are increasingly targeted for their right to freedom of expression and challenging the status quo.
Here are some readings about how these impact the freedom of expression of women and gender diverse people and their communities:
Strengthening women and girls’ rights, in all their diversity, in digital contexts
It is essential to strengthen and visibilise women and girls in all their diversity in technology spaces, online and offline. It is their voice that makes the future of technology, and in extension, the future of the world, safe and inclusive for everyone. Steps need to be taken to bring these voices on discussion and decision-making tables, and to prioritise their interest at a global level. Their contribution to the digital ecosystem is critical with an acknowledgement to move closer to building a feminist internet.
Here are some readings to expand on this need:
Engage with APC through our main accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Mastodon (@email@example.com), and through our GenderIT accounts on Twitter (in English and Spanish). In addition to #CSW67 and #IWD2023, we encourage you to use thematic hashtags, such as #HumanRightsOnline #GenderDigitalDivide #FeministInternet #OnlineGenderViolence #FreedomofExpression #InternetShutdowns #GenderedDisinformation #CommunityNetworks. You can also tag or mention @UN_CSW, @UNWomen, @UN_HRC, @UNHumanRights for #CSW67 related content.