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The United Nations Global Digital Compact (GDC) was born in September 2020 on the occasion of the United Nations’ 75th anniversary. At that time, states adopted a political declaration where they committed to improved digital cooperation. But importantly, this commitment must be read along with other promises put forward in the declaration, including those of “leaving no one behind”, “abiding by international law and ensuring justice", “protecting our planet", and “putting women and girls at the centre”.

Building on these commitments, the Secretary-General released his Our Common Agenda report, which proposes a Global Digital Compact (GDC) to be agreed on at the Summit of the Future in September 2024, expected to “outline shared principles for an open, free, and secure digital future for all”.

The core principles of the GDC of openness, freedom, and security must be infused with an intersectional gender perspective to ensure that the ongoing digital transformation of our economies and societies can usher in a gender-just world that is affirming to all individuals and their path to self-actualisation.

Below, we provide comments on the GDC Zero Draft, released by the process co-facilitators, Sweden and Zambia, in April 2024. These comments are the result of a collective process and seek to advance the centrality of gender issues in the GDC, ensuring that the governance, development, and use of technology is inclusive and benefits women and girls, in all their diversity, around the world. This approach seeks to prevent the deepening of gender inequality and promote equitable access and participation in the digital context.

We applaud many elements of the current draft, including the incorporation of stand-alone principles on gender, human rights, a multistakeholder approach, and environmental sustainability. The Zero Draft contains critical language in relation to these principles that must be maintained in the final document. While acknowledging these positive aspects, we wish to highlight areas that demand attention in future negotiations, both in terms of content and language.

Read the full gender review of the GDC zero draft here.