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APC welcomes the opportunity to present this submission in response to the call for inputs for the development of a briefing paper on Gender, tech and the role of business, issued by UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights under the B-Tech Project.
The rapid expansion of technology has the potential to increase all women’s, girls’ and people of diverse genders and sexualities’ participation and access to information and provide new tools for mobilisation, exchange and activism. Simultaneously, however, the increased use of digital technology amplifies the challenges that they have historically fought, including harassment, misogyny, hatred and violence. Recent studies demonstrate the widespread nature of online harms, especially to women. This is intrinsically linked to the offline structural discrimination that characterises societies, driven by imbalances in power, wealth and resources, often worsened by business models, “gender-neutral” practices and legislation.
We have been observing growing attention to gender equality and human rights, including by states and businesses. Yet this attention too often remains siloed and “tokenistic”, paying too little or inadequate attention to the diverse experiences of all women, girls and people of diverse genders and sexualities in implementing their respective duties and responsibilities. To eliminate all forms of discrimination and achieve substantive gender equality, states and businesses must work together with women’s organisations and movements, and all other relevant actors, to create systematic and sustainable changes.
This submission aims to contribute to the goal of providing clear guidance to states and businesses on digital-related issues from an intersectional gendered perspective. Such guidance must be based on binding, universal standards that adopt, at their core, a human rights-based approach while recognising the differentiated impact that tech companies and their business models have on all women, girls and people of diverse genders and sexualities. On the same lines, the B-Tech Project’s new workstream on gender, digital tech, and the role of business, must be founded on an intersectional feminist perspective to ensure that the ongoing digital transformation can usher in a gender-just world that is affirming to all individuals and their path to self-actualisation. All individuals of the global digital ecosystem, no matter who they are or where they are based, must be able to enjoy equal rights to safety, freedom and dignity. This means equal protection from persecution, discrimination, abuse and surveillance; equal access to information, opportunity and community; and equal respect for privacy, identity, self-expression and self-determination. This submission aims to outline practical steps towards this goal.
Read the full submission here.