Commission of the Status of Women – CSW65

There is a real need to explore the role of innovation and digital technology in empowering and transforming the lives of women and girls in cities. Further to this, women’s full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, as well as the elimination of violence, for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.

In lieu of this, Pangea Accelerator and UN-Habitat and varied partners have come to organize a timely event on Wednesday 24th March 2021, 9 am -10:30 am NYC time focussing on Innovation and advancements in digital technology in transforming cities. 

Women and girls are also transforming industries, the way we do business and the way we receive key basic services. Innovation and technology are also influencing urban development and the way cities are governed. Some are calling this the 4th Industrial revolution and with most of the world now urbanized, cities are where much of this revolution is taking place. At the United Nations, key documents such as the Secretary General’s strategy on new technologies and the Roadmap on digital cooperation, underscore the critical role that innovation and technology are to seen play in delivering sustainable development including gender equality.

Innovation and digital technologies have created new communication and collaboration channels, allowing for new approaches to political engagement as well as participation in urban governance and development outcomes. Like many opportunities, however, it is important to understand who benefits and how. With Agenda 2030’s commitment to gender equality across all sectors of development, how innovation and digital technology empower women and girls must be understood, engaged with and monitored.

Towns and cities around the world provide a dynamic setting to understand the nexus between innovation, digital technology and the empowerment of women and girls. Innovation and technology have the potential to serve as key drivers of change in cities and provide opportunities to reach women and girls, particularly those considered left behind. Technology and innovation have provided new decision-making platforms so women and girls can both drive and benefit from sustainable urbanization. This is important given they continue to be under-represented in urban decision-making processes across the globe. At the same time, there is a need to identify and explore how and why digital technologies have facilitated and provided opportunities for women and girls to interact and participate in the democratic space. Technology

This can also be a catalyst for transformative improvement to the lives of women and girls in cities – but more is needed to understand the principles and pre-conditions which must underpin the innovation and technology in order that it delivers change on the ground that puts women at the heart of digital innovation.

With the COVID 19 pandemic, the internet and smartphones have become real “tools for citizenship” and have shown how serious the gender gap in ICT is and how the lack of digital literacy has increased all economic and social inequalities. However, women around the world not only have fewer digital tools available and fewer digital skills than men, but there is also a large gender gap in the number of women and men employed in the ICT sector with unequal economic outputs, fewer opportunities for professional growth, and difficult access to leadership positions. In Europe, for example, women in ICT account for only 17.7% of the entire digital sector” and the gender gap in leadership positions is still almost double than can be found in the overall labor force.

This is a central issue. Since technology is not only something that is discovered but also is created, this also means that the design of technologies that enable digital life is largely entrusted to men and also that the datasets on which algorithms work are biased by the underrepresentation of women. Encouraging girls into STEM professions and strengthening basic digital skills in women, especially the elderly, in slums, urban suburbs, and rural areas, is therefore strategic for equality and development of the whole community.

This event aims to showcase a series of impactful initiatives that have used innovation and technology to change the lives of women and girls in cities. The event will focus on how the innovation or technology has improved participatory processes in planning, access to land and basic services, decision making in slum upgrading, and in participatory budgeting. The event will explore how innovation and technology can empower women and girls and contribute to the learning required to understand the principles and pre-conditions needed to deliver gender-responsive technology and innovation.”

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