Commission on Women opens at UN amidst stalled progress on women's rights.

March 7,2023 : The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) has begun its 67th annual meeting, gathering representatives from governments, the United Nations (UN), civil society and youth groups, and activists to examine how gender equality, empowerment, and sustainable development can be achieved in the digital era. This marks the first in-person gathering since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The meeting will focus on closing gender gaps in technology and innovation and promoting women’s full participation and leadership in science and technology.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres noted that progress on women’s rights is vanishing in many countries, including Afghanistan, where women and girls have been erased from public life, and gender equality is growing ever more distant. As gender inequality is ultimately a question of power, the Secretary-General called for urgent action in three areas, starting with increasing education, income, and employment for women and girls, particularly in the Global South. Furthermore, women’s and girls’ full participation and leadership in science and technology must also be promoted. Mr Guterres said the international community must also create a safe digital environment for women and girls, outlining his third point. In this regard, the UN is working to advance a code of conduct for information integrity on digital platforms aimed at reducing harm and increasing accountability.

The President of the UN General Assembly, Csaba Kőrösi, said that women’s expertise is needed to address complex and interlocking crises, such as climate change, conflict, poverty, hunger, and water scarcity. However, he noted that women are still a minority in digital information technology, computing, physics, mathematics, and engineering and account for less than 35% of the global information and communications technology workforce.

Sima Bahous, Executive Director of UN Women, said the digital revolution offers the potential for unprecedented improvement in the lives of women and girls at a time when progress towards sustainable development is at risk. She called for a global normative framework to mobilize technology towards achieving gender equality, expressing confidence that the meeting will underscore that “digital rights are women’s rights.”

The CSW Chair, Ms Joyini, outlined some of the objectives of this latest session in her opening remarks, including considering the responsibilities of governments and the private sector in ensuring that adequate safeguards, norms, and standards exist and women and girls’ fundamental rights are not violated while using digital technologies. There will also be calls to provide more opportunities for women in innovation, funding and investment and to eliminate algorithms that perpetuate and deepen existing discrimination and biases.

The CSW67 meeting will conclude on Friday, 17 March, with dozens of side events scheduled in the interim, including the UN Secretary-General’s annual dialogue with women’s and feminist civil society groups, a youth forum, and a discussion on promoting women’s and girls’ equal social, economic, and political rights in Afghanistan.