© UNFPA/Sofie Birkin

International Women’s Day

08 March 2023

Global

When women and girls are included in the creation and design of technology, there is a world of potential for innovation that promotes gender equality – and benefits society as a whole.

In contrast, excluding women comes at a high cost. 

Technology is increasingly being misused and weaponized against women and girls on the basis of gender. Known as technology-facilitated gender-based violence, it takes many forms, including sextortion (threatening to publish sexual information or images), image-based abuse (sharing intimate photos without consent), doxxing (publishing private personal information), cyberbullying and harassment. It carries significant health, safety, political and economic consequences for women and girls and their families, and for society overall. 

Including women and girls in the creation and advancement of technology is key to ensuring the safety, usability and inclusivity of digital tools and products. 

With that in mind, for International Women’s Day this year, we are celebrating women and girls who champion the advancement of transformative technology. Our theme: DigitALL: Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality. We are also exploring the impact of the digital gender gap on economic and social inequalities; spotlighting the importance of protecting the rights of women and girls in digital spaces; and addressing the ever-evolving problem of technology-facilitated gender-based violence.

Technology is not the enemy. It holds tremendous power for good — expanding networks, education, opportunities, minds. It gives voice to those who have long gone unheard. We must prevent it from being misused against women and girls as a tool of subjugation and violence. 

UNFPA is combating digital violence by providing survivors with response services when and where they need them. We are also building awareness of the issue to empower survivors – including through our interactive feature The Virtual Is Real and our bodyright campaign. And we are working to prevent digital violence at the outset by transforming harmful social and gendered norms – and by supporting technology development that includes women and girls and builds in safety and privacy by design. 

“Technology is essential to advancing gender equality,” says UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem. “When women and girls can access and use technology safely, they can amplify their voices and exercise their agency and autonomy, giving them a platform that can transform their future – and ours.”

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