The 67th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW67) concluded its two-week session on 17 March with the acknowledgment of the critical role of technology and innovation in achieving gender equality. The Agreed Conclusions adopted by Member States provides a blueprint for all stakeholders to promote the full and equal participation and leadership of women and girls in the design, transformation and integration of digital technologies and innovation processes that fulfil the human rights and needs of women and girls.
Throughout the two weeks, UN Women hosted two flagship Generation Equality side events, alongside more than fifteen Action Coalition-led events and activations. The Commission benefited from important contributions by Generation Equality leaders and commitment makers, including of the Action Coalition on Technology and Innovation for Gender Equality, which has made significant advances in cementing alliances between Governments, private sector, civil society and the UN system and in driving momentum and commitments to advance gender equality through technology and innovation. Across all spaces the multi-stakeholder partnership model of Generation Equality and its Action Coalitions was showcased as a powerful platform for advancing collaboration and investment for gender equality.
Advancing Generation Equality partnerships for a feminist digital future
On 7 March, the Generation Equality side event: “Open, Safe and Equal - Shaping a Feminist Digital Future”, hosted by UN Women and UN Foundation, filled the room in UN headquarters with more than 600-in person attendees and many more joining online. The event showcased how the Action Coalition on Technology and Innovation has leveraged its alignment with the Priority Theme on innovation and technological change to promote multi-stakeholder collaboration and mobilize knowledge, skills and resources towards concrete actions to bridge the gender digital divide.
Speakers celebrated the success of the Action Coalition in ensuring that its Blueprint was used as the foundation of the Report of the Secretary-General, and that the Report recognizes the active role the Action Coalition will play in supporting implementation of the Agreed Conclusions. Participants also urged actors from all sectors to join the call to place gender equality at the heart of the Global Digital Compact and make a Generation Equality commitment that harnesses the potential of technology and innovation to accelerate progress on the SDGs.
In her opening remarks, UN Women Executive Director, Ms. Sima Bahous, took the opportunity to publicly announce the Generation Equality Midpoint Moment, to be held on 17 September 2023. Ms. Bahous described it as a “rallying moment for gender equality advocates globally to reaffirm our commitment to Generation Equality.” The gathering will be co-hosted by the Government of Tanzania and is designed to ensure accountability, spotlight progress and galvanize expanded and new Generation Equality commitments.
Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown
To counter the pushback on gender equality, foster and fund feminist movements
CSW67 took place against the backdrop of continued backlash against women’s rights globally, from increased violence against women in the public space, to the gender impacts of the earthquakes in Syria and Turkiye, to the daily horror that women and girls face in emergency and crisis settings including in Afghanistan, Ukraine and Iran. The Commission expressed concern around the rising challenges and barriers to the full, equal and meaningful participation and leadership of civil society and women’s rights organizations such as violence, reprisals and diminishing funding.
In this context, on 13 March UN Women partnered with the Generation Equality Action Coalitions on Feminist Movements and Leadership and Gender-Based Violence to host a side event titled “Solutions to Strengthen Civic space & Women’s Digital Rights: Addressing the Pushback against Gender Equality”. Participants gathered to identify concrete strategies to strengthen civic space and women’s digital rights. The event’s message was clear: tackling pushback requires feminist movements that are coordinated, inclusive and well-resourced. The Action Coalition on Feminist Movements and Leadership was uplifted as a key vehicle for partners to take priority action to promote and protect space for feminist action.
The event clearly demonstrated the timeliness of Generation Equality as an initiative to build consensus and political will in today’s context of growing opposition to gender equality. It also exemplified the importance of Generation Equality not just as vehicle for accelerated resourcing but also for the provision of expanded multilateral spaces for collaboration and exchange across sectors to help tackle the pushback.
The Multi-Stakeholder Leadership Group gather during CSW67
Alongside CSW67, UN Women held its first in-person meet and greet for members of the Generation Equality Multi-Stakeholder Leadership Group. Representatives from the Governments of Mexico and France passed the torch on to Tanzanian Minister, Ms. Angellah Kairuki, to celebrate the Government of Tanzania as co-host of the upcoming Midpoint Moment. The Group also welcomed a new member: the Inclusive Generation Equality Collective. Members exchanged on their objectives, which are clearly aligned: maximizing the Midpoint Moment to ensure enhanced accountability, results and commitments for gender equality.