Women and girls are being left behind

The math is simple: Without the insights and creativity of half the world, science and technology will fulfill just half their potential.

I am here to say loud and clear: The United Nations stands with women and girls everywhere.

The Deputy-Secretary-General and the Executive Director of UN Women recently visited Afghanistan with a clear message for the authorities: Women and girls have fundamental human rights, and we will never give up fighting for them.

United Nations Country Teams and humanitarian agencies around the world are helping to provide practical support and care for women in crisis situations. Gender equality and investment in girls and women are central to all our humanitarian and development work.

Our political and peacekeeping missions continue to promote women’s participation in all peace processes, and to ensure women’s priorities are integral to our political work. This is the only route to sustainable, enduring peace.

Let’s be clear: Global frameworks are not working for the world’s women and girls. They need to change.

As technology races ahead, women and girls are being left behind.

The math is simple: Without the insights and creativity of half the world, science and technology will fulfill just half their potential.

Three billion people are still unconnected to the internet, the majority of them women and girls in developing countries.

In Least Developed Countries, just 19 percent of women are online.

Globally, girls and women make up just one-third of students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

In the tech industry, men outnumber women two to one. But in Artificial Intelligence, only about 1 out of five workers is a woman. And artificial intelligence is shaping our future world. Let’s hope it will not be shaped in a totally gender-biased way.

The Covid-19 pandemic magnified inequalities in access to the internet and intensified the dangers women and girls face online.

Misogynistic disinformation and misinformation flourish on social media platforms.

So-called “gender-trolling” is specifically aimed at silencing women and forcing them out of public life.

The stories may be fake, but the damage done is very real.

Centuries of patriarchy, discrimination, and harmful stereotypes have created a huge gender gap in science and technology.

Women account for just three percent of Nobel Prize winners in science categories.

Three years ago, Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna made history as the first all-women team to win a Nobel prize in science. Ever.

Teams of men have shared the prize 172 times.

Big data is the “new gold,” and the foundation of today’s political and business decisions. But it often ignores gender differences — or turns a blind eye to women altogether — resulting in products and services that bake in gender inequality from the start. We see gender bias algorithms proliferate everywhere.

We cannot let the Silicon Valleys of our world become Death Valleys for women’s rights.

We need the full contributions of all, for a future in which humanity controls technology rather than the other way around.

Promoting women’s full contributions to science, technology and innovation is not an act of charity or a favor to women. It is a must and it benefits everyone.

When women get medical services online, their families and communities are healthier.

When women access online banking and resources, without bias, they start businesses that benefit their societies and economies.

When women have access to safe digital platforms, they build communities that can change the world. Look at the #MeToo movement.

And when women scientists and technologists tackle global problems, they multiply the chance of finding solutions.

Many technology leaders, especially women, know that inequality and exclusion are a moral and commercial dead end.

Women and girls are leading efforts to make science and technology accessible, inclusive, and safe.

And in many countries, girls are studying science, technology and math in record numbers. This must be followed everywhere.

Women and girls will not be silenced.

Their demands for their rights and freedoms echo around the globe.


Excerpts from the UN Secretary-General’s remarks to the Commission on the Status of Women, 6 March 2023.

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