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Lack of women limits potential of tech says UN Women

The underrepresentation of women in tech limits the digital empowerment of women and girls while also hindering the transformative potential of technology. Preventing violence in the digital age is crucial to gender equality, UN Women says in a statement about digital technology impact on diversity. 

“The negative impact of technology-facilitated violence can be widespread and far-reaching, therefore taking steps to prevent it and ensure everyone, regardless of gender, can safely participate in the digital world should be a priority.”

“Women and girls remain underrepresented across the creation, use, and regulation of technology. Only 28% of engineering graduates, 22% of artificial intelligence workers, and less than one third of tech sector employees globally are women. This limits the digital empowerment of women and girls while also hindering the transformative potential of technology.”

UN Women says that many emerging digital technologies remain widely unregulated. 

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“Effective measures to tackle the challenges associated with the use of such technologies are essential, particularly those that have the potential to have adverse impacts on gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.” “Online service providers should proactively mitigate the risk of technology misuse against women and girls when creating and updating technology products as well as prioritizing ethics, safety, and privacy in design phase of these products.”

UN Women says that technology-facilitated gender-based violence takes many forms, including cyberbullying, online harassment, hate speech, doxing, intimate image abuse, trolling, or deep fakes.

“Women, girls, and gender-non-conforming individuals are more likely to be targeted and experience more severe and lasting consequences because of their gender. Studies across the world show that 16 to 58% of women and girls have been targeted by violence online.”

“The impacts of this type of violence extend beyond the digital sphere, entrenching inequalities and posing a significant threat to women’s rights and safety both online and off.”

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To effectively prevent online and technology-facilitated violence, it is crucial to understand its specificities and its impact on women and girls.

  • Online and technology-facilitated violence have unique characteristics that set them apart from other forms of gender-based violence due to their speed, scale, and impact. Such abuse can quickly cross borders, making it difficult to prevent and stop. Harmful and threatening content and images are disseminated, shared, or threatened to be shared by others, violence and abuse are repeated, and victims or survivors are retraumatised.
  • A 2021 UN Women study in the Arab States region found that 60% of women internet users had been exposed to online violence that year. A European study found that women are 27 times more likely to face harassment online than men, and another analysis found that 92%en reported that online violence negatively influences their wellbeing.
  • It negatively influences the voices of women in the public eye. A study on online violence against women journalists found that 73% of women journalists have experienced online violence. Research drawing from interviews with women in the public eye across 15 Latin American and Caribbean countries found that 80% of respondents restricted their online participation due to fears about expressing their opinions on certain topics and concerns for their physical safety and lives. Another study found that 46% of women parliamentarians in Africa were subjected to online sexist attacks.
  • Young women, girls, LGBTIQ+ persons, women with disabilities and racialized, minoritized and migrant groups of women are more likely to experience more extreme and frequent forms of digital violence.
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