United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for action to reduce the connectivity gap, as an effort to realize the potential of technology to advance gender equality.
“We must break down the barriers that keep women and girls offline,” Guterres said in remarks delivered by his chef de cabinet Courtenay Rattray to a UN special event celebrating International Women’s Day, which falls on March 8.
Under the theme “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality,” the UN observance of International Women’s Day this year highlights the need for inclusive and transformative technology and digital education.
Guterres pointed out that three billion people are still unconnected to the Internet, with the majority of them women and girls in developing countries.
“We must connect everyone, everywhere by 2030, because leaving no one behind means leaving no one offline,” he said.
Guterres noted that women today make up less than one third of the workforce across science, technology, engineering and maths, and in cutting edge fields like artificial intelligence, just one in five professionals is a woman.
“We must increase women’s participation and leadership in these fields, through broader recruitment pipelines, using quotas if necessary,” he said.
The UN chief also underscored the need to make the online world safe for women and girls.
He warned that many parts of the Internet are becoming “toxic amplifiers of hate, abuse, and harassment,” with the the number one targets being women and girls.
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