Harnessing technology to promote gender justice
(LWI) - Bridging the digital gender gap will be the focus of this year’s session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) which takes place at the United Nations in New York from 6 to 17 March. A 32-member delegation from the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) is attending, in person and online, to bring grassroots perspectives on using technology to work for gender justice in both local and global contexts.
Delegates from different LWF member churches and country programs will discuss common challenges and best practices as part of this 67th CSW session. They will lobby government representatives and work with partner organizations to promote the theme of “Innovation, technological change and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.”
LWF’s Advocacy Officer for Gender Justice Sikhonzile Ndlovu, who is jointly leading the delegation says: “We are here to make a strong statement about the urgency to bridge the digital gender divide and ensure that women and girls participate as equals in technological innovation. Drawing from the work of our member churches and country programs, we will also showcase some best practices in utilizing information and communications technology (ICT) to promote gender equality.
On 9 March, LWF will be teaming up with ecumenical partners including ACT Alliance, Bread for the World, Christian Aid, DanChurchAid, Finn Church Aid, Norwegian Church Aid, and the World Council of Churches to host a side event entitled ‘A Phone of my own: sexual and economic empowerment in times of crisis’. On the following day, LWF will host an event showcasing ways of harnessing digital technologies to end sexual and gender-based violence.
Ndlovu says the COVID-19 pandemic led to an increase in gender-based violence and discrimination faced by women in countries around the world. At the same time, it highlighted the unequal access to technological innovation and the internet, determined by financial resources. While children in wealthier parts of the world switched to e-learning during the lockdown, she notes, millions of girls in the developing world were left behind.
Our main priority here is to add the vital voice of faith to the CSW negotiations.
Christine Mangale, director of the Lutheran Office for World Community in New York.
At the weekend, Christian and other faith-based organizations came together for an ecumenical event, which included worship and discussion of effective engagement strategies, as well as refining key messaging ahead of the global event. UN officials underlined the importance of this year’s CSW in helping to establish a global framework on crucial issues of privacy, protection and technological innovation.
The work of the LWF delegates at CSW is closely coordinated by the Lutheran Office for World Community (LOWC), headed by its new director Christine Mangale. She explains: “Our main priority here is to add the vital voice of faith to the CSW negotiations through mission visits, side events, as well as official oral and written statements. As LOWC we support our delegates to engage effectively with governments before, during and after the annual CSW sessions.”