The sixty-seventh session of the Commission on the Status of Women took place from 6 to 17 March 2023 under the priority theme: innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.
The INERELA+ Acting Executive Director Munya Mandipaza joined hands with representatives of Member States, UN entities, and ECOSOC-accredited non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from all regions of the world to reframe technology and innovation as a powerful accelerator for development, human rights, and women’s rights.
INERELA+ is implementing a project in South Africa, Burundi, and Ghana with the support of the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women (UN Trust Fund) where faith leaders leverage their influence to end violence against women and girls and increase access to services for survivors through a proven faith-based methodology.
We have experienced that in the digital age, violence against women and girls is exacerbated by information and communication technologies and it has taken new forms (from revenge porn to zoom bombing, doxing to cyber harassment, etc.). Online and technology-facilitated violence can lead to real threats and physical attacks that have disastrous short and long-term consequences on the lives of women and girls.
INERELA+ just like civil society and women’s rights organizations have adapted and equipped themselves to be able to prevent and respond to this emerging phenomenon. In addition to our advocacy work, we have developed services for survivors of online violence and have raised awareness through campaigns and sensitization activities about the risks of using the internet and technology-based interventions. As much as we understand that technology can facilitate threats of violence, we believe that technology is a crucial tool for prevention, monitoring, and response to violence against women and girls. INERELA+ has updated its website and utilised various media, online tools, and apps to advocate for women and girls’ right to live a life free from violence and to create new safe spaces for women to connect, share and learn or receive support services. We have used technologies to collect crucial data and to report all forms of violence against women and girls. Additionally, we have used digital activism and online advocacy campaigns to achieve our goals and amplify women’s voices. Throughout the CSW67 the presence, interventions, and evidence brought together by civil society and women’s rights organizations shed light on the key role that they play in the work to prevent and end conventional and emerging forms of violence against women. Civil society and women’s rights organizations need to have a seat at the decision-making table and must be part of the solution for women and girls to feel safe.
The Commission recognized that despite the opportunities, there is a need to address challenges associated with the misuse of new and emerging digital technologies which can be designed and/or used to incite violence, hatred, discrimination, and hostility, inter alia, racism, xenophobia, negative stereotyping and stigmatization against women and girls. CSW67 came to an end with the acknowledgment of the critical role of innovation and technology in the digital age in achieving gender equality and ending violence against women and girls.