Technology and Innovation for Gender Equality
To be advantageous in a 4th Industrial Revolution shaped by technology, as noted by the AC for Technology and Innovation, we must ensure that we address the gender data gap. A substantial lack of data on the lived experiences, opinions and perspectives of women and gender-diverse people results in inaccurate funding and policy initiatives intending to support women on a global scale. A 2017 report found data is either completely missing or irregular when it comes to tracking the Sustainable Development Goals. When it comes to gender-related SDGs, UN Women’s 2019 Women Count Report found only 31% of gender-specific SDG indicators can be reliably monitored at the global level.
The connection between a lack of data on women, and consequential unreliability of funding and policy initiatives to progress women’s equality is evident: only 1% of gender-focused aid went to women-led organisations in 2016/2017. That meagre 1% is made even less effective by the fact that the bulk of it remained in “donor countries” and did not reach those in need on a local level.
At the close of a year defined by the COVID-19 pandemic when human rights authorities declared that gender-based violence and inequities in the workplace are as bad as they were 25 years ago, in 2021, it is more crucial than ever to get an accurate and comprehensive picture of how individuals around the world are being impacted by gender inequality. The post-pandemic “Global Reset” allows us an opportunity to give people from all contexts and walks of life the opportunity to define the issues affecting their lives and inform how we rebuild our systems and societies in an equitable way. The Global Count presents a platform to rebuild systems, institutions and establish policies that are more equitable. The GC is an opportunity to ensure the voices of women and gender-diverse people define what is needed when it comes to funding and policy-making decisions that will impact them.
Unable to take to the streets for its anniversary march in 2021, Women’s March Global and 60+ partner organizations launched the GC in lieu of the annual global event. The GC envisions that accessible, translatable gendered data can result in a radical shift in funding, policy, and programming when applied deliberately, transparently and with integrity. The GC was formed on the basis that the development of any agenda that does not include the perspectives, views and experiences of those who will be affected will fail to meet the need. Informed by the GC, stakeholders at the GEF can set policy and make funding decisions based on women’s definitions of the issues impacting them, the barriers to progress, and the organisations that are driving change.
The GC is designed to be made accessible technologically and linguistically, as well as cross-referenced with other studies through the Humanitarian Data Exchange. The mechanism with which this project seeks, communicates, and translates the opinions and perspectives of women and gender-diverse people on their empowerment is poised to hold the ACs at the GEF accountable.
The GC seeks to expand its approach to accountability and transparency by partnering AC leadership structures with invested tech companies to continue measuring progress on the Acceleration Plans for Gender Equality. This speaks directly to the AC for Tech and Innovation’s interests in ‘innovating finance mechanisms for a gender-diverse digital evolution.’ We envision data from the GC being used to hold stakeholders accountable to commitments made at the GEF. Our partnerships with Facebook and SurveyMonkey can be the beginning of the conversation about harnessing tech companies’ resources and the momentum of movements to create new solutions to old problems and ensure accountability to individual women all over the world.
Further, responses to the GC lends itself to the need for tech and innovation to advance gender equality. For example, a young woman aged between 18 and 24 from Pol-e-Khomri, Afghanistan, indicated that she sees technology as a driving force for change in her local area. She identified ‘Ending Violence, Harassment, and Abuse’ as a critical issue in her community, and identified technology as a barrier to progress. When asked, ‘What does progress for women’s human rights look like for you in 10 years?’, she responded: “Technology can be the cause of progress for awareness of our families and advancing human rights.”
This response evidences the motivations behind the AC for Technology and Innovation’s Actions, including Action 1: Bridge the Gender Gap in Digital Access and Competencies. Since Afghanistan’s national ban on internet access was lifted in 2002, technological developments have supported women’s empowerment. Shifts currently being observed in Afghanistan demonstrate that when women have access to technology, human rights awareness improves, they have a platform to advocate and build movements; access to information facilitates their education and empowerment. The GC seeks to expand on this notion.
In regards to the AC for Technology and Innovation’s motivation to make digital spaces safer, Facebook and invested tech companies have confirmed their interest in partnering with the GC to improve the platform to ensure women’s safety and protection. Facebook had no access to our data and we worked with them for the sole purposes of distributing our poll on their platform.