WOMEN IN DIGITAL INNOVATION: IWD 2023.
By: Dr. Rizwan Rumi
The theme for International Women’s Day, 8 March 2023 (IWD 2023) is, “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality”. This theme is aligned with the priority theme for the upcoming 67th Session of the commission on the status of women (CSW-67), “Innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls”. Under the theme “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality”, the United Nations Observance of International Women’s Day 2023 will highlight the need for inclusive and transformative technology and digital education.
Bringing women and other marginalized groups into technology results in more creative solutions and has greater potential for innovations that meet women’s needs and promote gender equality. Their lack of inclusion, by contrast, comes with massive costs. As per the UN women’s Gender snapshot 2022 report, women’s exclusion from the digital world has shaved $1 trillion from the gross domestic product of low- and middle-income countries in the last decade—a loss that will grow to $1.5 trillion by 2025 without action. Reversing this trend will require tackling the problem of online violence, which a study of 51 countries revealed 38 per cent of women had personally experienced. The United Nations Observance of International Women’s Day under the theme, “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality”, will be marked by a high-level event on Wednesday, 8 March 2023, 10:00 – 11:30 a.m. EST. The event will bring together technologists, innovators, entrepreneurs, and gender equality activists to provide an opportunity to highlight the role of all stakeholders in improving access to digital tools and be followed by a high-level panel discussion and musical performances. International Women’s Day, also known as IWD for short, grew out of the labour movement to become a recognized annual event by the United Nations (UN).
The seeds of it were planted in 1908 when 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter working hours, better pay and the right to vote. A year later, the Socialist Party of America declared the first National Woman’s Day.
The idea to make the day international came from a woman Clara Zetkin, a communist activist and advocate for women’s rights. She suggested the idea in 1910 at an International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen. There were 100 women there, from 17 countries, and they unanimously agreed to her suggestion.
It was first celebrated in 1911, in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. The centenary was celebrated in 2011, so this year we’re technically celebrating the 111th International Women’s Day.
Things were made official in 1975 when the United Nations started celebrating the day. The first theme adopted by the UN (in 1996) was “Celebrating the Past, Planning for the Future”.
International Women’s Day has become a date to celebrate how far women have come in society, politics and economics, while the political roots of the day mean strikes and protests are organized to raise awareness of continued inequality.
International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women, who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.
The world has made unprecedented advances, but no country has achieved gender equality. It is a day when women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political.
Since those early years, International Women’s Day has assumed a new global dimension for women in developed and developing countries alike. The growing international women’s movement, which has been strengthened by four global United Nations women’s conferences, has helped make the commemoration a rallying point to build support for women’s rights and participation in the political and economic arenas.
With thanks to UNWOMEN.
(The author is a freelancer. [email protected])