UN Commission on the Status of Women: Switzerland highlights importance of digitalisation for gender equality

Press releases, 06.03.2023

The 67th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) opens on 6 March 2023 in New York with the theme 'Innovation and technological change – education in the digital age'. Switzerland's particular focus is on initiatives to promote women's and girls' access to technology and innovation, and to guard against cyber violence. The president of the Swiss Confederation, Alain Berset, will be heading the Swiss delegation and will speak at the CSW on 6 March. On 7 March, he will deliver a speech to the UN Security Council on women, peace and security.

Digital technologies offer opportunities for progress towards gender equality. But they also carry the risk of placing certain parts of society at a disadvantage. This is because not all people have access to digital applications and because the digital space also offers potential for discrimination (e.g. cyber violence, discriminatory algorithms). This year's CSW meeting in New York from 6 to 17 March will therefore address the question of how technological change can be used to achieve gender equality goals and promote the rights of women and girls.

Access to technology and innovation, protection from violence on the internet
A key topic is access for women and girls to training and careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Today, women are significantly underrepresented in STEM fields, including in Switzerland. Increasing the proportion of women in all areas of public life and thus also in the field of technical innovation is one of the prerequisites for gender equality. At the same time, undesirable consequences of digitalisation must be dealt with head-on. In Switzerland, for example, a majority of those affected by violence on the internet are female, and in the case of sexual violence in the digital sphere, as many as 90% of those affected are female. Everywhere, female journalists, human rights defenders and politicians are particularly affected by attacks. Strengthening the fight against and prevention of gender-based violence on the internet is therefore hugely important.

Speech at the UN Security Council on women, peace and security
On 7 March, the president of the Swiss Confederation, Alain Berset, will address the UN Security Council. Switzerland is a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for the period 2023–24. During the session on women, peace and security, the Swiss president will speak about the importance of women's participation in political decision-making and peace processes. The agenda, which consists of ten UN Security Council resolutions, recognises and strengthens the role of women in all efforts to achieve lasting peace and calls for the protection of women's rights. The implementation of the agenda still needs to be strengthened worldwide. Switzerland is implementing the agenda's commitments also through its fourth National Action Plan.

Embedding the commitment in the Swiss Gender Equality Strategy
Switzerland is committed to women's rights and gender equality in its domestic and foreign policy, including in the digital sphere. This year, Switzerland is chairing the negotiations on a set of Council of Europe rules on artificial intelligence. In cooperation with the OSCE, Switzerland is working to ensure the safety of female journalists. As part of its international development cooperation, Switzerland is supporting numerous projects that promote digital skills and give women access to digital innovations such as financial services tools.

With its Gender Equality Strategy 2030, adopted by the Federal Council in 2021, Switzerland has for the first time a comprehensive, national strategy for gender equality. Among other things, it includes the development of digital tools for analysing equal pay (Logib).

Switzerland at the CSW

The CSW is the only UN body that deals exclusively with issues of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. It reports to the UN Economic and Social Council. Switzerland is currently (2021–24) one of 45 CSW member states.

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