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2023 International Women’s Day: What is the theme proposed by the UN this year?

Each year for International Women’s Day, the United Nations selects a theme. This years is “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality”

People take part in a demonstration ahead of the International Women's Day, in Istanbul, Turkey, March 5, 2023. REUTERS/Kemal Aslan

In December, UN Women announced that the 2023 International Women’s Day theme would be “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality.” The theme was selected because of its connections to that of the 67th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), which will take place between 6 and 18 March.

UN Women also decided to focus on technology to honor “the women and girls who are championing the advancement of transformative technology and digital education.” The agency also noted that their research has identified “growing” social and economic “inequalities [...] in the context of digital skills and access to technologies.” The events hosted by UN Women over the coming weeks will examine what they call the “digital gender divide.”

UN encourages investment to increase women’s participation in STEM

To encourage wealthy governments to allocate funds to address this issue, UN Women has called attention to the economic loss resulting from excluding women and girls in the digital space and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields. According to the 2022 UN Women’s Gender Snapshot, “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.

Attacking the root issues that perpetuate gender inequality

Some feminists take issue with the UN’s approach citing much more violent manifestations of patriarchy than an economic loss.

According to the International Labor Organization, women comprise around seventy percent of the global poor and over two-thirds of the world’s illiterate people. These two factors are barriers to women’s integration into the digital economy and STEM occupations. Becoming an engineer, let alone attending secondary school, is much harder when you live in extreme poverty and are not provided an elementary education. Targeting resources to build lasting institutions to increase access to quality education and an economic systems that ensure no persons are subjected to the devastation of extreme poverty would have incredible benefits for innovation.

But aside from the benefits for the global public, taking these actions would mark a new path that centers respect for basic human rights, which institutions like the United Nations claim to care about. A few additional scholarships for women in STEM or short-term funding for NGOs working to increase access to primary education are inadequate responses to the systemic marginalization from STEM and digital sectors. However, for those kinds of discussions and debates, we may have to wait until next year when the theme for the 68th CSW will be “Accelerating the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls by addressing poverty and strengthening institutions and financing with a gender perspective.”


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