Let’s Light up Women’s Digital Equality this International Women’s Day!

The UN General Assembly was awash in a sea of blue on Wednesday as some 1,800 people gathered to mark International Women’s Day, which this year focused on the need for inclusive and transformative technology and digital education. 

Many attendees wore suits, scarves or other items of clothing in shades that spanned from periwinkle to indigo, in tribute to women working in tech, a sector that remains overwhelmingly male. 

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“I see this room seldom so packed and so full of energy. It is a clear indication of the noble goals that we are all celebrating and representing today,” Assembly President Csaba Kőrösi said in his opening address. 

Tech jobs on the rise 

In joining the call for greater gender inclusion in tech and innovation, Mr. Kőrösi highlighted the connection to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which provide the blueprint to a just and equitable future by 2030.   

He said that by mid-century, 75 per cent of jobs will be related to science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM). However, women comprise just 30 per cent of the workforce in the 20 largest global tech companies in the world today. 

Untapped vast potential 

Mr. Kőrösi stressed the need to intensify global efforts to achieve SDG 5 on gender equality “and to unshackle the underused potential of the half of humanity.” 

“According to some evaluations, the exclusion of women from the digital world has shaved $1 trillion from the GDP of the low-and middle-income countries in the last decade,” he said. 

“Worse, if women and other marginalized groups are not given sufficient access to technology, we leave untapped vast additional capabilities to solve the many challenges that we are facing.” 

Promise and perils 

Technology can also improve the lives of woman and girls around the world, as UN Secretary-General António Guterres observed in remarks to the event, delivered by his Chef de Cabinet, Courtenay Rattray. 

It can expand access to education, healthcare and financial services, and also open up new pathways into business and entrepreneurship. 

But realizing the promise of technology also means confronting its perils, requiring action that includes closing the so-called “connectivity gap”, as three billion people worldwide are still unconnected to the internet, mainly women and girls in developing countries. 

Break the barriers 

The Secretary-General called for breaking barriers that keep women and girls offline, such as stereotypes that discourage them from studying science and maths

Women’s leadership in STEM also must be increased, he added, while the internet needs to be made safe for women and girls, who are “the number one targets” of online hate, abuse and harassment.  

Ladies first 

The UN chief also pointed to good news, as women are at the forefront of making technology safer, more accessible, more inclusive and better regulated. 

UN Photo/Manuel Elías

Last September, Doreen Bogdan-Martin was elected to lead the UN’s specialized agency for information and communication technologies (ICTs), becoming the first woman Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in its 158-year history. 

“Times are changing,” she said in her keynote address, sharing stories of how young women are using STEM, for example to increase education access for the visually impaired and to help indigenous communities fight climate change. 

Ms. Martin reported on global momentum towards achieving universal connectivity, noting that an ITU-led coalition has mobilized more than $17 billion for “digital gender equality”.  

“We also have a unique opportunity…to ensure gender equality happens in our lifetime and not in 300 years,” she said, adding that digital technology can help pave the way. “No more excuses for not having digital gender equality now, everywhere.”

She challenged countries to get more girls into STEM, to ensure equal access to digital technologies and opportunities, and “to give women a seat at the digital table and make gender equality a must in every organization.”

UN Photo/Manuel Elías

Sima Bahous, Executive Director of UN Women, delivers a speech to mark International Women’s Day 2023.

‘Digital rights are women’s rights’

For Sima Bahous, Executive Director at UN Women, technology and innovation are game changers that offer huge potential benefits.

“If used wisely they can bring us back on track for the SDGs and a more peaceful world. If misused, they can derail our efforts. This is the choice,” she cautioned.

Grasping the opportunities provided by tech, and avoiding potential harms, demands collective action by Governments, civil society, and the private sector, she added.

“Let us assert that digital rights are women’s rights,” said Ms. Bahous, drawing applause from the room.  “We need to fix the institutions and the harmful gender stereotyping surrounding technology, innovation and education that fail women and girls, and continue to do so.”



  1. Isn’t it surprising that despite the increasing importance of tech jobs, the representation of women in the tech sector is still significantly low? How can we ensure more gender equality in digital fields?

    1. It is indeed concerning that the gender gap in the tech sector persists despite the growing demand for tech-related jobs. To achieve more gender equality in digital fields, we must focus on implementing inclusive policies, providing mentorship opportunities, and fostering a supportive environment for women in technology.

  2. How can we ensure that more women are encouraged to pursue careers in the tech industry, especially in leadership roles?

    1. To encourage more women to pursue careers in the tech industry, particularly in leadership roles, we must provide mentorship programs, networking opportunities, and targeted training initiatives. Creating inclusive and supportive environments is crucial in unlocking the full potential of women in technology. Let’s pave the way for a more diverse and gender-equal tech sector!

  3. As a woman in tech myself, I fully support the push for greater gender inclusion in the industry. It’s time to tap into the vast potential of women in STEM fields and light up a brighter future for all. #WomenInTech #DigitalEquality

  4. Does the article mention any specific initiatives that are being taken to increase women’s inclusion in the tech industry?

    1. Yes, the article mentions the call for greater gender inclusion in tech and innovation by Mr. Kőrösi, who highlighted the connection to Sustainable Development Goals. With tech jobs on the rise, it’s crucial to tap into the vast potential of women in the tech industry for a more equitable future.

  5. As a woman in tech myself, I strongly believe that it is crucial to empower more women with the skills and opportunities in the digital world. I applaud the focus on inclusive technology and digital education this International Women’s Day, and I hope to see concrete actions taken to bridge the gender gap in the tech industry.

  6. As a woman in tech, I wholeheartedly support the push for greater gender inclusion in the industry. It’s time to tap into the vast potential of untapped female talent and work towards a more balanced and diverse tech sector. Let’s light up women’s digital equality this International Women’s Day!

  7. As a woman in the tech industry, I strongly believe that supporting and encouraging more women to pursue careers in STEM fields is crucial for achieving true gender equality. It’s inspiring to see initiatives like this focusing on digital education and technology, paving the way for a more inclusive future. Let’s continue to push for progress and empower women in the digital world! #WomenInTech

  8. Do you think the current initiatives are sufficient to bridge the gender gap in the tech industry and meet the targets for women’s digital equality by 2030?

    1. Yes, I believe the current initiatives are a step in the right direction, but more concerted efforts are needed to bridge the gender gap in the tech industry and achieve the targets for women’s digital equality by 2030.

  9. As a woman working in the tech industry, I strongly believe that it is crucial to prioritize digital education and technology equality for women. The statistics presented are alarming, and it’s clear that there is a long way to go in achieving true gender inclusion in the tech sector. Let’s continue to push for change and create more opportunities for women in STEM fields.

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