International Women's Day March 08, 2023: Strengthening gender equality and women's empowerment through innovation and digital technology.

“Convinced that digital technologies offer new perspectives for the empowerment of women and girls globally, Gabdo Ouattara campaigns to end all violence against women and girls, whether in the real world or virtual.

She says digital is not free from violence, although it is a powerful tool for women and girls to become agents of change. This is why she claims through UNFPA’s Bodyright campaign, the right to protection against digital violence and to take virtual gender-based violence seriously. “

This year the theme of March 8, International Women’s Day is: “For an inclusive digital world: innovation and technologies for gender equality”.

Digital technologies are a great opportunity to empower Malian women and girls and strengthen their contribution to community development. These technologies allow women to have easier access to information, knowledge and employment opportunities as well as to communicate more and strengthen their advocacy for the realization and respect of their rights.

This international theme is also an opportunity for all of us to value and encourage the role and leadership of Malian women and girls in the promotion of transformative technologies and digital education.

That said, this theme brings us back to the sad reality of the many gender inequalities in the field of digital technologies and the vulnerabilities of women and girls to expose themselves to technology-facilitated gender-based violence.

In Mali, due to their social status, women are disadvantaged in terms of their participation in decision-making in general, including in the field of technology and innovation. Data from the 2018 DHS show this clearly: only 10% of women participate in major household decision-making, while 63% of women were not involved in any decision-making.

In terms of access to these digital technologies, the high illiteracy rate of Malian women (72% of women are illiterate, against 53% of men) and a low education rate (66% of Malian women have no level of education), as well as purchasing power (barely 55% of women, against 90% of men), said they had a job (during the 7 days before the DHS survey), limits their social, physical access and finance to these technologies. Moreover, in the last 12 months, only 14% of women compared to 36% of men said they had used the internet (DHS, 2018). These socio-economic factors explain this digital access gap, clearly based on gender.

Access to digital technologies also leads to gender-based violence. To help fight technology-facilitated violence, UNFPA Mali launched the Bodyright campaign last November.

This campaign highlights the fact that corporate logos and intellectual property rights are better promoted and better protected online than images of human bodies. It expresses the fact that women and girls, especially those from minorities and marginalized groups, face a lot of violence online. This campaign aims to mobilize policy makers, businesses and civil society in the fight against this form of GBV.

UNFPA invites you to support the healthy and safe inclusion and exposure of Malian women and girls to digital technologies, to respect their rights to information, their right to dignity and to be free from violence, but also to strengthen their access to information including information on their health, family planning, and empowerment opportunities.

On this Women’s Day, join us in working together to create an inclusive digital world: innovation and technologies for gender equality.

Happy Women’s Day celebration to all Malian women and girls,

Yves Sassenrath

Resident Representative UNFPA Mali

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Deborah Acker

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