NEW YORK – The United Nations recently met to discuss the importance of utilizing technology for women’s empowerment worldwide. “Technology has enormous power to highlight and record human rights violations and to raise awareness so that we change mindsets and deal with violence at its roots,” said Deputy Secretary of the UN General Jan Eliasson, just days after Malala Day.
The United Nations observed Malala Day on July 12th in honor of the brave 16 year-old Pakistani girl Malala Yousafzai, who was shot for daring to attend school. Malala, along with hundreds of students from around the world, came together to rally for global access to quality education regardless of gender. Malala delivered a moving speech, which was not only heard by the hundreds of students present, but thousands all over the world. The Deputy Secretary General quantified the impact of Malala Day, saying “within minutes after she spoke, 24,000 unique accounts tweeted about Malala Day. Countless others also got the word out on social media in ways we can not measure. Hundreds of millions of people received her message in real time.” News of the event to raise awareness for gender equality and universal education continued to spread via social media in the hours and days after it was over.
Secretary General Jan Eliasson heads UNiTE to End Violence against Women, a campaign geared towards raising awareness, and ramping up the will and ability of policy makers to combat violence against women all over the world. Gender equality is a human right according to the United Nations, and empowering women is one of the UN Millennium Development Goals. Malala Day brought attention to the global problems of gender inequality, violence directed towards women, and the discrepancy between boys and girls attending school. “The state of girls’ education has improved significantly over the past decade. However, girls continue to lag behind their male counterparts in many areas of the world, in terms of access to education, completion of schooling, and acquisition of basic skills such as literacy,” according to the World Bank.
Technology is being used by women to connect with other women in their own communities and across the globe. “When we combine technology with young women we are making sure that they are not just empowered but also that they are able to contribute to the development of their society,” said Ahmad Alhendawi during an online forum, part of the UN’s “Innovate Your Future” campaign.
When women have access to mobile technology, online social media, and ICTs (information and communications technology) like Google +, they are able to report on human rights issues as they occur and to connect with other women to discuss solving problems in their societies. Technology of this kind gives women a platform to voice the issues that are important to them and to be heard all across the world.
– Jennifer Bills