In an effort to achieve gender equality and guarantee the right to education for women and girls everywhere, Pakistan has called for closing the digital gender gap, as the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) continued its discussion on women’s issues.
Nilofar Bakhtiar, chair of the National Commission on the Status of Women said, “it is time to build resilient inclusive and peaceful societies where no one is left behind, not even our women with disabilities,” in order to prevent a repeat of the brave but tragic story of Malala Yousafzai.
The session, which runs from March 6 to 17, is focused on the theme “Innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls”.
In her remarks, Bakhtiar, the Pakistani delegate, said despite national and international efforts, the digital gender gap was growing — particularly between developed and developing countries, and within developing countries.
Calling for transformative action, she underlined the need to mobilize resources and technical assistance to support millions of women and girls who have missed out on the right to an education — in particular, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the impacts of the global climate change crisis. In 2021, it was estimated that 11 million girls would never return to school, adding to the staggering 130 million girls who were already out of school before the pandemic hit.
“Surely, these alarming numbers call for transformative actions by the international community,” Bakhtiar added.
The Pakistani delegate said there was also an urgent need to raise awareness for greater female enrollment in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)-related studies and the removal of existing gender biases in curricula and parental preferences.
In addition, she said, the projection of female role models in technology and digital fields can inspire women and girls to pursue careers in these areas.
Bakhtiar also urged governments, businesses and social media companies to promote digital safety and security to prevent harassment online.
In addition, the Pakistani delegate called for providing universal access to broadband connectivity for teachers, students and schools by making internet accessible to everyone without cost.