IT for Change was invited to present an expert paper at the Expert Group Meeting convened by UN Women in preparation for CSW 67, with its priority theme of “Innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls”.
The starting point of this paper, titled 'Innovation to Tackle Gender Inequality - A Back-to-basics Roadmap', is that an 'add and stir' approach that views gender inclusion as an external ethical scaffolding to market-led innovation is insufficient to address gender bias, discrimination, exploitation, and exclusion in the digital paradigm. The contradictions of making corporatized innovation systems in the digital space gender-responsive, accountable, and transformative, implore a deeper question to restore the essential public nature of innovation as a collective endeavor for social development. The need of the hour, therefore, is to evolve a robust techno-institutional blueprint to build and sustain public digital innovation for gender equality through concerted global-to-local action.
The key elements of this blueprint are:
1. Investments in technical infrastructure development, specifically:
- Technical protocols that – as the building blocks for innovation – protect and preserve the public trust necessary for the participation of small/less powerful actors in the economy and society
- Platform, data, and AI public goods necessary for social equity and inclusion
2. Development of institutional frameworks for:
- Appropriate incentives for decentralized digital innovation
- Rules to prevent the capture of value propositions in digital innovation ecosystems
- Digital rights as the basis for meaningful participation in digital society and its innovations
We also submitted a written statement to CSW67. The objective of our input was to exhort the UN and other multilateral bodies for a gender-transformative restructuring of the digital society and economy against the backdrop of growing gendered exploitation within data capitalism, fueled in the last few years by the Covid-19 pandemic.