Deep Diving into
an equitable Digital Future:
Learnings from CSW67
By Joëlle Kabisoso | June 13, 2023
In March 2023, several delegates from OCIC’s networks travelled to New York to participate in the United Nations 67th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW67). This year’s theme was “Innovation and Technological Change, and Education in the Digital Age for Achieving Gender Equality and the Empowerment of all Women and Girls.”
The week’s events were filled with thought-provoking content from various speakers and field experts relating to measures and tools for the inclusion of women and girls in the digital age. In highlighting the critical need to accelerate action towards achieving gender equality, I learned more about the role of international conventions and national standards, as well as the participation of civil society in policy making to counter gender stereotypes and increase the number of girls and women in STEM fields.
A recurring theme was the focus on transparency and accountability in the digital age, and the reassurance that new and secured commitments identified in the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action would move from recommendation to action, and expand on establishing systems with specific outcomes that target policies, laws, and data collection.
In one of the sessions I attended, panelists shared how current AI algorithms are trained to discriminate against women and girls through ranking systems that classify content related to women’s health, empowerment, and gender-based violence as toxic, or unsuitable for the Internet. This is in stark contrast to commonly posted content on men’s sports that were ranked low on the toxicity scale. By the end of the session, it was concluded that to fully have inclusive gender equality in the digital age, greater consideration must be placed on the design and maintenance of AI algorithms to ensure a genderless, unbiased system.
Calls to action expressed throughout the week included:
- Developing international standards and guidelines to safeguard women and girls’ experience online and offline;
- Engaging rural women and girls in the design of programs, policies and systems that impact their livelihood;
- Feminising the digital economy; and
- Leveraging the power of AI to narrow gender equality gaps.
This being my first experience at CSW, I found it overwhelming, yet deeply enriching. As a young leader looking to become immersed into the gender equality space, I feel grateful to have been given the opportunity to spend a week learning about different resolutions and approaches to gender equality being implemented around the world.
Upon my return to Canada, I hosted a summit called #MaybeNextTime: Reframing Approaches to Sexual Violence through my organization, Sisters in Sync. At this summit we spoke about proactively identifying approaches to reduce crime, prevent instances of revictimization and increase disclosure rates among Black girls and women, especially within cyberspaces. My participation at CSW allowed me to share with our attendees the realities of cybercrime and the role AI plays in further victimizing women and girls, in particular Black women and girls. We dedicated a segment on cybersecurity in an attempt to encourage active participation within the field so that we can be represented not only at senior management level, but also in the way that AI and algorithms are designed, developed, and ranked.
Joëlle is an award-winning community engagement coordinator, workshop facilitator and social entrepreneur. She is a graduate of Brescia University College, where she holds a BA in family studies with a certificate in family mediation from York University. She is the founder and executive director of Sisters in Sync, a non-profit with a mission to bridge the gap between the lived experience of Black trauma survivors. She specializes in gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. For her advocacy work, Joëlle has been the recipient of many awards such as Top 100 Black Women to Watch in Canada, 2022 L’Oréal Paris Women of Worth, and 2021 YWCA Trailblazer award amongst more. She hopes to continue to create spaces for Black trauma survivors to have their voices heard and to transform policies that currently impede on one’s fair and equitable access to justice.