Women in Tech: You Have the Power to Progress Global Development

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Technology really does transform lives, as the UN's Commission on the Status of Women discussed earlier this month. By Mia Jamili (Digital Projects & Communications Strategist, Salesforce)

In honor of the 58th session of the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women this month, the National Board of the U.S. National Committee for UN Women and UN Women-Metro NY Chapter recently held an event at the Consulate General of Hungary in New York in celebration of women leaders advancing women and girls in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

The CSW

The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) was established by the United Nations Economic and Social Council in 1946 to be “the principal global policy-making body dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women.” This year’s focus is on the issue of the prevalent gender gap when it comes to equal access and inclusion, participation, and leadership in science and technology all over the world.

Celebrating those helping to end the gender disparity in STEM, the individuals who were commended at the event for their leadership in science and technology were Reshma Saujani, Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, and Dr. Laurie Leshin, a six-year NASA executive, member of the science team for the Mars Curiosity Rover mission, and Dean of the School of Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Organizations L’Oreal (L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science and L’Oréal USA For Women in Science Fellowship) and Zonta International (Amelia Earhart Fellow Program) received recognition as well for their extensive efforts to encourage and provide support and resources to women in the STEM fields.

This event is just one of many initiatives we need to take in the global movement for gender equality.

Women's Empowerment Through Tech

UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Nocuka’s fervent message that “ICTs and the internet [are] a powerful means in advancing women’s rights and empowerment” was prevalent throughout the session. As we reap the benefits that technology and having access to and being skilled in technology have granted us, it is absolutely imperative that we think about women and girls who have not yet been able to also make the most opportunities out of or perhaps even experience these privileges.

The third Millennium Development Goal was set to ensure that all women are free from poverty and discrimination, can achieve uninhibited economic empowerment, and can hold the capability of becoming an active agent of progress in their community. For thousands, there remains a digital divide and a lack of quality tech literacy and skills training and decent employment available. And it is most effective when both public and private resources are set aside for global policy and programming committed to advancing all women and to the continual evaluation of progress on gender equality within all institutions.

Without a doubt, every woman in tech holds some form of responsibility and capacity to contribute to this movement. More women in technology means more women who can use technology to advocate for issues affecting women, to positively influence business and society, and to build things that matter. We must help develop the necessary policies, resources, networks, and commitments now if we want to realize the success of the post-2015 global development agenda in our lifetimes and for future generations to come.

What do you think are the next steps forward for empowering women through technology?

Mia_JamiliAbout the writer: Mia is a digital projects strategist with experience in computing and new media, public policy, and global development. Formerly at Salesforce and IDG Entertainment, she will work on tech and social good while on the digital team for U.S. Fund for UNICEF. Follow her @miajamili.