Spotlight: Empowering Girls Through Technology

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On 6th March 2018, Webster University Geneva’s Media Communication Department and Webster’s Centre for Creativity and Innovation celebrated International Women’s Day with a special event on the theme of empowering girls through technology.

Veronica Birga (OHCHR) opened the event by highlighting the creative potential for technology to enable a wide range of human rights for girls. Gender discrimination remains despite some progress since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was inaugurated 70 years ago. Technology can help ensure that girls are placed at the centre of discussions.

Speakers from the ITU, Plan International and UNICEF, then shared diverse examples of how their organisations are using technology to empower girls.

Anya Gass presented the innovative online Girls’ Rights Platform recently launched by Plan International to advocate for girls’ rights at an international policy level. The tools include a UN debate tracker to help hold state’s accountable for their promises to support girls’ rights, a database that charts the language being used to address girls’ rights in international law and policies and an online training course.

Drawing on her humanitarian experience in Nepal and Syria, Hanaa Singer described some of the multiple ways that UNICEF is using technology to help and empower girls in these challenging settings. Technology is being used to boost girls’ health and education. In besieged areas, Facebook was used to communicate with mothers about vaccination campaigns and Facebook and WhatsApp informed students about exam times and also helped them with revision. UNICEF also uses technology to give a voice to children; online surveys enable them to understand children’s experiences of sensitive topics such as GBV and to develop responsive programming.

Roxanna Widmer-Iliescu stressed the importance of building digital literacy given the increased prominence of technology in everyday and professional life. She presented the work being done by the ITU to combat some of the negative gender stereotypes that deter girls from entering ICT careers. The International Girls in ICT Day reached around 300,000 girls in 166 countries last year and will be celebrated again in April this year.

Webster University Geneva would like to thank the OHCHR, the ITU, Plan International and UNICEF for their collaboration in making this a successful celebration of girls’ rights and gender equality.

The live stream of the event is available on Webster University Geneva’s Facebook page.