As delivered by Estonia on behalf of the group of Nordic-Baltic countries
I have the honour to deliver this intervention on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic countries – Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and my own country, Estonia.
Information and communication technology is revolutionizing the world by providing tools for entrepreneurship, education, employment, health and information. ICT could and should serve as a tool for enhancing the human rights of all. For that to happen we need to overcome the growing gender digital divide.
Improved access to the internet benefits not only women, but also their communities and the economy. The gender digital divide is both a consequence and cause of violations of women’s rights. Policies to improve internet access need to be comprehensive and gender responsive, addressing the underlying causes of gender inequality.
Women’s equal access to quality education remains a strong factor in ICT use. More needs to be done collaboratively to promote digital literacy of women and girls, especially in rural areas, with assistance from governments, the private sector and civil society. We need to challenge gender stereotypes to increase the number of women employed in the ICT sector. This means encouraging women and girls to enroll in science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses as well as effectively tackling sexual harassment in work places that discourage women from pursuing careers in the sector. This works needs to start already in early childhood education.
Finally, we would like to emphasize that the internet must be open, global, accessible and safe.
We look forward to hearing from the panelists practical recommendations on how to increase women's access to and participation in the ICTs.