Issue date
9 March 2023

67th session of the Commission on the Status of Women: Statement at Ministerial Roundtable session. Delivered by: Te Tumu Whakarae mō te wahine | Secretary for Women and Chief Executive, Kellie Coombes.

Find out more about CSW67.

Tēnā koutou katoa, greetings to you all. 

Technology has made it easier to learn, participate, and connect, and improves opportunities for women, girls and gender diverse people. However, we also know that the gender digital divide is an ongoing challenge. Technological advances can exacerbate existing inequalities and social norms. 

Aotearoa New Zealand has been working hard to ensure our women, girls, and gender diverse communities can live, work and play safely and happily online and offline. This includes via multistakeholder collaborations with international partners on the Christchurch Call and the Global Partnership for Action on Gender-Based Online Harassment and Abuse. These both work to address online gender-based hate, and to ensure a free, open, and secure global internet is a force for good, a place where human rights are promoted and upheld, and where technology contributes to empowerment for all.   

The proliferation of gender and race-based hate is an issue both offline and online. Gender-based hate and misogyny are common themes in almost all violent extremist ideologies. The increasing rates and severity of technology-facilitated gender-based violence is exacerbated for groups experiencing multiple intersecting factors of discrimination. 

Education and the needs and voices of young people, particularly adolescent girls, are a priority as we design safer digital spaces – especially since technology is now a basis for adolescents’ education and many of their relationships.  

We have recently launched refreshed relationships and sexuality education guidance which includes a module about pornography. This was developed with young people, and those who work with young people, to support positive conversations about healthy relationships, digital safety, consent, and pornography. Guidance has also been developed for schools along with online and text services to support people experiencing online bullying. 

Improving representation and retention of women and girls in all their diversity in STEM and the tech industry will lead to the design and development of safer digital and online spaces. Resourcing more inclusive and diverse tech initiatives and organisations will both mitigate the leaky tech pipeline and support gender transformative innovation. These efforts will better share the benefits of the digital age with everyone.