The recent past has seen an aggressive push back against women’s rights and the drive toward gender equality. According to the United Nations, although there has always been a measure of opposition to equal rights for women, voices opposing gender equality and women’s rights activism have recently become louder, more global, and better organized.
“The sad fact is, for the past 12 months, women and girls around the world have been under assault,” said United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield. “In Afghanistan, in Iran, in Ukraine, and in countless other countries and contexts, women and girls are facing a barrage of attacks and threats like no other.”
Speaking during the run-up to the 67th session of the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield noted that given the global reach of digital technology, an important tool used by those who oppose women’s advancement to disseminate their ideology and the universal nature of the obstacles that women face, this year’s theme is apt: advancing gender equality in digital spaces.
“Gender-based violence is increasingly facilitated by technology. And pervasive discrimination and violence online threaten women and girls’ access to health, education, and social services. It denies us our rights,” she said.
“In our modern world, where the digital realm is as real as the physical, the rights of women and girls need to be defended both online and off.”
But even as we harness the power of technology to achieve gender equality, we need to make sure rural women and girls are not left behind or forgotten.
For our part, the United States “has established a task force for addressing online harassment and abuse, which is establishing programs, reports, hotlines, surveys, and research centers to counter digital violence.” In the multilateral sphere, the United States is proud to be a part of the Global Partnership for Action on Gender-Based Online Harassment and Abuse.
“When it comes to the status of women, we face an inflection point,” said Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield. “Will we let women and women’s rights face constant assault, each year worse than the next? Or will we make progress, and work together to do everything we can to protect, support, and uplift women and girls around the world?” she said.
“I know we can build a better world for my granddaughters, and for all the little girls growing up right now.”