07.03.2019 - UNESCO Office in Brasilia

“Women in the Digital Space” - UNESCO message for the International Women’s Day

Message from Ms Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, on the occasion of International Women’s Day “Women in the Digital Space”, 8 March 2019

This year’s International Women’s Day, we celebrate women’s contributions to society – particularly in the digital space – and reflect on how we can ensure women fully enjoy their rights.
Digital technologies are affecting the ways in which we work, learn, teach and live together. Unfortunately, women are not necessarily fully benefitting from this technological revolution. A recent report by the Broadband Commission, co-authored by UNESCO, concluded that the gender digital divide is actually increasing: in 2016, there were over 250 million fewer women online than men that year. Women are not only less connected, but benefit less from digital literacy and skills training, are less likely to be hired by tech companies, and often earn less than their male colleagues.

Even within some of the most cutting-edge fields of science – digital technologies and artificial intelligence – women are at a disadvantage. Only 22 per cent of artificial intelligence professionals are female, for example. This year, UNESCO seeks to redress the balance as we celebrate pioneering women who have pushed back the boundaries of our knowledge in fields such as quantum computing, digital innovation and artificial intelligence. By highlighting the successes of these women, we hope to encourage a new generation of young women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, where they remain under-represented. We work to encourage girls and women to take up STEM fields, and particularly to develop digital skills, for example through the recently launched “Girls Can Code” project.

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