On the Path Towards an Equitable Digital Future

Harnessing innovation and technology for gender equality and women empowerment is instrumental for bridging digital divide.

March 8, 2023
Photo: UNDP in Belarus

The world is undergoing a digital transformation. The digitalization shapes almost all aspects of people’s everyday lives and increasingly determines how they work, learn, and communicate. The digital technologies make societies and communities “smart” and fit for the future, increase their resilience to multiple overlapping crises. However, the far-reaching changes of the digital transformation may also increase discrimination, inequalities, and violence, especially facing women and girls.

This year’s message of the International Women’s Day is “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality”. The Day is celebrated worldwide to place spotlight on opportunities that digital technologies offer to advance the progress towards gender equality and women empowerment. Technological change and digitalization are powerful enablers for engaging women and girls in delivering a transformative impact across societies and towards achievement of the SDGs.

Globally UNDP is guided by the priorities set in Gender Equality Strategy 2022-2025 and Digital Strategy 2022-2025 to build inclusive digital ecosystems. They are designed to prepare women and girls for the future of work, give access to essential digital services, increase their civic and entrepreneurial engagement.

In Belarus, UNDP is committed to support the implementation of the National Action Plan for Gender Equality 2021-2025. We work together with local and national partners to amplify the advantages and to find innovative solutions to challenges associated with the digitalization in entrepreneurship, education, healthcare, and climate action. 

In 2022 UNDP supported 36 women-led local business initiatives through helping advance innovations, develop digital business infrastructure, and tap into new market opportunities. For instance, in Zhlobin district creative women introduced techno- innovations in beekeeping to boost local economic development, promote green knowledge and help preserve biodiversity. Four new online sales and marketing platforms help women running local small businesses to expand their sales, enter new markets and raise profit.  

New knowledge and skills for women and girls are critical for harnessing technology and innovations for gender equality. In Homiel UNDP supported an online platform offering innovative and creative learning tools for children and parents who want to strengthen their knowledge in the secondary school courses. In Bereza district women can enroll into a new online course on sustainable gardening. In partnership with the Ministry of Economy of Belarus, UNDP devised a new mentoring program for women entrepreneurs, which is scheduled for launch in 2023.

UNDP-supported health procurement improved the quality and accessibility of medical services by delivering a new hi-tech medical equipment to 25% of Belarus’ hospitals. With women representing 73,9% of physicians and 95,5% of nurses and medium medical personnel, we helped to strengthen the capacity of the health system to provide quality services to patients and contributed to safe and technology-driven working conditions for women in medicine.

To advance gender equality in climate action, UNDP developed recommendations on gender mainstreaming into the national climate change policies and actions towards NDC targets. The recommendations include measures to reduce gender segregation in the energy intensive sectors and increase women's participation in decision-making related to energy consumption.

Harnessing innovation and technology for gender equality and women empowerment is instrumental for bridging digital divide across communities and industries.