September 26, 2020

How to empower women and girls even more — with technology


Pin It

SGS-5578By Kari Paul From Mashable

Social media and other digital tools are transforming the roles of women and girls across the world, policymakers, activists and tech leaders told the 2014 Social Good Summit on Sunday.

United Nations Foundation CEO Kathy Calvin, noted children’s rights activist Graça Machel and Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand and administrator at the United Nations Development Programme, joined a panel called “Women Power. Empowered Women.” Moderated by ABC News co-anchor Juju Chang, the discussion centered on the ways tech is informing, empowering and inspiring women and girls globally.

“Information is power,” Calvin said. “And technology is the way to empower women.”

The panelists discussed the ways technology is improving the lives of women and girls, and addressed action that still needs to be taken on a global scale.

“I think this conversation brings to the center the understanding of the value of our girls,” Machel said. “A girl has the same value as a boy. And this means a huge change in the way families and communities look at girls.”

SGS-7895Calvin mentioned specific apps that are helping women around the world, including MAMA, a service developed in partnership with the U.N. that gives age-based information to pregnant and new mothers in Africa — letting them make informed decisions about their health.

“There is a huge gap in gender data,” Calvin said. “If we don’t count [women], we can’t take care of them, make sure our policies are meeting their needs or find out if our efforts are working.” “If we don’t count [women], we can’t take care of them, make sure our policies are meeting their needs or find out if our efforts are working.”

As mobile phone use increases globally, Clark said, women still have far less access than men. She said changing this is “critical to [women’s] economic empowerment and employment.”

“The implications of this digital divide is also a services divide, and an information divide,” she said. “And information is power, as we know.”

For Machel, connecting communities has the power to change long-held ideas or traditions — the kind that lead to child marriage, which affects 15 million girls each year.

“Traditions are man-made,” she said. “These efforts have to go down to the community level. We have to change the mindset.”

A later panel also discussed the importance of connecting communities to change attitudes, and empower women and girls. Moderated by Asha Curran, director of the 92Y’s Center for Innovation & Social Impact, “Inspiring Real World Action in the Women’s Movement” underscored the work of recent social media campaigns to create discussion surrounding women’s issues.

The panelists included Tribal Planet founder Jeff Martin, Executive Director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and Tara Abrahams, the global policy advisor at Girl Rising. They discussed recent hashtag campaigns, like #YesAllWomen, that have brought women’s issues to the forefront of public discourse.

“Social media is forcing traditional media to address these issues,” Martin said.

Above all, each panelist called for further action to support women and girls. “We need to mobilize,” Mlambo said. “Gender discrimination is the most tolerated violation of rights on earth today. We cannot have an open-ended struggle as far as women are concerned — there has to be an expiration date.”

About Social Good Summit

The Social Good Summit is where big ideas meet new media to create innovative solutions and is brought to you by Mashable, The 92nd Street Y, The United Nations Foundation, The United Nations Development Programme and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Held during UN Week, the Social Good Summit unites a dynamic community of global leaders to discuss a big idea: the power of innovative thinking and technology to solve our greatest challenges.

For more:

Related story:

How the World is predicting and preparing for climate extremes


If we look at the hard facts of climate change, science is telling us we’re running out of time.

That’s what Achim Steiner, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), said during a panel at the 2014 Social Good Summit on Sunday. Moderated by Mashable’s senior climate reporter Andrew Freedman, the panel focused on what actions we’re taking to make cities more resilient in the face of climate-related extremes over the next 15 years.

Prepping society for increased climate change and extreme weather, as well as addressing mitigation challenges, is a difficult task — but there’s still hope.

“The hard numbers don’t tell a great story — but underneath that story, there are literally thousands of stories of people trying to build a different future,” Steiner said.

Indeed, as Steiner spoke, more than 300,000 people gathered in New York City for the People’s Climate March, calling for action against global warming. Thousands of others joined similar marches around the world.

Steiner added that we need to live in a climate-neutral world — and with every year that passes, that becomes more difficult. But he emphasized a need to shift our focus away from exact timing.

“There is not one date … We have the choice, we have the opportunity, and that, I think, is the moment we need to seize We have the choice, we have the opportunity, and that, I think, is the moment we need to seize,” he said.

Johannesburg, the largest city in South Africa, has made efforts to seize that very moment. Mayor Mpho Parks Tau, who also sat on Sunday’s panel, explained how his city has conducted detailed analyses and projections in order to better secure its infrastructure during extreme weather events. But it’s also about better preparing communities, he said.

Fellow panelist Seth Schultz discussed his work as director of research, measurement and planning at the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. C40 is a collaboration of 59 cities around world, including Johannesburg, working together on climate change.

“The amount of action cities are taking, both to mitigate and to adapt, has more than doubled in a two-year timeframe,” Schultz said. “Our most recent study … [showed] that cities have taken over 1,000 actions to address the issue [of risk].

“They’re doing this out of necessity, but voluntarily helping and collaborating with each other, and the impact they’re having is quite significant.”

Since climate change is such a complex issue, C40 is working on an initiative called the Climate Risk Assessment Framework and Tool “to help create a taxonomy of the hazards that cities face — and to do it in a very consistent matter, to allow for a much more intuitive connection between the cities on helping address these issues,” Schultz said.

Companies like Solazyme, whose CEO and cofounder Jonathan Wolfson also spoke on Sunday, are working toward solutions, too.

“Our goal was, initially, to simply make low-carbon, renewable fuels,” Wolfson said. “But as we started to work with fuels, we realized if we were making oils, we could address a much more substantial array of problems, including food security, nutrition and the pressures on fragile equatorial ecosystems.”

He said real progress requires cities to take initiative, organizations like the U.N. to set an example and companies to make innovative solutions.

Sept. 23 will mark the U.N. Climate Summit, when more than 100 heads of state, CEOs and other leaders will begin discussing actions toward a potential climate treaty. The event is intended to build momentum toward the U.N. Climate Change Conference, which takes place in Paris in 2015.

Steiner thinks the fact that so many people are set to attend the Climate Summit on Tuesday is progress itself.

“You often have the sense that in the United Nations, we are associated with the inability to act,” he said. “But what you will actually see on Tuesday is a Secretary-General stepping out in front of the world, when many others are sitting back.”

But it isn’t just about leadership — it’s about a grassroots approach, and having the courage to speak about the issue when it’s hardest to do so.

“Let’s be very clear: Tuesday is not about just having everybody step up,” Steiner said. “It’s about giving a spotlight [to] those who are willing to step out of their comfort zone, take responsibility and lead us into the 21st century with these answers.”

IMAGE: Seth Schultz, director of research, measurement and planning at C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, speaks with Andrew Freedman, Mashable’s senior climate reporter, at the Social Good Summit on Sunday, Sept. 21.IMAGE: MASHABLE, CASEY KELBAUGH

For more on this story go to:


Print Friendly, PDF & Email
About ieyenews

Speak Your Mind