Cyber gender equality progress slow and uneven

Publication Date: Mar 15, 2021
 
Cyber gender quality progress slow and uneven

Article by Claude Calleja Executive eSkills Malta Foundation published on The Sunday Times of Malta on 14.03.2021
  
8th March is International Women's Day - an important day for gender equality in the digital world.

However, a report by UN Women entitled "Gender equality in the digital world: progress towards true gender equality remains slow" shows that progress towards gender equality is uneven. The eSkills Malta Foundation’s call was always for greater equality and justice for women.  The Foundation is one of the leaders in Malta for encouraging girls and women to consider a digital career. It calls for equal access to education, health, employment, housing, education and healthcare, and equal rights for men and women.  In fact, the Foundation commissioned various studies such as the “Analysis of the Gender gap in the Digital Sector in Malta” and “Guidelines to Increase and Retain Women in ICT” to facilitate this adaptation.  Despite our continuous efforts to improve women's lives and combat gender inequality, we have not made significant improvements in terms of gender equality in technology.

To further ensure and promote equal treatment and opportunities for women and men in all areas including participation in the labour market, the European Pillar of Social Rights was set up.  To turn these words into action, the European Commission adopted a series of legal measures to improve the work-life balance for working parents and their careers. 

The representation of women in management positions is also affected in many sectors, with less than one third of the managers of listed companies in the EU being women.  The shadow of a pandemic and the gender-based violence is not helping the situation.  This is thankfully widely reported and discussed in the media and will continue to be discussed elsewhere.

Although attention to gender statistics has increased in recent decades, the ability to effectively track progress toward global goals is challenging for many countries for several reasons, including inconsistent coverage of gender indicators and targets. For example, U N Women has found that only one-third of global gender equality data can be classified as Tier 1.  Tier 1 is a classification determined by the Inter-Agency Expert Group, meaning that it can be reliably monitored at global level. While 17 indicators are still being developed "coverage is patchy or insufficient to allow for global monitoring".

Given the rapid progress of science, the ability to create and shape technological change has become a fundamental tool for supporting women's empowerment and improving their lives. Progress has been made towards gender parity over the last 100 years. 

Women can achieve true equality only if men share the responsibility to raise the next generation. We need to continue to promote women's cybersecurity and we need to be able to lift more women up by giving them opportunities. It is not just about gender equality in cybersecurity, but also in other areas such as education, health and education reform, and in the workplace, and we all need to take action to create one that does not discriminate against women. 

Twenty-five years have passed since the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action, but how close are we really to gender equality? The report shows how public services can be expanded to meet women's rights, from improving access to contraception and childcare to reducing domestic violence, to increasing women's participation in politics and peace work. Despite unprecedented global challenges, the report also proves that positive change is possible, as demonstrated by the success of countries such as the United States, China, India, South Africa and Brazil, which achieve the highest levels of gender parity in education, health and education.

We need to look more closely at women's progress in their rights holistically.  Cybersecurity is one of latest areas, but other segments of human rights indicate that we still have a long way to go.

View studies by eSkills Malta Foundation “Analysis of the Gender gap in the Digital Sector in Malta” and “Guidelines to Increase and Retain Women in ICT”.

This article was prepared by collating various publicly available online sources.