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Back | Programme Area: Gender and Development, Social Policy and Development

New Technologies and Human Rights: The Gender Dimension in Education and Work

Date: 7 Mar 2019

Technological and infrastructural innovations have profound impacts on the way society functions, affecting human rights in ways both positive and negative. On the one hand, new technologies can help provide access to education, improving outcomes for people who may otherwise find it difficult to enter the labour market. In the world of work, mobile apps like Uber, Grab, Airbnb and Innclusive can also offer people who may be struggling to find formal employment an alternative way to make money; in some cases using resources they already own and thus eliminating potentially costly start-up costs. On the other hand, while these new innovations provide income-generating opportunities, these jobs are often not enough to ensure a decent living standard and lack any social protection benefits.

New technologies may soon render many jobs obsolete, as has technological change throughout history. What may be particular about technological change today, however, is the disproportionate risk to jobs held by women: the IMF recently estimated that 180 million jobs held by women are at risk of being eliminated globally. This is in part because many “female” jobs — like customer service, low-skilled clerical and sales jobs — are more likely to be automated than jobs in industries typically occupied by men, like science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) jobs. At the same time, however, there may be job growth in other (traditionally female-dominated) sectors, such as education and health services.

How can we ensure that new technologies do not lead to widespread job loss or increasingly precarious jobs? What needs to be done to ensure these new technologies do not reinforce existing gender inequalities?

This event brings together experts from government, civil society and international organizations to discuss solutions to the gendered challenges posed by new technologies:
  • How can automation be leveraged to achieve gender equality and empower women, girls and other marginalized genders?
  • How can the gap be closed between the private sector, which often develops these technologies, and the role of the state as a duty-bearer to prevent a backslide in gender equality?
  • How can civil society, governments and private actors ensure gender-equal access to basic social services and social protection floors during technological transition?
  • How can public policies, including social protection, be used to ensure that technological changes help close gender gaps, rather than widen them?
  • Is universal basic income a solution to the automation of jobs typically held by marginalized genders?

Jérôme DuberryGlobal Studies Institute, University of GenevaMind the Gap: Ensuring Gender Equality in the Fourth Industrial Revolution
Emma Samman (via Skype)Overseas Development InstituteGender, the Gig Economy and the Future of Work
Wainer LusoliAlbert Hirschman Centre on Democracy, The Graduate InstituteThe Digital Single Market: What Does It Mean for Women and Girls?
Naomi FalkenburgInternational Telecommunication UnionGender in the Digital Transformation: ICTs for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Girls

Doreen Akiyo Yomoah, UNRISD

Permanent Mission of Haiti to the United Nations

Contact for further information
Doreen Yomoah (UNRISD), doreen.yomoah@un.org

This event looks at how women and other marginalized genders are affected by new technologies, with a specific focus on the areas of education and employment. It builds on the event
New Technologies and Human Rights organized by UNRISD in September 2018.

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