Ministry Statements & Speeches:
Tena koutou katoa [I acknowledge and greet you all]
Excellencies, and distinguished guests.
Chair, I am honoured to speak to you today at the sixty-seventh session of the Commission on the Status of Women.
Aotearoa New Zealand aligns with the statements delivered on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum member states, the Group of Friends for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls; and the LGBTI Core Group.
I would like to begin by acknowledging the intersecting crises impacting the rights of women and girls around the world. Armed conflicts, widespread violence, climate change and disasters are leading to egregious human rights violations which exacerbate existing gender norms and inequalities.
Technological change allows us to connect and coordinate global efforts towards gender equality. However, many social and gender norms and inequalities have been entrenched in technology and in the tech and innovation industry. Women, girls, and gender diverse people still experience disproportionate harm and marginalisation, and research increasingly documents the correlation between online and offline violence. This is especially felt by those who experience multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination such as indigenous, disabled, LGBTQIA+, Asian, and ethnic and religious minority women and girls.
Global efforts to eliminate gender-based violence and discrimination must focus on the rising misogyny and misinformation expressed online. Improving online safety will also improve women and girls’ ability to fully participate in political and public facing roles.
We are working domestically and internationally to ensure collective action and the enhancement of human rights protection online. Last year, we were pleased to join the Global Partnership for Action on Gender-Based Online Harassment and Abuse. We are also proud co-leaders of the Christchurch Call and thank you for your crucial support in eliminating terrorist and violent extremist content shared online.
Education is key to harnessing innovation and technology for gender equality. New Zealand’s Curriculum refresh will include skills to challenge mis- and dis-information and add digital safety to relationships and sexuality education guidance. The Harmful Digital Communications Act was amended to specifically prohibit the unauthorised posting and sharing of intimate visual recordings.
To share the benefits of technology equitably, there must be seats at the table for women and girls in all their diversity, and the appropriate tools and funding to access them. Women receive 80% of the tech funding of their male counterparts and this investment gap is not unique to Aotearoa New Zealand. Governments, civil society, and the private sector must collaborate to prioritise the representation, upskilling and retention of women and girls in STEM.
Our Digital Technologies Industry Transformation Plan will target women and girls and the Lifting Connectivity for Aotearoa strategy focuses on rural settings, directly benefitting rural women.
Closing the gender digital divide must prioritise the wellbeing, knowledge and self-determination of indigenous women and girls, and their families. We have an all-of-government work programme to protect Maori knowledge in the intellectual property system, and the “Toloa” programme provides lifelong support to Pacific learners pursuing STEAM pathways.
We must be gender-transformative in our approaches to these challenges. Ensuring that technology, innovation and the online world is built, and rebuilt, with women and girls at the centre, will deliver a more equitable and gender equal future for all.
Nga mihi nui. Thank you.