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CSW 67 – “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality”

Statement by Alvaro Lario, President of IFAD

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Women play a crucial role in feeding the world. In most developing countries they produce between 60 and 80 percent of the food. And yet, rural women and girls are disproportionally affected by poverty and food insecurity.

As we collectively work to transform food systems and close the gender gap, we need to make sure that our policies, investments and programs are inclusive of rural women.

New tools – like digital technology -- hold out the promise for more rapid change.

Yet, technology does not automatically lead to positive change for women and girls. Especially in rural areas.

In Africa, two thirds of women do not have access to Internet.

Many barriers still stand in the way of digital gender equality.

Digital technology remains inaccessible for many women. Either because they are too expensive or because they are still being designed without input from women, thus failing to properly address their specific needs.

Women are also more likely to lack the necessary skills to use new technologies due to limited of access to education and training.

Not to mention additional cultural barriers or the fact that a disproportionate amount of household chores falls on them, often depriving them of time.

Women and girls need equal access to digital technologies.

Because equal access to digital technologies leads to equal access to information. It leads to equal access to knowledge. Equal access to markets and opportunities. 

Technology contributes to strengthen women and girls' agency and their voice and participation in political, social, and economic forums.

At IFAD, we work to close the digital and the gender divide in an integrated and inclusive way.

We combine our focus on rural people, with leveraging information and communication technology to improve the economic and the social conditions of rural women and men.

We support the development of digital solutions that are gender sensitive and culturally appropriate. We’ve learned to combine new technologies with traditional forms of communication.

Today, we call for Governments, private companies, and individuals to join us and increase their investments and efforts to advance gender equality and to close the digital gender gap.

We must leave no one anyone behind in the digital age. Because it is the right thing to do and the smart thing to do to create a prosperous society.