Loss due to women’s exclusion from digital world could grow to $1.5 trillion by 2025: UN Chief

UN secretary general Antonio GuterresFile photo

United Nations secretary general Antonio Guterres has said investing in women uplifts all people, communities and countries.

“Let us work together – across governments, the private sector and civil society – to build a more inclusive, just and prosperous world for women, girls, men and boys everywhere,” he said.

The UN chief made the call in a message marking International Women’s Day on Wednesday.

Women’s exclusion from the digital world has shaved an estimated $1 trillion from the GDP of low- and middle-income countries in the last decade — a loss that could grow to $1.5 trillion by 2025 without action, he said.

“On International Women’s Day, we celebrate the achievements of women and girls across all walks of life, in all corners of the world,” Guterres said.

But they also recognise the enormous obstacles they face — from structural injustices, marginalisation, and violence, to cascading crises that affect them first and worst, to the denial of their personal autonomy and rights over their bodies and lives, he said.

Gender-based discrimination harms everyone – women, girls, men, and boys, said the UN chief, adding that “International Women’s Day is a call to action.”

Action needed to stand with women who are demanding their fundamental rights at great personal cost, he said, adding that action is also required to strengthen protection against sexual exploitation and abuse.

“And action to accelerate women’s full participation and leadership. This year’s theme stresses the need for technology and innovation to advance gender equality,” Guterres said.

Technology can expand pathways to education and opportunities for women and girls.

But it can also be used to amplify abuse and hatred.

“Today, women make up under a third of the workforce in science, technology, engineering, and maths,” Guterres said.

And when women are under-represented in developing new technologies, discrimination may be baked in from the start.

“That is why we must close the digital divide and increase the representation of women and girls in science and technology,” said the UN chief.