UNESCO’s Social and Human Sciences Sector participates in the Generation Equality Forum

UNESCO’s Social and Human Sciences Sector is thrilled to have participated in the Generation Equality Forum and to offer practical support to the Forum’s aims, from ensuring gender inclusivity in sport and the digital world to transforming mentalities and eliminating gender norms and stereotypes worldwide. UNESCO and the Forum share a mission: to bring together governments, corporations, NGOs, youth-led groups, and foundations to secure tangible, ambitious and transformative commitments for gender equality.

UNESCO is innovating and driving change as part of the Action Coalition on Technology and Innovation for Gender Equality. One concrete example is the forthcoming Recommendation on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence (AI), to be submitted for deliberation and adoption by UNESCO Member States in November 2021. The Recommendation will be the first-ever global normative framework in the field of AI to support inclusion and equality, including gender equality in and through technology. At present, only 22% of AI professionals globally are female. Only 14% of AI paper authors are women. And only 18% of authors at the leading conferences on AI are women. Women only hold 5% of leadership positions in the technology sector.

The Recommendation will cover the whole AI life-cycle, from design through to deployment and use, and will provide a template to guide AI regulation based on respect for human dignity, human

rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as protecting and promoting gender equality, antiracism, antidiscrimination,

Tools to assess ethical impact and readiness will accompany the Recommendation. These will assist Member States in identifying their preparedness to ethically implement the technology. The Recommendation will set the bar high for the technology and innovation sector to support women’s access to AI at every level, and to eliminate biases and discrimination in AI algorithms and databases.

UNESCO’s sport programme is also driving the equality agenda, particularly our new sport education initiative Fit for Life, which has gender equality as one of its three priorities. Sport is a low-cost high-yield investment to drive equality and to promote inclusive growth, along with its many other benefits for individuals and communities. Fit for Life provides an integrated implementation framework to advance Sustainable Development Goal 5 on Gender Equality, the Generation Equality Framework and other development agendas. It offers imaginative, stimulating means to tackle structural inequalities through creative, sport-based interventions focused on empowerment and skills-building in schools, communities and countries around the world. As UEFA noted in 2017, 80% of young women polled in Europe equate participation in sport with increased confidence and reduced anxiety.

Through transformative frameworks such as Fit for Life, built on a public-private partnership approach, UNESCO is working to transform toxic masculinities and change the narrative around equality in and through sport. This work is underpinned by measurement and impact data, which will also be disseminated by the forthcoming UNESCO Global Observatory on Women and Sport to be hosted by Switzerland. In addition to the sex-disaggregated data collection planned within Fit for Life, UNESCO is already documenting the impacts of COVID-19 on girls’ participation in physical education, as well as on their overall wellbeing.

In addition to these commitments, Ms Gabriela Ramos, Assistant Director-General for the Social and Human Sciences Sector of UNESCO, participated in the roundtable discussion, “The impact of Covid-19 on women’s health and sexual and reproductive rights,” hosted by the think tank Marie Claire Agir pour l’Egalité, alongside panellists Valérie Hoffenberg, President of the Connecting Leaders Club and Co-founder of Agir pour l’Egalité; Ulrike Decoene, Group Chief Communication, Brand and Sustainability Officer of AXA; Valérie Faillat-Proux, Executive Director of Sanofi Espoir Foundation; and Terry McGovern, Chair of the Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health, and Director of the Program on Global Health Justice and Governance at Columbia University, USA.

The Generation Equality Forum sets the agenda for sustainable change in favour of women’s and girls’ leadership and empowerment and imagines ways forward to recover from the COVID-19 crises and leave no one behind. This, and the other initiatives UNESCO leads or supports will be an opportunity to examine the impact of COVID-19 worldwide on both the physical and mental health of women, to collectively highlight good practices for gender-transformative post-COVID-19 recovery plans.

UNESCO is honoured to be leading the fight for gender equality alongside such innovative and engaged change-makers.

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