UNIDO publishes report: Gender, Digital Transformation and Artificial Intelligence

UNIDO is delighted to announce the launch of a new publication titled “Gender, Digital Transformation and Artificial Intelligence”, a product of collaboration of contributors from the UNIDO Gender Equality and Women Empowerment Unit (COR/GEW), the UNIDO Digital Transformation and AI Strategies Division (TCS/DAS), the University of Cambridge Institute for Manufacturing, and the Western Norway Research Institute. The report benefited from the input of external experts from a range of international institutions and corporations, including the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the University of Lausanne, Cisco Systems, Inc., and VigyanShaala International.

The issue of addressing and closing gender gaps extends far beyond the realm of human rights. On the economic front, closing gender gaps can yield benefits by expanding markets, enabling access to a broader talent pool, and providing solutions to skills shortages. With a more gender-diverse workforce, companies can improve their financial performance by tapping into a wider array of perspectives and skills, fostering an environment conducive to innovation and creativity. In terms of social benefits, bridging the digital gender gap can help to prevent the perpetuation and reinforcement of inherent bias and power dynamics, thereby contributing to the emergence of a more egalitarian society.

The recent publication accentuates the myriad opportunities digital technologies and AI present for women in terms of leadership, participation, and benefits stemming from technological advancements. It also raises concerns about the potential pitfalls these technologies could bring without the presence of enabling policies, including the risk of exacerbating economic and social exclusion of women and other vulnerable groups. A significant portion of the report is devoted to policies and strategies aimed at fostering gender equality amidst the rapid digital transformation. AI, being a field of rapid growth, is at the center of this analysis, while other areas of technological innovation like additive manufacturing, big data, cloud computing, cybersecurity, the Internet of Things, distributed ledger technology, robotics, unmanned autonomous vehicle systems, and quantum computers, have also been put under scrutiny.

Through an extensive examination of over 150 initiatives spanning five geographical regions (Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, and Western Europe and others), the report formulates recommendations, which are designed to mainstream gender equality in the era of digital transformation. Additionally, the report delineates specific action areas and strategies, showcasing case studies ranging from international organizations investing in research to unravel gender disparities in technology sectors, development banks backing women-led enterprises, to the synergy between academic institutions and the private sector in enhancing skills development. It also highlights the commendable efforts of civil society organizations in promoting the digital inclusion of marginalized groups.

Read the report here 

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