Sixty Seventh Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW67)
“… we must dare to dream and we must dare to do, to address the gendered impacts of innovation and technology, to bridge the digital gender divide,” were the sentiments of the Hon. Minister for Internal Affairs, Lord Vaea at the Sixty Seventh Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW67) on the theme, “Innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls,” on delivering Tonga’s statement in New York, at the United Nations Headquarters from 6 – 17 March 2023.
The Minister acknowledged that there is unequal access to new technology, which is due to geographical and disability accessibility challenges, and the unaffordability of technological devices. He continued that the 2021 Population Census indicated that more women than men own a mobile phone; use mobile data; and indicate social media as their main purpose of using the internet. Further, he referred that during the emergency period and the covid-19 lockdown, e-learning and the use of the radio, ensured education had continued in Tonga. Although there are different technological platforms to encourage women and girls to study Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), ITC teachers are lacking in Tonga consisting of only 9% in the teaching profession. Minister went on to highlight challenges to be addressed included “Cyber security, online threats, exploitation, the need for data protection, on-line bullying, abuse and gender-based violence”. A holistic approach is required to address these challenges with the support from multilateral collaborations.
Tonga was amongst seven Pacific Ministers leading their delegations to this CSW67th session. Negotiations on the Agreed Conclusions are underway. Session will conclude on 17 March 2023.
Tonga’s delegation was led by the Hon Minister for Internal Affairs Lord Vaea, H.E. Ambassador Va’inga Tone, MIA Deputy CEO Women’s Affairs and Gender Equality Division Polotu F Paunga , Jeanette Vea and Darlene Vaea from the Tonga Mission to the UN in New York.