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63rd Session CSW – Side Event on “How Can Digital Technology Support Gender Equality In The MENA Region”

Opening Remarks delivered by Ambassador Mariangela Zappia, Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations, at the CSW 63 – Side Event on “How Can Digital Technology Support Gender Equality In The MENA Region” —

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Colleagues,

First of all I wish to thank the Permanent Representative of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Her Excellency Ms. Sima Sami Bahous, as well as UNIDO, FAO and UN Women, for joining Italy in this side-event.

In this session, the CSW is considering three priority areas: how social protection, public services and sustainable infrastructure can contribute to gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. For the first time, and it’s a groundbreaking achievement, the Commission explores the connection between gender equality and social protection.

Let me tell you that there is in Italy and in the Italian government growing awareness on how digital technology can represent a powerful tool to transform the ways in which women live and work. My is committed to implementing its Digital Agenda, in keeping with the broader EU 2020 Strategy, which sets the objective of developing a digital culture and developing complementarity of national and regional actions, as well as on a specific National Plan centered on “Digital Growth”.

Gender mainstreaming is also an integral part of Italy’s Development Cooperation programme, especially in the Mediterranean and Sub-Saharian regions. In this regard, I would like to highlight the program that we run together with UNIDO, highlighting UNIDO’s initiative, “Promoting Women’s Empowerment for Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development in North Africa and the Middle East”. This is a program that is funded by our Cooperation since 2015 and especially addressed to seven Countries of the MENA region, of course including Jordan. The goal is to realize the full potential of women entrepreneurs for economic growth and empowerment, also through actions aiming to bridge the technological gender divide, where it exists.

The program also aims at strengthening the role of the Mediterranean Women Mediators’ Network. This is an initiative which my Government is particularly proud, because these networks of mediators have a very important, crucial role to play wherever there is a situation that needs stabilization, wherever there is the need to bring peace and stabilization. We thought the Mediterranean region was a good region to start from, and the example we set in creating this network of women was also followed by other regions.

Programmes like the one we are discussing today favoring women’s entrepreneurship, are not only strategic for women’s advancement in society, but also for promoting peace, stability and long-term growth.

In this respect, digital technology can contribute to advancing the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in the framework of the National Action Plans, by broadening the meaningful participation of women as well as their representation in the MENA Countries’ political and decision-making processes, including national reconciliation. We commend the new Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs of the UN for supporting the Secretary-General’s Strategy on New Technologies, aimed at opening up the UN system to new tools to better address current global challenges and improve its capacity for early warning and mediation.

Finally, let me also highlight our continuing support to UN Women, FAO and other UN offices, in several Countries in the MENA region, through cooperation programs aimed at promoting all human rights of women and girls, in all aspects of life, from education, health and family planning, to the labour market, the economy and politics.

I will stop here, there is a lot more that we need and we want to listen, more interesting and more to the point.

Thank you for your attention.