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International Women's Day, everyday

Happy International Women's Week!

This week (as we do every day) we will celebrate women - and also acknowledge that at the current rate of progress it will take 108 years to achieve gender equality.
Our work focuses on systems change to catalyze action for more immediate, irreversible and effective
transformation -- an inclusive gender equality where no one is left behind and we all thrive.


5 #Recommendations
for a free, fair, inclusive feminist future
because innovation and technology are one critical key to achieving gender equality.

We will not begin to solve the climate crisis without simultaneously focusing on gender equality, nor will we achieve the SDGs without gender justice or climate justice.

The Geneva Environment Network Secretariat and Women at the Table organized an interactive breakfast: Gender Justice / Climate Justice with activists, ambassadors, NGOs and International Organizations for International Women’s Day.

In conversation with
Marie-Claire Graf, Vice President, Swiss Youth for Climate
Ambassador Nazhat Shameem Khan, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Fiji,
two powerful and experienced COP negotiators.

The event was introduced by H.E. Amb. Socorro Flores Liera, Permanent Representative of Mexico and François Gave, Deputy Permanent Representative of France.

In the run-up to the Generation Equality Forums taking place in Mexico City (May) and Paris (July), feminist action for climate justice is one of six Generation Equality Action Coalitions (including the Technology and Innovation Action Coalition) that will develop ambitious and transformative actions for 2020-2025 seeking to achieve immediate and irreversible progress towards gender equality.
We began our discussion with the critical role of women leading and driving solutions for climate change; lessons learnt across the feminist movement that can be applied to the climate movement; and gender equality and gender justice in the climate agenda. We applied a laser focus to concrete actions that could be taken at upcoming COP26 in Glasgow.
With women and girls representing the majority of those affected by climate change, (also in our opinion the largest untapped intellectual resource on the planet), we must ensure that climate justice = gender justice.

What's next?

Women at the Table will continue to fight for gender equality, as we do every single day of the year...

Our team was greatly looking forward to attending the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) along with 7,000 feminist sisters, however in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) CSW decided to convene a one day procedural meeting and to suspend the two week session including side events.

Here’s a snapshot of what we had scheduled in New York, which we will now do online, and in person when the situation improves ---

Coding Gender Equality:
<A+> Alliance for Inclusive Algorithms

(This NGO CSW side event was to take place at lunchtime the first week of CSW at the gorgeous Salvation Army Auditorium.)

International Briefing:
Decoding Gender Equality:
<A+> for Inclusive Algorithms

The <A+> Alliance was to host a briefing at the EU Delegation to the UN in New York for an invited guest list of 60 delegates, international and civil society organisations and foundations on <Decoding Gender Equality: <A+> for Inclusive Algorithms> with special guests from Ciudadania Inteligente, Yale’s Computation and Society Initiative, and Mexico's National Council for Science and Technology, moderated by Women at the Table.

Potentially the greatest global paradigm shift yet this issue is even more problematic than current evidence shows. We and the <A+> Alliance believe it must be addressed at the diplomatic, standards, public policy and technical levels, simultaneously.

As countries accelerate their pace drafting National AI Strategies and rush to adopt Automated Decision-Making (ADM) systems to address different social problems, we need to equip policy makers, technologists, governments and civil society with the basic skills to use human rights as guiding principles in design, in order to fully realize the potential of technology to identify and counteract biases when designing an inclusive digital future.

Women at the Table on behalf of the <A+> Alliance and Access Now intended to deliver a statement calling for gender equality in Automated Decision-Making (ADM) during the CSW64 general discussion. The statement underscores that gender equality in ADM is critical to fully realising the BDPA and guaranteeing women’s human rights and full participation. Again, we make 5 practical and key recommendations to achieve gender equality in ADM calling for :

  • inclusion of intersectional varieties + equal numbers of women + girls in the creation, design + coding of AI

  • making the inclusion of women and girls institutional and systemic

  • grounding AI + machine learning in human rights

  • adopting binding frameworks to establish AI accountability + transparency

  • mobilising international cooperation to correct for the mass scale of skewed data.

You can find these recommendations in our full written statement to CSW64.

In the next few weeks and months, we will spotlight gender equality in algorithms, in standards, and in Smart Feminist Cities - working to catalyze feminist influence in these sectors that have key structural impact.

Algorithms 101

Women at the Table will host a series of Algorithms 101 sessions for International Geneva - delegates, international organisations, international experts and civil society. Grounded in human rights, Algorithms 101 will develop and strengthen an understanding of gender and racial bias in Automated Decision-Making (ADM) as a first step towards our taking collective action for a human-centered, gender-responsive, rights-based approach in the future we invent.

What else have we been up to?

We were proud to be part of the curation team of experts, and have the honor of moderating UN Habitat's wuf10 World Urban Forum Women's Roundtable àin February in Abu Dhabi.

Executive Director of UN Habitat Maimunah Mohd Sharif joined the discussion along with an extraordinary and diverse panel of experts from across the globe – organizers from Ghana’s Federation for the Urban Poor in Accra, and Polycom Development in Kibera, climate justice activists from Mexico City and Germany, Housing Ministers from Malaysia and Spain, Mayors from Guinea, Cameroon, and Sierra Leone, a Boston academic, and inclusion activists from New Delhi and Vancouver (including the first LGTBI2s representative at a UN Habitat conference). It was an energising and inspiring afternoon.


It was also clear that in order to meaningfully contribute to the New Urban Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, culture and innovation must utilize a powerful gender lens and provide equal access to all, which would include the 50% of the population that is women and girls. We need Smart Feminist Cities. Women at the Table is very much looking forward to continuing this conversation when UN Habitat comes to Geneva for an Expert Group Meeting on Human Rights and Gender in Cities.

Human Rights Council

At the high-level panel discussion commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action at the 43rd session of the Human Rights Council (HRC43) Women at the Table called for :

concrete action by member states to address the challenges of the fourth industrial revolution and achieve gender equality in Automated Decision-Making (ADM):

1). Intersectional varieties + equal #s of women + girls

2). Systemic and institutional inclusion of women + girls

3). An approach grounded in human rights

4). Adoption of binding guidelines that establish accountability

5). International cooperation to correct the mass scale of skewed data.

As we commemorate Beijing +25 and look forward to the 10 years until we must achieve the SDGs, no country has yet achieved gender equality. An urgent and profound shift is needed. Women must have a seat at the decision making table as we invent the future. Only if we accomplish this, will we be on a road to where we leave no one behind, and finally fully achieve the aspirations of the Beijing Declaration.

Full statement:

AI & Gender: A Human Rights Toolbox

In partnership with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and in collaboration with EPFL’s Digital Humanities, and the EPFL Equal Opportunities Office, we hosted a first of its kind workshop: <AI & Gender> A Human Rights Toolbox for EPFL students.

Delivered with our OHCHR colleague and applying a human-rights based approach the workshop sought to develop and strengthen awareness as well as the understanding of gender equality and gender bias as a first step towards behavioural change, and the integration of a gender perspective into the everyday work of computer science and engineering.

We have received overwhelmingly positive feedback on this workshop and look forward to hosting future iterations of this first successful attempt to ingrain a gender and human rights based approach into the daily reality of engineers, and computer and data scientists as they strive for, and achieve, greater excellence in science by using an inclusive gender lens as they invent the future.

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