Statement by H.E. Ms. Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Prime Minister of Iceland at CSW67 General Debate
Iceland welcomes the opportunity to review our efforts and progress towards gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.
There are challenges that stand before us regarding gender equality and technological change.
We all know that the world as we know it has largely been designed by men, for men. But what about the digital world, where we spend an increasing amount of our time? Who designs the algorithms that have more control over our thoughts and decisions than we care to think about?
Algorithms will be exactly as flawed as their creators, including having built in gender biases. We have a huge data gap when it comes to women’s role in society and AI is based on data. If we do not have data on women and if the algorithms are mainly designed by men, the risk is that new technologies will make our world even more unequal.
Gender equality must remain a top priority regarding innovation and technological change. We need to take action to make innovation and technological change work for all of us. By embedding gender in innovation and technology development, investing in feminist innovation and tech, dismantling gender stereotypes and educating and empowering women, I truly believe it will contribute to a better, more equal society, but we need the whole of humanity to produce knowledge and solutions for our current challenges, not just half of it.
Digitalisation has expanded a growing resistance to gender equality and provided a new platform for gender based violence that cannot be tolerated. Recent numbers show that 38% of women have experienced online violence. At the same time that we should be moving forward we see that younger women are more likely to have been the victim of such violence In Iceland we are already taking action and in 2021 the Icelandic Parliament adopted a progressive legislation to fight online gender based violence. We will continue to build policies to end this and all forms of gender based violence.
As one of the leaders of the Generation Equality Forum’s Action Coalition on Gender-Based Violence, Iceland participates in an action coalition on technology and innovation for gender equality. Our shared goal there is to bridge the gender gap in digital access and competence, which is substantial.
But the fight against gender based and sexual violence takes place on many frontiers.
In every war we see gender-based violence surging. In Ukraine, women have been raped and sexually assaulted as part of Russia’s military strategy, and more than 8 million Ukrainians have fled their country, mostly women and children.
Domestic violence continues to be one of the greatest threats to women. Out of all violent crimes reported in 2020 in Iceland, 50% were crimes of domestic violence. The high number follows a change in protocol on how we deal with domestic violence crimes. This shift is happening right now and I strongly believe that bringing gender based violence into the light is the only way to eradicate it.
Dear colleagues, the line of defense is not a constant – it moves and we are forever reminded that human rights, women’s rights, can be lost just as they can be won. Today the battle revolves around women’s sexual and reproductive rights that are under attack all around the world. Iceland passed a progressive abortion legislation in 2019, ensuring women’s self-determination over their bodies. Our demands for women all over the world are clear: They control their bodies.
In Iceland we have put gender equality in the foreground in all decision-making. We will continue to do so both at home and in international cooperation, with the aim of creating a socially just, a more peaceful and a better world.