The Generation Equality Regional Midpoint event in Kazakhstan shines a spotlight on innovation and technology for women’s economic empowerment
Almaty, Kazakhstan (15 November 2023) – Around 80 government representatives from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan, alongside leading private sector organizations, civil society organizations, academia representatives, and youth activists gathered in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on November 15 to review progress and bolster existing commitments under UN Women’s global Generation Equality initiative.
The Generation Equality Regional Midpoint event, themed “Accelerating digitalization in Europe and Central Asia: Partnerships on innovation and technology for women’s economic empowerment,” was organized by the UN Women Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia and the Government of the Republic of Kazakstan.
Gülden Türköz-Cosslett, Regional Director a.i. of UN Women Europe and Central Asia, expressed gratitude to the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan for co-convening the event and continuing to show leadership and dedication to the Generation Equality initiative. “Generation Equality marks a pivotal global initiative propelling gender equality. As we convene at the Regional Midpoint, let's collectively commit to gender-inclusive digitalization for the younger generation and to supporting women and girls in becoming equal partners in the digital sector as innovators, developers, and end-users,” stated Gülden Türköz-Cosslett.
Malik Olzhabekov, Vice Minister of Digital Development, Innovations and Aerospace Industry, Republic of Kazakhstan, emphasized that the focus shouldn’t be only on technological advancements but also on creating an inclusive digital landscape that empowers women and ensures equal opportunities. “Through strategic partnerships and innovation, we can bridge these gaps and forge a future where digitalization becomes a powerful force for inclusivity and equality,” pointed out the vice minister.
The event included panels on reducing the digital gender gap and women and girls’ leadership in innovation ecosystems. Participants shared innovative solutions with the potential for scaling up throughout Europe and Central Asia, such as providing digital services to displaced women affected by the invasion of Ukraine and leveraging the potential of artificial intelligence in our post-COVID society.
Arbërie Nagavci, Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation in Kosovo, stated that Kosovo boasts a youthful population, with over 50% under 25, representing both potential and a significant responsibility for the Ministry of Education and society. “Prioritizing government digitalization, aligning with the EU's Digital Agenda 2030, we've crafted laws for inclusive digital development. Collaborating with diverse partners, we ensure equal opportunities for women, girls, students, children, and people with disabilities, fostering skill development and education while combating discrimination," concluded Arbërie Nagavci.
Present at the event, his excellency Kestutis Jankauskas, Ambassador of the European Union to Kazakhstan, underscored that the European Union relies on small and medium enterprises as a cornerstone of the economy. “When pursuing development, it's essential to consider various distinctions, ensuring gender equality permeates every aspect for a truly modern society. While striving for digital modernity, it's vital to remember that modernity alone doesn't encompass everything - democracy holds equal importance. In driving development, we must consciously distinguish between providing and enabling. Both are valuable, yet grassroots needs necessitate enabling environments for men and women to create and register businesses, fostering societal advancement and prosperity," affirmed the ambassador.
Emmanuelle Larroque, Founder and General Director of Social Builder, a civil society organization and coalition leader for technology and innovation, highlighted the importance of closing the gender gap in the digital world in order to achieve SDGs. “Our primary mission has always been empowering women in the digital economy through skill development. We're actively addressing the digital gender gap on the ground, recognizing that digital technology is reshaping work dynamics, offering both opportunities and challenges,” said Emmanuelle Larroque.
In alignment with the agreed conclusions of the 67th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, the event also generated new commitments towards advancing gender equality through innovation and technology.
As a result, 15 new commitment makers were awarded for their dedication the Generation Equality journey, including state institutions, private sector represantives, and academia, such as Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, from Kosovo; Ministry of Digital Development, Innovations and Aerospace Industry, from the Republic of Kazakhstan; Ministry of Communications and Transport, Bosnia and Herzegovina; Ministry on Attracting Youth and Women to the IT Sector, Uzbekistan; Municipality of Prishtina, Kosovo; Vodafone Foundation, Albania; Albanian Diaspora Business Chamber; Bit Alliance, Bosnia and Herzegovina; CITIX, Kazakhstan; Innovation Center Kosovo & Plug and Play Director CEE, Kosovo; Institute of Architecture and Urban & Spatial Planning of Serbia; Yıldız Tech Company, Türkiye; FinTech Association Uzbekistan.
Kristina Erak, Operations Manager of Bit Alliance, an association of the largest IT companies in Bosnia and Herzegovina, stated that they believe that modern technologies and the digitalizations are crucial tools for addressing social issues. “That's why we are here today as commitment maker, and we want to commitment to publishing gender and social inclusion analysis of IT sector in Bosnia and Herzegovina, advocating key recommendations among IT and other sectors as well, supporting all initiatives and conducting media campaings to raise awareness about gender equality”.
The event concluded with a a study visit to the innovative collaborative space Smart Point, where local partners showcased digital projects, products, and solutions to advance gender equality, build resilient societies, safe and smart cities, and initiatives created by or for women and girls in the country.
Generation Equality: A Defining Movement for Gender Equality
Generation Equality is a visionary global initiative committed to fast-tracking investments and actions for gender equality. By fostering collaboration and inclusivity among diverse stakeholders, the initiative seeks to address the most pressing challenges facing women and girls worldwide. Launched in 2021, Generation Equality has set forth a comprehensive Global Acceleration Plan to drive transformative change over the course of five years.
The Global Acceleration Plan, unveiled during the launch of the Generation Equality Forum, outlines a comprehensive five-year action agenda to expedite progress in gender equality. This visionary plan identifies the most critical actions necessary to pave the way for significant advancements over the next five years. The Generation Equality Regional Midpoint Event in Almaty represents a pivotal moment to reflect on the achievements thus far and chart a path forward, reinforcing the commitment of the global community towards realizing gender equality.
- Victoria Puiu
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 All references to Kosovo should be understood in the context of UN Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999).