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The UAE Gender Balance Council (UAE GBC), in cooperation with The Global Council on Sustainable Development Goal 5 (SDG5), hosted a workshop focussing on the development of policy guidelines for the prevention and addressal of Tech-Facilitated Gender-based Violence (TFGBV) on October 30, 2023, at the Government of Dubai Media Office.
The workshop brought together experts and policy-makers from the government, international organisations, and tech companies to collaboratively define areas for collaboration and outline priorities for developing policy guidelines concerning addressing and preventing gender-based violence through digital platforms, using technology as a tool.
Collaborating for the Future
On behalf of Her Excellency Mona Ghanem Al Marri, Vice President of the UAE Gender Balance Council, Chairman of The Global Council of SDG5, Ruqayya Albloushi, Executive Director of International Relations at the Prime Minister’s Office at the Ministry of Cabinet Affairs, welcomed the participants during her opening remarks. She noted that the Global Councils on the Sustainable Development Goals were established during the 2018 World Government Summit to bring together a unique interdisciplinary network of decision-makers from governments, international organisations, academia, charitable organisations, and the private sector to implement innovative projects and discuss the creative implementation of the 17 SDGs at national and global levels.
Her Excellency Mona Al Marri commented: “In today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape, we find ourselves facing a pressing situation. The world is witnessing an unprecedented surge in globalised cross-border data flows, coupled with the proliferation of digital spaces, and often marked by highly ungoverned online exchanges.”
Her Excellency noted that the creation of these vital guidelines for preventing gender-based violence within the digital realm is an embodiment of the UAE GBC’s pursuit to achieve the 5th Sustainable Development Goal and that this embodies the Council’s unwavering commitment to uplifting women worldwide, fostering gender balance, and championing empowerment on a global scale.
Her Excellency added: “It’s about transforming the world by enhancing gender balance, empowering women globally, and eradicating the many forms of violence that women endure. By collaborating, we can address and conquer this challenge.”
TFGBV Workshop Discussion
At the start of the discussion, Elena Siegel, Partner at Kearney and member of SDG5, moderated the discussion and said: “We aim to identify areas in which the existing policy landscape can be strengthened and understand where government and private sector organisations can collaborate to address these issues.”
The workshop centred its discussion on identifying prevalent forms of TFGBV, regional variations in TFGBV type, incidence, and responses, as well as measuring and tracking the impact of TFGBV. It also explored existing policy interventions and guidelines and the initiatives taken by tech companies for TFGBV addressal. This initiative aims to inform and guide policymakers in addressing the growing forms of gender-based violence in the digital realm.
During the thought-provoking workshop, policy-makers and tech companies engaged in dynamic discussions, realising that the battle against gender-based violence online must primarily begin within the private sector, recognising the challenges these organisations face in addressing these issues.
They pointed out that in this constantly evolving technological landscape, being reactive is no longer sufficient. The focus shifted towards proactive solutions, introducing future-proof measures that can withstand the test of time and the need to act swiftly.
The tech company representatives noted that adopting principle-based approaches and fostering crucial partnerships between the private and government sectors is the right path to prevent misinformation. The private sector’s collaboration with the UAE government and law enforcement was highlighted as paramount, ensuring a clear point of contact and a unified approach to tackle these issues.
They explored ways to proactively incorporate protective measures into the early stages of policy design to mitigate the risk of gender-based violence. Additionally, they sought opportunities for global cooperation to address and respond to this issue, particularly considering its potential to manifest in new forms in the future.
Combating Tech-Facilitated Gender-Based Violence Together
Given the rapid technological advancements, including artificial intelligence and virtual reality, the session also examined how guidelines could remain sustainable and adaptable to the ever-evolving tech landscape.
This workshop catalysed a comprehensive approach to address gender-based violence online, combining technology, education, awareness, and policy-making, all aimed at creating a safer and more inclusive digital world. The UAE GBC and the Global Council on SDG 5 recognise these challenges and understand the importance of policymakers working together to contribute to the development of a new policy note and guideline to help address the challenges in combating tech-facilitated gender-based violence.