CSW67 event highlights digitalization’s potential to bridge the gender gap in mountains


"Technologies such as the internet are allowing mountain women to organize themselves into 'networks of solidarity'," said Sara Manuelli, Advocacy and Outreach Officer at the Mountain Partnership Secretariat, at the 67th session of the Commission on the Status of Women.

She was speaking at an information day on bridging the gender gap in rural mountainous regions. The aim of the event was to investigate the challenges women and girls from different mountain regions face and to highlight the potential of digitalization, among other factors, to foster a more inclusive and just future for women and girls.

Women play a crucial role in mountain communities as the main holders of traditional knowledge and key actors in contributing to climate change adaptation, yet their voices are often unheard and their work invisible. Mountain communities, and in particular women and girls, suffer from a lack of access to resources, services and opportunities. Climate change and the digital divide affect mountain regions disproportionally, even more so women and girls, widening existing gender inequalities and posing unique threats to their livelihoods, health and safety.

Manuelli reminded audiences that International Mountain Day (IMD) 2022 focused on mountain women and their potential to be agents of change when they have equal rights and opportunities. She presented the publication Mountain women of the world – Challenges, resilience and collective power, published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the Mountain Partnership Secretariat and the Feminist Hiking Collective on the occasion of IMD 2022.

Based on in-depth interviews with 313 mountain women across Argentina, Chile, Italy, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, the Plurinational State of Bolivia and the United Republic of Tanzania, one of the things the study showed was how technology is supporting women's empowerment, including their economic autonomy. Digital tools are allowing mountain women to form networks in which they can learn from each other and exchange experiences.

"Improving their lives requires funding and a series of policies, including granting women the right to resources and services under equal conditions as men and facilitating their access to markets through training and priority access to financial services", said Manuelli.

Other speakers at the session included Magdalena Kubal-Czerwińska of Poland's Department of Tourism and Health Resort Management, Theresia Oedl-Wieser of Austria's Federal Institute of Agricultural Economics, Rural and Mountain Research, Omer Aijazi of the IUCN Mountain Ecosystems Group, Cristina dalla Torre of Eurac Research, Alessandra Piccoli of the Free University of Bolzano, and Ilina Arsova, a mountaineer, environmental activist and artist. Moderation was provided by Harald Egerer, Head of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Vienna Office and Secretariat of the Carpathian Convention.

The meeting was sponsored by UNEP and organized by the NGO Committee on the Status of Women Vienna, the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development Vienna, and the Alliance of NGOs on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, with the support of Eurac Research.

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Photo: ©Prosper Mwimanzi

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