On 14 September, UN Women will launch the Global Innovation Coalition for Change (GICC) in New York City. This unique alliance with 22 partners from private sector, non-profit organizations and academic institutions will work over a two-year period to drive industry-wide action to make innovation and technology work better for young women and girls.
The Coalition has the support of a diverse set of global industry leaders, such as BHP Billiton, CISCO, Citi, Dell, Ericsson, Facebook, General Electric, HP Inc., Johnson & Johnson, JPMorgan Chase, LinkedIn, Pax Worldwide Management, PwC, SAP, Sony, South32 and Statoil, all working together to advance the gender equality agenda. The Coalition also includes academic institutions like MIT Solve and New York Academy of Sciences, as well as organizations like Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, Branson Centre for Entrepreneurship (South Africa) and Ellevate Network.
The global partnership will build market awareness of the potential for innovations that meet the needs of women through research and advocacy. The Coalition will also identify the key industry-specific barriers to women’s and girls’ advancement in innovation, technology and entrepreneurship; and work collaboratively to identify key actions to address these barriers and needs. Such actions may include sharing good practices, developing capacity and investing in specific innovations through targeted support.
“Innovation and technology provide unprecedented opportunities to reach those who are the most likely to be left out of the benefits of progress. They can break women out of isolation and create a market for their innovative ideas and products. This is an important asset for gender equality and women’s empowerment, but it also brings broader benefits to society,” said UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.
“Through the Global Innovation Coalition for Change and similar partnerships we can bring together the best of academic brain power and research, industry practical know-how, and civil society’s drive and reach to creatively disrupt the status quo,” she added.
Innovation and technology offer enormous opportunity for women, girls and societies to thrive. For example, according to GSMA—who represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide—closing the gender gap in mobile phone ownership and usage could provide women with access to education, health and financial services, as well as unlock an estimated USD170 billion in market opportunities for the mobile industry by 2020.
However, this potential is constrained by a number of barriers, including the significant under-representation of women in STEM-related fields, a gender-bias in research, and the lack of gender-disaggregated data, all of which limit industries’ understanding of women’s needs, access to, and usage of innovation and technology.
Harnessing the enormous potential and opportunity to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment through innovation and technology will require public-private partnerships that address these challenges in an integrated manner. UN Women’s Global Innovation Coalition for Change is an important step in creating such partnerships to bring about transformative change in the lives of women and girls.
Attended by senior industry and UN leaders, the inaugural meeting of the Coalition will take place on the margins of the UN General Assembly on 14 September, at the SAP Leonardo Centre in New York City.