Fiji Youth delegate, Bulou Gavidi Draunidalo
at the 67th session on Commission on the Status of Women
Youth representatives from Member States, Government representatives, Parliamentarians, national human rights representatives, NGOs in consultative status with ECOSOC, including women’s and youth organizations, representatives of relevant United Nations bodies and the media, greetings from Fiji.
As the youth delegate on my country’s government delegation I would like to use this platform to give a voice to the young girls and women of my country who have experienced in some form or another online sexual harassment, cyber bullying and scamming, due to their gender.
A good percentage of these girls and women continue to receive unwelcome sexual or violent content that makes them feel uncomfortable when engaging online and are forced to cope or adapt as technology facilitated gender based violence is being normalized as part of society.
From being sexualized to being threatened, bullied and scarred by sexual and violent content, girls and women in my country and all over the world are facing additional barriers to digital participation.
As a consequence, the young girls and women are beginning to impose restrictions on how they engage online and self-censoring. The action of others in violating the feelings of our young girls and women has made them feel less confident, vulnerable and as though it is normal to be judged because of their gender.
What young girls and women expect from their governments is the creation of legal infrastructure to address online gender based violence.
What they expect from corporate social media companies are an increasing responsibility to strengthen safety mechanisms and a review of the algorithms that excuse online gender based violence and which perpetuate harms.
Governments must adopt a comprehensive definition of technology-facilitated gender based violence and with the participation of stakeholders such as survivors and women’s organisations in the drafting process, ensure laws and legal protection close the legal loopholes that enforce laws protecting women and girls.
We must all take action against misogynistic hate speech and power which is allowed to spread on social media and leading to the increasing incel culture. We must do more to ensure non-formal education addressing gender stereotypes and consent is mainstreamed.
We must develop, support and strengthen mental health programmes and body-confidence building interventions both online and offline to address young women and girls’ mental health as a result of low body confidence and self-esteem from technology-facilitated gender based violence.
And finally we must commit to preventing the marketing of unobtainable body ideals and increase the representation of diverse young women and girls in the media.