Written by Qihua Luo
Translated by H.B. Qin
Edited by Andrea Barkley
The ongoing conversation around women’s rights has long been focused on addressing pressing issues like discrimination, abuse, and persecution. Achieving gender equality is a goal that many groups in today’s society are working towards. The 67th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) occurred in New York from March 6 to 17, 2023. The Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation’s Global Partnership Affairs Department (GPAD) team attended the session. In addition, the team hosted a side event on “Digitalization: Opportunities to Accelerate Meaningful Learning for All” on the evening of International Women’s Day, March 8, 2023.
The session featured Elise Anne DeVido, Ph.D., Associate Professor at the SDG Center of Tzu Chi University, Caitlin McCurn, Senior Director of Global Programs at UNICEF USA, and Keshia Mahmood, Senior Programme Officer at The Asian-Pacific Resource & Research Centre for Women. In the context of the CSW67 Priority Theme, “Innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality,” and the CSW67 Review Theme, “Challenges and opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls,” the meeting explored how to make digital education more accessible to women worldwide amidst the global trend of digital learning.
The session also highlighted successful case studies and methodologies of digital learning from around the world. Participants discussed obstacles, issues, and optimal solutions in current digital learning, with an emphasis on leveraging digital technology to achieve gender equality, enhance the lives of women worldwide, and ultimately realize the goal of equal rights for all women.
Professor Elise Anne DeVido presented three examples of digital teaching initiatives at Tzu Chi University. The first example involved the Tzu Chi Foundation partnering with Tzu Chi University to provide online teaching for children in rural areas who could not attend school due to the pandemic. College students were organized to teach these children remotely. The second example was a mobile app created by Tzu Chi, which provides teenagers with information on sexuality, birth control, and STD prevention, promoting self-protection awareness. The third example was a free online course offered to Syrian refugees in Turkey. These methods have made education more accessible and less restrictive, increasing educational opportunities for women, especially in regions where extreme gender inequality exists.
Sonia Selwin, CEO and Founder of the People Empowerment Alliance for Creativity and Education emphasized women’s empowerment, stating, “When we empower women, families are empowered. When a family is empowered, the whole world is empowered.” Despite this, conservative forces are still attempting to restrict women to traditional roles today.
Selwin stated that it is essential that every woman be aware that they are entitled to the same rights as men, have equal access to education, and possess the freedom to pursue their ambitions, irrespective of where they are in the world.
The Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation collaborates with numerous organizations to spread this message and support women’s self-development.