Earlier this week, dozens of people – including the Microsoft New York team – gathered at the UN Women headquarters in midtown Manhattan to take part in a fascinating workshop on how technology can keep girls and young women safe. After an introduction by Ravi Karkara (Senior Advisor for Strategic Partnership and Advocacy at UN Women), I represented Microsoft in a panel discussion with Roya Mahboob (CEO of the Digital Citizen Fund), Nancy Schwartzman (Founder and CEO of Circle of 6), and Sree Srinivasan (Chief Digital Officer for New York City) that was moderated by Dr. Shruti Kapoor (Founder of Sayfty). Each of the panelists shared examples of how technology can help – from Nancy’s personal safety app that has been highlighted at the White House to Sree’s portfolio as a leading technologist on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s staff to Roya first-hand experiences as a female entrepreneur in Afghanistan.
One particular message I stressed was the importance of ethics in how we develop and use technology. Technology offers us incredible opportunities to improve the safety of girls and young women. But it’s up to us – as companies, governments, academic institutions, non-profits, families, and individuals – to ensure that promise is fulfilled and that such positive impacts of technology are prioritized.
After the panel surfaced these key issues, all of the event participants got involved by brainstorming ideas and sharing with the room in an open discussion. UN Assistant Secretary-General Madame Lakshmi Puri delivered closing remarks that placed the workshop in the context of the varied efforts and initiatives being undertaken by UN Women and other parts of the United Nations.
This was a very good start.
A look at the day, in tweets:
Tags: #HeForShe, Circle of 6, Dr. Shruti Kapoor, John Paul Farmer, Madame Lakshmi Puri, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Microsoft, Microsoft New York, Nancy Schwartzman, New York, Ravi Karkara, Roya Mahboob, Sayfty, Sree Srinivasan, Tech for Girls' Safety, UN, UN Women