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Gender, rights, and the digital transformations for health: Insights from the CSW68


The Commission on the Status of Women held its 68th Session in New York on 11-12 March 2024.

This article outlines some of the key outcomes of the proceedings with a particular focus on how the Commission approaches the digital transformations for health as a means of improving the health and well-being of young women and girls, empowering young people through civic participation during the session and ultimately calls on the commission to better address the important intersection of gender, digital transformations and health and well-being by CSW69. 

What is CSW?

The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is a global intergovernmental body dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. It is a functional commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and is the principal global policy-making body dedicated exclusively to gender equality and the advancement of women.

CSW holds an annual two-week session at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, typically in March. During this session, representatives of UN Member States, UN entities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from all regions of the world gather to discuss progress and challenges in achieving gender equality and women empowerment.


The theme of the 68th session of CSW was “Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in the context of climate change, environmental and disaster risk reduction policies, and programs.” This theme highlighted the intersectional nature of gender equality and the impact of climate change and environmental degradation on women and girls, particularly in vulnerable and marginalized communities. The discussions at CSW68 focused on strategies to address these challenges and empower women and girls to participate fully in efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change and environmental risks, they also highlighted AI’s potential to analyze complex data sets and identify gender-specific impacts of these challenges, aiding in the development of targeted policies and programs.

The key issues and goals of this session were: 

  1. Examine how current economic, ecological, and geo-political crises impact women and girls and the need for reform of the international financial architecture to respond to multiple crises.
  2. Address poverty and share good practices for strengthening institutions and maximizing financing to achieve gender equality and women and girls’ empowerment.
  3. Analyze the use of artificial intelligence to advance gender equality, focusing on the challenges and opportunities presented by AI in this context.
  4. Enhance social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and resource mobilization.

The key outcomes of the CSW68 highlighted the need for a comprehensive approach to sustainable development, integrating gender perspectives into all policies and programs. It recognized the disproportionate impact of poverty on women and girls, particularly concerning access to resources, education and decision-making. The Commission also addressed the intersectionality of gender inequality with other forms of discrimination by : 

  1. Emphasizing the urgent need to address violence against women and girls, including online gender-based violence. 
  2. Acknowledging the critical role of women in climate action, peacebuilding and security. 
  3. Calling for greater efforts to ensure their full participation and rights.
  4. Shining a light on the importance of education, health, social protection, and digital inclusion in empowering women and girls and eradicating poverty and inequality.

Digital Transformations for Health (DTH-Lab) at the CSW68

Digital transformations for health encompass a wide selection of technologies and innovations that aim to improve healthcare delivery and outcomes via digital tools. These include telemedicine, electronic health records, wearable devices, sensors, as well as artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning.

These technologies can improve access to healthcare services, especially for those in remote or underserved areas, lead to earlier detection of health issues and more timely interventions, reduce the costs and improve the overall quality of care, and empower individuals to take a more active role in managing their health by providing them with access to information and tools to monitor and track their health metrics. 

One agreed conclusion from the CSW68 was that improved investments in health technologies should be developed for women’s and girls’ health and well-being: 

  • “Increase financial investments in quality, affordable, resilient and accessible public health-care systems and facilities, and in safe, effective, quality, essential and affordable health-care services, including preventive, diagnostic, curative and rehabilitation services, and sexual and reproductive health-care services, as well as in health technologies, including digital health technologies and digital tools developed for women’s and girls’ health and well-being; promote decent work with adequate remuneration for women working in the health and social sectors, effective retention and equitable and broad distribution of the health workforce, and in capacities to optimize the existing health workforce; address all rare, communicable and non-communicable diseases, including HIV and AIDS, and waterborne and neglected tropical diseases, and provide information on nutrition and healthy lifestyles, including through community outreach and private sector engagement, and with the support of the international community, with a view to supporting each country’s path towards achieving universal health coverage for all women and girls, including those living in poverty.” 

For CSW69, it would be valuable to have more sessions and side events dedicated to exploring the intersection of digital transformations, health, and women’s rights. The digital transformations are shaping all areas of life and this must be better represented within the CSW discussions. Women play a vital role in shaping our future in the civic space, they design and implement digital and AI solutions and they provide a substantial amount of healthcare globally making up 67% of the global health and social care workforce. These discussions could enhance the members of the commission and other participants’ understanding of how digital technologies can be leveraged to address gender inequalities in healthcare, promote equal representation in the design and implementation of digital technologies and AI, and advance digital health citizenship by empowering young women and girls through capacity building in digital, health and civic literacy. 

Youth Participation 

CSW provides several mechanisms and events that focus on youth engagement and empowerment:

  • Youth Dialogue: A space for cross-regional networking among young people engaged in various areas of gender and social justice. These dialogues allow young people to directly engage with policymakers, share their perspectives and contribute to the discussions on gender equality and women’s empowerment.
  • Youth Forum:  The Youth Forum runs parallel to the official session and provides a space for young people to discuss key issues, share best practices and develop recommendations for advancing gender equality. It also allows youth to network with each other and with experts in the field.
  • Youth-led Side Events: Youth-led organizations and initiatives can hold side events during the session. These events provide additional opportunities for young people to showcase their work, share their experiences, and contribute to the discourse on gender equality.
  • Youth Delegations: Some countries and organizations sponsor youth delegations to participate in CSW. These delegations allow young people to attend the session, engage in the discussions, and represent the voices of youth from their respective regions.
  • Youth Statements: Youth representatives can deliver statements during the session, either independently or as part of a group. These statements allow young people to raise key issues, share recommendations and advocate for youth-centered approaches to gender equality.

Despite the importance of youth engagement and the different mechanisms provided by the United Nations, there are still several challenges in ensuring young people’s participation in events like CSW, ECOSOC or UNGA. Barriers that limit participation include limited funding and resources available, particularly considering the high costs associated with travel and accommodation in New York and the complexities of obtaining a US visa in addition to the lack of information and inadequate representation. Efforts to address these barriers and enhance youth participation are essential for creating more inclusive and effective decision-making processes at the global level.


As we reflect on the discussions and outcomes of CSW68, it is clear that there is still much work to be done. To accelerate progress towards gender equality, we must all take action. Governments, member states, NGOs and international organizations must prioritize funding and policies that promote gender equality and ensure access to quality healthcare, education, and economic opportunities for all women and girls. Calling for improved investment in health technologies that are developed for women’s and girls’ health and well-being is a good first step but we need to translate this recommendation into action. Civil society organizations must continue to advocate for gender-responsive policies, hold governments accountable for their commitments, and foster meaningful youth participation in these civic spaces. Individuals can contribute by challenging gender stereotypes, supporting women’s leadership, and promoting gender equality in their communities. 



Regional Youth Champion
Imane Lakbachi is a youth and gender equality advocate from Morocco, she is the Director of Network Engagement at IYAFP, the Founder of Concealed Narratives, and a TransformNorms Fellow at the Apolitical Foundation.

Imane Lakbachi

Imane Lakbachi