Integrating gender into cybersecurity and new technologies in the fight against terrorism

Tuesday, 29 June 2021 - 8:00am to 9:30am

Integrating gender into cybersecurity and new technologies in the fight against terrorism


29 June 2021, 08:00-09:30 EDT


Violent extremist and terrorist groups seek to adapt to and use cybersecurity and new technologies such as big data, artificial intelligence (AI), quantum computing, and blockchain to recruit, raise funds and operate. At the same time, such technologies offer new ways to analyse trends and developments in violent extremism and strengthen efforts to counter terrorism (CT) and prevent and counter violent extremism (CT/PCVE). They can also be leveraged as tools in peacebuilding.

However, the use of new technologies and cybersecurity tools in CT /PCVE also carries the risk of perpetuating gendered harms. Social media has been used to spread misogynistic hate speech and various forms of disinformation, including in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. AI, which is used in a growing range of contexts such as biometrics and automated decision-making in immigration and in the judiciary, has been shown to contain gender and racial biases. This has lead to discriminatory practices which disproportionately misidentify women (especially women of colour), unfairly screen them, or fail to take into account their specific circumstances. Similarly, access to new technologies and the advantages that they offer is not equal across different demographics. This digital divide risks perpetuating structural inequality across wealth, racial and gender lines – which may in turn feed back into the conflict cycle and contribute to conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism and violent extremism.

Understanding the gendered impacts of cybersecurity and new technologies in the fight against terrorism is therefore essential in order to avoid bias, ensure human rights compliance and gender-responsiveness, and leverage the potential of new technologies in countering terrorism and building sustainable peace. Accordingly, this side event will link the main theme of the Second High- Level Conference (“Countering and preventing terrorism in the age of transformative technologies: addressing the challenges of the new decade”) with the question of how to effectively mainstream gender considerations in order to ensure that CT /PCVE responses that utilize new technologies are human rights compliant and gender-responsive.

The event will address topics such as the gender dimensions of violent extremism online, preventing gender bias in AI, and using technology to achieve sustainable peace. The panellists will also highlight the gendered implications of cybersecurity approaches and how to integrate gender into cyber-governance. In addition to remarks from the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT), the Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED), and the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) and presentations by academic experts, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN- Women), the National Security Council of Thailand, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Thailand will also present related good practices from Asia and the Pacific.

The side event will help raise awareness of challenges, good practices and substantive entry points for the mainstreaming of gender perspectives into CT /PCVE policies and programming that make use of new technologies and cybersecurity.

The side event is organized by the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT), the Counter Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED), the National Security Council of Thailand, Canada, Norway, and UNDP Thailand.

The concept note and agenda for the virtual side event is available here.

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