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United Nations

Australian Statement at the Annual Discussion on the integration of a gender perspective throughout the work of the Human Rights Council and that of its mechanisms: The gender digital divide in times of the COVID-19 pandemic, 27 September 2021

I commend the Council for this Annual Discussion on the integration of a gender perspective throughout its work and that of its mechanisms.

Increased reliance on technology for school, work and leisure has created further opportunities, particularly during COVID-19, for perpetrators to abuse, monitor, isolate, humiliate and control, both overtly and covertly.

Such coercion is gendered, overwhelmingly affecting women and girls.

Consistent with our National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and Girls 2010-2022, Australia is examining technology-facilitated abuse across all states and territories.

The 6-7 September National Summit on Women's Safety brought together experts, advocates, service providers and survivors of technology-facilitated abuse to craft an ambitious successor National Action Plan to address this evolving issue.

The Australian Government is investing $26.2 million over four years to address technology-facilitated abuse, improve online safety, develop new guidelines and offer online training to frontline workers to support domestic and family violence survivors safely throughout the pandemic.

In Australia, Indigenous women, young women, pregnant women, women with a disability or chronic health condition, or women experiencing financial hardship are more likely to experience technology-facilitated abuse.

Australia's eSafety Commission – the world's first government agency committed to keeping its citizens safer online – supports Indigenous women through a culturally appropriate grants program.

It also works with partners across Southeast Asia on rights-based online products and services.

Madame President,

How can the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms ensure women and girls are safe online in an increasingly digitalised world?

[243 words]

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