Matters relating to the protection and advancement of women and girls in Antigua and Barbuda was brought to the fore in New York, when Social Transformation Minister Samantha Marshall addressed the 67th session of the Commission on the Status of Women at the UN recently.
She told a roundtable discussion that there must be “inclusive innovation and technological change to empower women and girls and create safer digital spaces”.
Marshall, talked about the country’s interest and investment in Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), saying “that 80 percent of current employment opportunities now and in the future are linked to this field”.
On Wednesday, the world observed International Women’s Day and Marshall used the opportunity to bring to light, the unsafe spaces for women and girls within the digital world.
Marshal also highlights the progress being made in the twin island state to foster safer digital spaces such as the country’s Electronic Crimes Act, and the adoption of remote, virtual testimony through the model sexual offenses court.
“Antigua and Barbuda introduced laws to protect against cybercrimes and acts of electronic abuse to create safe spaces for our girls and women within the digital world. Such legislation penalizes several cybercrimes to include cyber bullying, violation of privacy and pornography,” Minister Marshall shared.
Marshall told the roundtable Antigua and Barbuda has used the digital space to create safe spaces for victims of sexual offences.
“Hence, such victims can give their evidence before the Court free of any intimidation or threat of the accused by doing so virtually in accordance with the relevant legislation. Antigua and Barbuda can and will still do more to ensure that we create safe spaces for our women and girls within the digital world,” Marshall added.
She also talked about opportunities in STEM, which she said have been provided for young women such as the Ministry of Education’s robotics camp which was held for the first time in 2022 and will now be an annual event.
“The Government of Antigua and Barbuda, is committed to fostering equitable participation in tech spaces and to continuously improve legislation to protect women and girls by ensuring equal access and safety through design,” she said.
Adding, “we will also continue to develop programmes and support programmes which ensure that we continue to break the barriers and stigma as to women involved in digital access, innovation and technology,”