Why gender matters in international cyber security

WILPF and the Association for Progressive Communications have co-authored a new report looking at why and how gender matters in international cyber peace and security.

Gender matters in international cyber security. It shapes and influences our online behaviour; determines access and power; and is a factor in vulnerability. As a result, malicious cyber operations can differently impact people based on their gender identity or expression.

While great strides have been made in recognizing the applicability of the human rights framework to threats and abuses against women's digital contexts, including though resolutions and recommendations from authoritative human rights bodies, the gender dimensions of international cyber security remain nearly unexplored.

This report helps to fill that gap. It has been prepared a as submission to the UN Open-ended Working Group (OEWG) on Developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security.

The report identifies multiple gender-differentiated impacts of cyber operations with an international dimension, such as internet shutdowns, data breaches, and disinformation campaigns, and builds the case that these differentiated impacts need to be better accounted for and understood by policy-making and technical communities. The report explores the digital gender gap that exists within cyber diplomacy and policy professions. In order to improve gender diversity and women’s meaningful participation, thereport advocates for solutions that also address problematic underlying gender norms and stereotypes.

Written by Allison Pytlak and Deborah Brown • Published in April 2020 by Reaching Critical Will, a programme of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, and the Association for Progressive Communications

Read WILPF's reporting on OEWG meetings in 2019 and 2020, or view our resource page on the UN's information and communications technology processes and fact sheet on cyber peace and security.