The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has published a report titled ‘Artificial intelligence and gender equality’, which sets out proposed elements of a framework on artificial intelligence (AI) and gender equality for further consideration, discussion and elaboration among various stakeholders.
As noted by UNESCO: “Research … unambiguously shows that the gender biases found in AI training data sets, algorithms and devices have the potential of spreading and reinforcing harmful gender stereotypes. These gender biases risk further stigmatizing and marginalizing women on a global scale. Considering the increasing ubiquity of AI in our societies, such biases put women at risk of being left behind in all realms of economic, political and social life. They may even offset some of the considerable progress that countries have made towards gender equality in the recent past.”
However, UNESCO notes further that, while AI poses significant threats to gender equality, AI also has the potential to make positive changes in our societies by challenging existing norms. As such, AI has the potential of being part of the solution for advancing gender equality in our societies.
In summary, the report makes the following recommendations:
- Adequately frame the overarching landscape of AI and society, as well as the imperatives of gender equality, including by shifting the narrative of AI as something ‘external’ or deterministic to something ‘human’ that is created, directed and controlled by human beings and reflective of society.
- Significantly strengthen gender equality in AI principles, including by ensuring that gender equality is understood in terms of addressing harm, increasing the visibility of the gendered implications of AI, and encouraging AI’s positive applications and beneficial impacts on women’s empowerment.
- Operationalise gender equality and AI principles, including by increasing awareness, education and skills in society.
- Create gender and AI initiatives, including through coalition building, framework development, awareness-raising, capacity building and research.
The report is accessible here.
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