OEWG Women in Cyber 1

Women in Cyber Fellowship come together for the UN Open Ended Working Group (OEWG)

Australia, together with Canada, The Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States, launched the Women in International Security and Cyberspace Fellowship in February 2020.
OEWG Women in Cyber 1
OEWG Women in Cyber Fellowship

Australia, together with Canada, The Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States, launched the Women in International Security and Cyberspace Fellowship in February 2020. The Fellowship provides early to mid-career female diplomats from with training on multilateral negotiations, cyber policy and international law and sponsors travel to New York to join their national delegations to UN meetings that consider responsible state behaviour in cyberspace, including at the UN Open Ended Working Group on the use of ICTs in the context of International Security (OEWG). Australia supports Fellows from Southeast Asia and Pacific Island countries, including Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tuvalu, Niue, and Tokelau.

As noted by Under Secretary-General Nakamitsu, when opening the Women in International Security and Cyberspace Fellowship in February 2020, peace deals stick better and last longer when women are included at the table. The Fellowship promotes greater diversity and inclusiveness – both from a gender and a geography perspective – in cyberspace and critical technology discussions and decisions with global implications.

From 28 March to 1 April 2022, the Women in International Security and Cyberspace Fellowship came together for the second session of the UN Open Ended Working Group on Cyber (OEWG). Fellows joined their national delegations to participate in formal sessions of the OEWG, and participated in side events and mentoring, including discussions on international law and disarmament.  

As recognised by the Women, Peace and Security agenda, women are differently and uniquely affected by conflict and threats to international peace and security. They also bring unique perspectives and contributions to conflict resolution and peacebuilding. ‘Still Behind the Curve’, a report by United Nations Institute for Disarmament Affairs (UNIDIR) on gender balance in arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament diplomacy, found that the UN First Committee (under which the OEWG is convened) has the lowest proportion of female diplomats of any of the UN General Assembly’s Main Committees. In peace and security debates, 27% of speakers are women; this drops to an average of 20% in forums on more specialised topics such as peace and security in cyberspace. This highlights the need to ensure woman are empowered to participate in the OEWG and in future discussions on responsible state behaviour in cyberspace at the UN.

Over the week’s discussions, over 43% of interventions to the OEWG’s second session were made by women speakers Gender parity was achieved with 50% of international law statements made by women.

OEWG Women in Cyber 2
Women in Cyber (WIC) Fellows & Youth Disarmament Fellows

Women in Cyber (WIC) Fellows & Youth Disarmament Fellows

Australia and the OEWG Secretariat organised a mentoring event bringing together the the Women in Cyber Fellows with the UN Youth Disarmament Fellows. This insightful conversation between WIC experts and Disarmament Youth Fellows discussed responsible innovation and the ethics of technology that should reflect intersectionality in all forms of development. 

OEWG Women in Cyber 3
OEWG Chair Meeting

OEWG Chair Meeting

On the final day of the OEWG second session, the Fellows met with the OEWG Chair, Ambassador Gafoor, to discuss regional engagement, cyber capacity building issues and suggestions, and how the OEWG can address issues of importance to developing countries, small island states and landlocked states.

WIC Fellows Mentoring Breakfast

The Australian hosted WIC Fellows Mentoring Breakfast allowed fellows to discuss career paths, opportunities, and experiences, with senior diplomats and professionals, including Michele Markoff (US), Maartje Peters (ND), and Kerry-Ann Barrett (OAS).

WIC workshop – Roundtable with international law experts (AUS hosted at Mission)

Australia hosted a roundtable discussion that brought together Fellows and international legal experts to discuss pressing issues on how international law applies in cyberspace, and the process and benefits of developing national positions and statements on how international law applies in cyberspace.

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