Zonta International's statement on World Day of Social Justice 2021

The World Day of Social Justice is a time to recognize the need to promote social justice, which includes efforts to tackle issues such as gender equity, exclusion, human rights and social protections. The theme for 2021 is "A Call for Social Justice in the Digital Economy."

Since early last year, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused many to work remotely, allowing for the continuation of business activities. While this crisis has reinforced the growth and impact of the digital economy, the United Nations says it has also "laid bare and exacerbated the growing digital divide within, between and across developed and developing countries, particularly in terms of the availability, affordability and use of information [and communications technology] (ICT) and access to the internet, deepening existing inequalities."

Digital labor platforms provide income-generating opportunities and flexible work arrangements, including for women, migrant workers and more, but they also offer some challenges. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, a persistent gender gap in digital access could be causing millions of women to miss out on work opportunities. GSMA reports that women are 8% less likely than men to own a mobile phone and 20% less likely than men to use the internet on a mobile phone.

The Universal Rights Group says, "At the national and international level, very little action appears to be underway to address the urgent need to close the digital divide as one means to address inequalities in access to basic services during the COVID-19 pandemic."

"The gender gap in the technological divide is another shortcoming the pandemic has revealed," says Zonta International President Sharon Langenbeck. "To come back even stronger after COVID-19, governments and stakeholders must come together to find solutions to achieve sustainable development, the promotion of full employment and gender equity. Women and girls cannot be left even further behind."

Zonta International encourages its members to attend a virtual event to commemorate the 2021 World Day of Social Justice organized by the Permanent Mission of the Kyrgyz Republic to the UN and the International Labour Organization (ILO).

The event, held at 10 a.m. EST on Tuesday, 23 February, will foster dialogue on actions needed to overcome the digital divide, provide decent work opportunities and protect labor rights in the modern era of digital technologies. The findings of the latest ILO flagship report, "World Employment and Social Outlook 2021: The role of digital labour platforms in transitioning the world of work" will also be presented.

20 FEBRUARY 2021