Business | Leadership & Communication | Technology

SheLeadsTech goes to the United Nations

13 Jul 2018, by Amy Sarcevic

Jo Stewart-Rattray made the connection of a lifetime at last year’s ISACA Oceania CACS event in Canberra.

The Founder of SheLeadsTech – a program which seeks to empower women to carve out careers in the technology – had a serendipitous encounter which ultimately saw her representing Australia at the United Nations’ 62nd Session on the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW62).

Ahead of her keynote at this year’s ISACA Oceania CACS Conference, 3-4 September, Melbourne Ms. Stewart-Rattray touched on her experience and some of the outcomes of CSW62, held in March this year.

Tell us a little about SheLeadsTech; and why do you think it helped you score this prestigious opportunity?

SheLeadsTech is an ISACA program that seeks to address the under-representation of women in tech-related professions. This issue is of increasing importance to Australia. But it is also a major global issue, which requires collective input and agreement from constituent countries. We need to foster a world-wide culture of acceptance, where women feel validated and confident to take on senior technology roles and have an accessible pathway to do so.

How did it feel to be part of the United Nations delegation and what was your specific role?

It was one of the most incredible experiences and I am just so lucky to have been given the opportunity. I was one of two non-governmental, civil society representatives at the Commission; and was able to offer perspectives from both rural Australia (where I live) as well as providing insights that relate to my background in Technology. This ensured that clauses were relevant and applicable, in a corporate context and Australia-wide.

What were some of the key issues that were raised by member states?

Accessibility was a major theme, but one which took varying forms from country to country. In less developed countries, I was shocked to learn that a lack of access to feminine sanitation was deterring pubescent girls from attending school during menstruation; and meant that they were falling behind their male counterparts. In more developed countries, gender stereotypes were raised as a significant issue – as they are continuing to deny a lot of women a sense of empowerment.

Was the meeting a success?

The meeting was a great success, owing largely to the contribution of Australia’s Chief Negotiator, who was just incredible. She had the respect of many countries and was able to encourage a meeting of minds. Six years ago, member states at the CSW were not able to agree on a set of conclusions, which meant that afterwards they were left grappling with the theme of gender equality without any clear roadmap. In this session, an agreement was reached and we now have a tangible set of interventions to work with.

Jo Stewart-Rattray will share further details about her experience at the United Nations CSW62 meeting and talk in further about SheLeadsTech at the ISACA Oceania CACS Conference – to be held 3-4 September in Melbourne.

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