UN Women joins a global conversation on gender, technology and sustainability at Rio+Social


In a dynamic panel discussion at the Rio+Social Summit, UN Women's Executive Director, Michelle Bachelet spoke of women's pivotal role in sustainable development, to an offline audience of more than 600 bloggers and key digital influencers, and an online audience of many thousands more.

“The Gender Impact: Women Making Development Sustainable was streamed live during the day-long summit on 19 June 2011, during the week of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in Rio de Janiero. Ms. Bachelet joined a lineup of world celebrities, global personalities and innovators in technology, business, philanthropy and government as they discussed ways to unlock the power of technology for sustainable development.

Ms. Bachelet highlighted the need for more women to gain equal access to resources and decision-making opportunities. Any road map or framework should be fully participatory, she stressed, and include women's voices, leadership and representation at all levels to ensure sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction. A paradigm shift will be needed, she said, to ensure that the world produces the necessary food, water and energy, as the population grows.

Also on the panel were Radha Muthiah, the Executive Director of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves and Gunilla Carlsson, the Swedish Minister for Development Cooperation. The discussion was moderated by Elda Muller of Editora Abril, a major Brazilian publisher and printing company.

Rural realities were a focus of the dialogue. The importance of clean cookstoves for women was a central part of the conversation, especially for remote areas, where fuels such as kerosene harm the health and finances of families. As noted by Muthiah, women can spend between four to five hours gathering wood for cooking each day. This huge opportunity cost can and has been resolved through the use of clean and efficient stoves and fuels.

The discussion also touched on ways that women have used technology and social media to power innovative solutions for sustainable development, with panelists answering questions from the global online audience, relayed through Twitter.

Rio+Social was organized by the UN Foundation in cooperation with Mashable, Ericsson, EDP (Energias de Portugal), the creative agency LiveAD and the 92nd Street Y. It builds on the first two Social Good Summits organized by the UN Foundation and Mashable during the High-Level meeting on the Millennium Development Goals in 2010 and during the General Assembly in 2011.