Exploring the Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Women’s Security in South-East Asia

Exploring the Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Women’s Security in South-East Asia

When it comes to the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) in South-East Asia, there are systemic issues that can jeopardize women’s security. Gender biases present in widely used AI-systems create a significant barrier to leveraging AI for promoting peace and security in the region. Research conducted by UN Women and the United Nations University Institute in Macau (UNU Macau) sheds light on the challenges faced by women human rights defenders (WHRDs) and women’s Civil Society Organizations (WCSOs) in dealing with cyber threats. Despite being aware of these risks, these women are often ill-equipped to prevent or recover from cyber-attacks.

The report titled “Artificial Intelligence and the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in South-East Asia” underscores the importance of understanding the opportunities and risks associated with AI technologies. The research delves into the prevalence of gender biases in AI, including discrimination, stereotyping, exclusion, and insecurity, that need to be addressed for the region to harness the full potential of technological advancements. By focusing on AI for peace, neutral AI, and AI for conflict, the report highlights both the positive and negative impacts of AI on gender-responsive peace and women’s agency in peacebuilding efforts.

In addition to exploring the implications of AI, the second report, “Cybersecurity Threats, Vulnerabilities and Resilience among Women Human Rights Defenders and Civil Society in South-East Asia,” sheds light on cybersecurity risks and vulnerabilities faced by WHRDs and WCSOs. The research emphasizes the gendered nature of cyber threats, where women’s rights advocates are specifically targeted with misogynistic and sexualized harassment. The findings underscore the central role of digital technologies in the work of these organizations while highlighting the disproportionate risks they face, including online harassment, trolling, and doxxing.

As a result of the research conducted over 12 months, actionable recommendations have been put forth to enhance cybersecurity and digital governance in South-East Asia. It is crucial to foster inclusive and collaborative approaches in cybersecurity policy development and engagement, ensuring that the knowledge and skills needed to prevent and respond to cyber threats are widely disseminated among civil society, government, and private-sector actors. Special attention should be given to at-risk individuals and organizations, particularly women’s groups operating in politically volatile and conflict-affected environments.

Moving forward, UN Women and UNU Macau aim to utilize the research findings to develop training materials that will empower women’s rights advocates in the region. These materials, including e-learning modules and training handbooks, will be made available in English, Thai, and Vietnamese to facilitate knowledge-sharing and capacity-building. By equipping stakeholders with the necessary tools and resources, the goal is to promote gender-responsive peace and security initiatives in line with the Women, Peace, and Security agenda.

The intersection of artificial intelligence, digital security, and women’s security in South-East Asia presents both challenges and opportunities. By addressing gender biases in AI systems, enhancing cyber-resilience among women human rights defenders, and promoting inclusive cybersecurity policy development, significant strides can be made towards creating a safer and more secure digital landscape for women in the region.


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