This Policy Report is written by Dr. Tamara Nair, Member of the ASEAN Women for Peace Registry (AWPR), Singapore.
Assuming gender neutrality in digital space does little for gender equality in digital space. This report suggests using the agenda of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR1325) on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) as a framework for addressing issues of gender inequality and violence against women (VAW) in the digital world and indigenising it for ASEAN. The application of this framework goes beyond its provenance in conflict and draws on its roots in human security. The gendered impacts of digital technology and their connection with peace and security are a serious policy blind spot. Adopting the WPS narrative as it stands, created and propagated by mostly North America and Europe, means it does not allow an indigenous interpretation, which might be what is necessary when it comes to ASEAN. Currently the agenda is bereft of a cultural context, which is vital to its realisation in other parts of the world. If ASEAN seeks to move the agenda forward, it has to start with WPS projects that have resonance with all member states, and the agenda should ideally be approached from a human security angle that is relevant to current times, especially in the areas of economic security, digital security and climate security. The year 2021 marked the 21st year of UNSCR1325 and it seems timely that the agenda itself should mature and move into new terrains to address gender equality in new spheres of operation. The digital space and the impending Web 3.0 are presented here as ideal environments for doing so.