Women in International Security and Cyberspace Fellowship

Table of content

Background information

The Women in International Security and Cyberspace Fellowship (WIC) aims to address the need for a greater proportion of representation from women at the United Nations negotiations concerning cyberspace. The fellowship is jointly organized and sponsored by the Governments of Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The Women in Cyber Fellowship aims to ensure equal and effective representation of women diplomats from all regions in United Nations cyber negotiations. The program seeks to develop cyber governance capacities, providing access to workshops and training as well as direct support to Fellows for their participation in UN First and Third Committee processes.

The current edition of the Fellowship runs in support of the 2021-2025 Open-Ended Working Group on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security (OEWG) in the UN First Committee and the Ad-Hoc Committee Elaborate a Comprehensive International Convention on Countering the Use of Information and Communications Technologies for Criminal Purposes (AHC) in the UN Third Committee.

Added value of the Project

As recognized by the Women, Peace and Security agenda, women are differently and uniquely affected by conflict and threats to international peace and security. UNIDIR’s report into gender balance in arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament diplomacy ‘Still Behind the Curve’, found that the UN First Committee (under which the Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) is convened) has the lowest proportion of female diplomats of any of the UNGA’s Main Committees. In addition, while estimates vary, women represent less than 25 per cent of the cyber security workforce. Combined, this highlights the need to ensure women are empowered to participate in discussions concerning cyberspace.

Expected Outcomes

The fellowship provides opportunities for knowledge and skills development related to cyber diplomacy, with Fellows participating in substantive sessions with their national delegation. The training elements of the fellowship therefore have a particular focus on international security and cybercrime, in addition to exploring the intersections of gendered issues of security with cyber policy.

Actions and Outputs

The organizing countries provide support to fellows in attending negotiations in the UN cyber processes (Open-ended Working Group and Ad-Hoc Committee). The GFCE Secretariat provides administrative support enabling fellows to travel to these meetings. The program of meetings follows the schedules set out by the respective UN Process.

The organizing countries arrange trainings and workshops corollary to the UN substantive sessions. These events are a core feature of the fellowship, helping fellows to prepare for upcoming negotiations, develop knowledge on the substantive content of discussions, as well as developing skills, for example in cyber diplomacy. In July 2022, during the OEWG 3rd Substantive Session in New York, UNITAR hosted the third annual Women in Cyber training programme attended by a group of 24 fellows. The workshops were focused on negotiation, drafting and diplomacy skills.

One of the main aims of the Women in International Security and Cyberspace Fellowship program is the creation of a strong and growing network of female diplomats and other professionals with an interest in cyber and international security issues. In its second edition, the program currently supports over 35 fellows in actively participating in ongoing UN processes and brings those together with alumni in networking events. The program also brings the group together with other Women in Cyber networks and programs, thereby generating external momentum around gender issues in international security.

Events in which the fellows participate

Substantive negotiations of the UN process. Fellows receive support to participate in the meeting.

Substantive negotiations of the UN process. Fellows receive support to participate in the meeting.

Substantive negotiations of the UN process. Fellows receive support to participate in the meeting.

Substantive negotiations of the UN process. Fellows receive support to participate in the meeting.

Substantive negotiations of the UN process. Fellows receive support to participate in the meeting.

Substantive negotiations of the UN process. Fellows receive support to participate in the meeting.

Substantive negotiations of the UN process. Fellows receive support to participate in the meeting.

This workshop provided fellows with an overview of key issues ahead of the second substantive session of the UN Open-ended Working Group (OEWG). The workshop was a refresher on the OEWG – its history, procedural developments, and current status – with fellows discussing strategies for tackling concerns raised by the issues under negotiation.

Contact email

For further enquiries, please reach out to us using the contact details below.

Klara Stankova or the GFCE Secretariat (wic@thegfce.org)