Leveraging blockchain technology in humanitarian settings – opportunities and risks for women and girls

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There is an increasing acknowledgement among policymakers and private-sector partners that we cannot overcome the challenges of our time without harnessing the potential of emerging technologies. As blockchain technology is rapidly being introduced to support work across a wide number of areas of humanitarian action, this article considers its potential impact on women and girls. The article draws on experiences emerging from UN Women’s explorations of blockchain technology and the first gender-responsive pilot targeting Syrian refugee women in UN Women’s cash-for-work programme in Jordan. The article reminds us how important it is to introduce technologies in ways that maximise their potential to advance gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in humanitarian settings, and minimise the risk of doing harm. Without conscious commitment to these aims, blockchain technology may exacerbate the marginalisation of women and girls.