Call for Applications: UNIDIR Women in AI Fellowship

The United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) – an autonomous institute within the United Nations – is pleased to announce a call for applications for the pilot edition of its Women in AI Fellowship.


Artificial intelligence (AI) has quickly become an omnipresent governance challenge, including within the arena of international security and disarmament. While there is no formal UN process to specifically discuss AI in this context apart from the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems (LAWS), AI is increasingly becoming a topic of discussion within other UN cybersecurity, disarmament and counter-terrorism processes.

However, a common feature of international security processes is the underrepresentation of women. UNIDIR’s research has shown that, on average, only a third of the diplomats accredited to arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament forums are women. As a result, these forums not only lack equitable participation, they also become susceptible to oversights around the gender-specific impacts of weapons and violence. To help avoid this issue and also to ensure that future multilateral processes around AI and security are gender-balanced and gender-sensitive, UNIDIR is stepping up its work on gender and security technology.

The pilot edition of UNIDIR’s Women In AI Fellowship (Women.AI) is a first step in this direction. The Fellowship is designed as a capacity-building intervention that will endow women diplomats with up-to-the-minute knowledge of the policy, legal and technical aspects of AI, including its gendered implications.  Women.AI Fellows will acquire the knowhow, skills, and resources required to engage effectively in multilateral AI discussion in the field of international peace and security.


The Women.AI Fellowship comprises a week-long, in-person training programme in Geneva, as well as a series of engagements with relevant experts and stakeholders. In order to ensure a holistic and effective programme of learning, the Fellowship will be structured around three key pillars:

  1. Education – UNIDIR will provide the Fellows with a substantive introduction to AI technology, including its strengths and limitations; an overview of the possible and observed use cases of AI in security applications; related international security concerns surrounding AI; background to and current multilateral discussions around AI policy and governance; and insights into the link between gender and military AI. Lectures and participatory learning activities will be led by UNIDIR researchers in collaboration with invited organizations and experts.
  2. Exploration – UNIDIR will also facilitate the Fellows’ visits to Geneva-based AI labs and other relevant local organizations employing practical AI solutions. This will allow Fellows to receive targeted briefings and to gain a better sense of the ecosystems involved in AI design, development, deployment and governance.
  3. Networking – UNIDIR will also facilitate Fellows’ interactions with experts and relevant stakeholders to enable the forging of strong connections with the diplomatic community, the private sector and civil society. This will include a) the organization of one reception with the diplomatic community in Geneva, and b) a series of virtual meetings with a group of multi-sectoral experts working at the intersections of gender, security and technology. The makeup of this “Gender and AI Research Network” will be curated by UNIDIR.

Key Dates

  • Sunday 31 March – Deadline for submission of applications (midnight, Geneva time)
  • Monday 22 April – Announcement of selected Fellows
  • Monday 27 MayFriday 31 May – In-person training in Geneva

Selection Criteria

  • The Fellowship is open to women diplomats who:
    • are junior to mid-career level
    • are representatives of UN Member States
    • have a strong command of both written and spoken English
    • have an interest in security, technology and/or gender
  • UNIDIR will select 20 Fellows, of which 10 will be fully sponsored by UNIDIR and 10 will participate at their own or their sponsoring organisations’ expense. Priority for sponsorship will be given to applicants and nominees from developing countries.
  • Applications will be carefully screened by UNIDIR on the basis of the criteria specified above, and applicants will be informed of the result of their application regardless of their selection status.

Application Requirements

UN Member States are invited to nominate women diplomats to the Women.AI, and candidates also have the option of applying directly.

Interested applicants or their diplomatic representations are invited to submit the following supporting documents by email to with the subject line “UNIDIR Women.AI Fellowship Application”:

  • Copy of passport;
  • Curriculum vitae of no more than two pages;
  • Two recommendation letters, one of which should be from the applicant’s national government or diplomatic representation to the UN;
  • A one-page letter of interest detailing the applicant’s experience and interest in the areas covered by the Fellowship, as well as an outline of how they envisage using any new knowledge gained during the programme.

Support from UNIDIR core funders provides the foundation for all of the Institute’s activities. This initiative is also made possible thanks to those donors supporting UNIDIR’s Gender & Disarmament and Security & Technology Programmes specifically: Canada, Czechia, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, and Microsoft.