This session is an engagement opportunity for delegates to learn more about EQUALS Global Partnership and explore opportunities to leverage this global initiative to achieve the shared goal of bridge the gender digital divide. Further, this will be an opportunity to understand why and how delegates can:
- Raise awareness on initiatives aimed at enhancing women’s digital skills to increase participation of women in the ICT workforce and as business owners
- Increase representation of governments and the private sector in our shared effort of bridging the gender digital divide
- Take action towards increasing the technical capacity of women and girls and the inclusion of women in tech organizations at all levels and with equal conditions
- Highlight opportunities and ways to engage with the EQUALS community and support our work, making it visible and sustainable
This discussion was organised by EQUALS, a global partnership initiated five years ago by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and UN Women with the aim of reversing the increasing gender digital divide. It now has 90 partners around the world. All speakers were either members of or deeply involved with EQUALS, so the session also served as an introduction to the partnership’s work.
The Executive Director of International Trade Centre, which is underlining female leadership in the industry, reported that it takes three aspects into account to improve the situation: the leader herself, her skillset and her confidence; the ecosystem and its possible bias; and access to financing.
A similar approach was revealed by the representative of the European Commission’s Directorate-General Connect. The fight against stereotypes, funding and support for training, and the fostering of female entrepreneurship top their agenda. He admitted that the European Commission is not yet a partner of EQUALS but he professed to be confident that it will be in the near future.
An important contribution to the work of the partnership is made by its research group, led by the United Nations University and comprising teams from 30 universities across the world. It has recently published its first report: Taking stock: Data and evidence on gender equality in digital access, skills and leadership.
For the industry, the Director of Corporate Social Responsibility EMEA of the software company SAP SE told the audience that one of her company’s pledges to the partnership is to have 30 % women in leadership positions by 2022, and to have also closed the gender pay gap by then. SAP also took a leaf out of the European Commission’s book by transferring the idea of European Code Week to Africa, focusing on girls and women. Africa Code Week was established in 2015 and has so far seen 1.4 million girls and women participate in workshops across the continent.
The gender digital divide is entrenched and growing, but with the efforts of EQUALS and other partnerships and organisations dedicated to removing the barriers for girls and women there is hope that it will be possible to reverse the trend.