WSIS Report – Session 281: The Need for An Evidence-Based Approach to Tackle the Gender Digital Divide

WSIS Forum 2018

The session, moderated by Ms Alison Gillwald, executive director, Research ICT Africa, presented an update of the Action Map that aims to record initiatives which work in closing the global gender digital divide. The session also featured discussion on the need for an evidence-based approach to tackle the gender digital divide.

The session started with an interactive quiz that asked participants three questions:
  • Which African country featured in the top 10 WEF Global Gender Gap Index 2016?
  • According to EY Women Fast Forward, how many years will it take to achieve gender parity?
  • McKinsey (2015) estimated that advancing women’s equality could add USD$ 12 trillion to global GDP by 2025. Which countries have this combined annual GDP?
Following the quiz, panellists debated their points of view about the topic, their achievements, and challenges.
Mr George Anthony Giannoumis, assistant professor, Faculty of Technology, Art and Design, Oslo and Akershus University of Applied Sciences, highlighted the importance of discussing intersectionality. Giannoumis considered that it is necessary to understand what privacy in the digital world means for everyone, especially for women, and how to apply this right in practice across different jurisdictions. He also said that a joint effort between stakeholders is important in gathering more evidence about the gender digital divide.
Ms Roberta Cocco, councillor, Digital Transformation and Citizen’s Services, Municipality of Milan, talked about the Milan digital transformation project, and how the gender divide in the city is being addressed. Cocco said that gender data is collected in every project that is being run. Another important point is to bring women in to conduct projects. A week before the session, the Mayor of Milan invited all Italian Mayors to make a commitment to combat the gender divide in Italy. Cocco also mentioned the importance of government working with the private sector, especially to achieve global guidelines on privacy.
Mr Michael Best, director, United Nations University (UNU), started his participation by talking about the gap on data about gender, saying that there is not enough evidence available for arguing about the gender digital divide. He raised the concern that almost all gender data is based on a binary vision, but it is important to change to a non-binary gender view. Best said that there is gender gap when we think about the use of more sophisticated or more expensive services. According to him, the construction of digital platforms was made without the involvement of women, and this is a problem for inclusiveness in their use. He also mentioned that there is low participation by women in startups, especially in the leadership of startups.
Ms Beate Degen, partner, EY, Germany, said that many people do not feel the gender digital divide is a problem. She said that it is important to collect meaningful data that can increase the transparency about where the gaps are on gender. According to Degen, most apps are produced by men, and although they may have the best intentions, this is a problem which needs to be solved. She felt that one solution is to involve more girls, by bringing ICT into schools.
Mr Jose Maria Diaz Batanero, strategy and policy coordinator, International Telecommunication Union (ITU), talked about the Action Map (link is external) initiative promoted by EQUALS. According to him, many institutions have data about the gender digital divide, but use different approaches for collection. EQUALS aims to find projects in countries, and put them in contact with each other to encourage collaboration. Batanero said that it is important to share experiences and lessons learned between different projects around the world. In conclusion he said that more research on this topic is needed.
Dr Mariagrazia Squicciarini, Working Party on Industry Analysis (WPIA), Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), talked about the gender digital gap especially in high skill areas. According to Squicciarini, the proportion of women in innovation teams is very low, and it is important to think about policies that help push forward and empower women. For companies, it is essential to have mixed teams, especially in the world of innovation. She said that it is necessary to think about social networks to enable women to participate more in the work force. Squicciarini also said that because women live longer, they use more of government’s basic services, which nowadays are accessed through the Internet.
By Nathalia Sautchuk Patrício for GIP Digital Watch Observatory 

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