Women’s digital inclusion is key to sustainable economic growth

Woman 20 Summit in BerlinLast week, as thousands of young women participated in International Girls in ICT Day events around the globe, the ‘W20’ in Germany issued a declaration, entitled “Putting Gender Equality at the Core of the G20.”

The declaration stated that “the G20’s goal of inclusive and sustainable economic growth in an interconnected world will not be achieved without the G20’s commitment to women’s economic empowerment.”

The move for Germany to commit to take this issue to the G20 marks the first time this has happened at this level – and it illustrates growing political momentum to tackle the digital gender divide.

In the same week, ITU along with sister United Nations agencies including UN Women, ITC and UNCTAD and private sector partners including Vodafone and GSMA, participated in a panel discussion on The Gender Dimension of E-commerce during E-Commerce Week in Geneva, Switzerland.

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Women’s full participation in e-commerce and society is necessary for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, and specifically SDG 5 targeted at gender equality. Other international and intergovernmental frameworks also reflect the global commitment to promote empowerment of women, and to make them more vocal and visible, such as Addis Ababa Action Agenda 2015, Implementing WSIS Outcomes: A Ten-Year Review, and most recently in the W20 Communique to the G20.

“E-commerce is [the] present and future and it will not happen without women as leaders, entrepreneurs, employers, employees and consumers,” said Lakshmi Puri Deputy Executive Director at UN Women, in her opening remarks at  E-Commerce Week.

ITU’s role in leading change

ITU is proud to be leading initiatives such as Girls in ICT Day and EQUALS, and working with our partners to promote women’s “digital leadership.” And we commit to strengthening the empowerment of women through digital technologies, and commend the outcomes of the W20 Communique.

We know that we need to promote not only access but also digital skills and career advancement for both boys and girls for the digital economy to benefit all. We need to take a bottom-up approach to bridge the digital gender gap, to come together, share best practices and experiences, promote positive role models to encourage the youth to take up digital skills for their future.

RELATED: International #GirlsinICT Day: Women in tech pave the way for the next generation

ITU has many initiatives designed to help women come together and promote their involvement in ICT including: Girls in ICT Day, Network of Women in radio communication and standardization sector, the GEM-TECH awards, and the Global Partnership for Gender Equality in the Digital Age (EQUALS).

As future economic growth depends on the full participation of women, we commend the work of the W20 and look forward to carrying forward its recommendations – for the economic benefit of all.

Doreen Bogdan-Martin

Doreen Bogdan-Martin (@DoreenBogdan) has been the Chief of the Strategic Planning and Membership Department since  2008. She was previously the Head of the ITU/BDT Regulatory and Market Environment Division and was responsible for the programmes on Regulatory Reform and Economics and Finance.

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