DLI, EU Women20 promote Digital Equity for SDGs

On 5 May 2022 online, the Brussels-based Digital Leadership Institute and EU Women20 Delegation to the G20 jointly organized an official side-event of the UN Science, Technology and Innovation Forum on the SDGs (“STI Forum”), on the topic of “Digital Equity for Women’s Economic Agency.” The event addressed the intersecting priorities of closing the gender digital divide and promoting women’s financial independence as economic actors—namely as entrepreneurs, experts and leaders in critical STEM sectors, especially Technology—as an explicit objective of international development policy and as the surest path to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. 

Key recommendations gleaned from the gathering include the following:

  1. Prioritize development funding and programs with an explicit focus on closing the digital gender divide — i.e. through digital skills programs and actions to increase access to and use of technology and infrastructure, for girl and women beneficiaries;
  2. Prioritize development funding and programs with an explicit focus on increasing women’s economic agency through technology, e.g. by supporting women as entrepreneurs in tech-driven and tech-enabled startup, and through paid apprenticeship programs with job placement for women in emerging technology fields such as AI, cybersecurity, big data, machine learning, etc.;
  3. Increase capacity-building for the fore-mentioned activities by supporting best practice-sharing, networking building and by promoting opportunities to replicate and scale successful regional programs tackling “digital equity and women’s economic agency” in all directions and across global geographies (North-South, South-North, North-North, South-South);
  4. Increase structural support and promote a healthy ecosystem that supports women as independent economic actors by addressing underlying inequities women face as entrepreneurs and as leaders in digital fields, including by: i) setting ambitious gender-specific development program goals for reach, participation and program success; ii) collecting and sharing gender- and sex-disaggregated program data; iii) ear-marking development funds with the specific mission to close the gender digital gap for women’s economic empowerment;
  5. Take concrete action to ensure women’s equal access to and use of: i) Digital/ICT training programs and related resources, including acceleration, incubation and (IT) leadership-training programs; ii) entrepreneurship finance and investment, especially venture capital, and other resources (mentorship, coaching, financial literacy); and iii) distribution channels and supply chains, including for international trade and e-commerce, with specific targets for women’s equal participation in public sector procurement;
  6. Build and deploy programs that specifically focus on increasing technology leadership–as entrepreneurs, experts and leaders–by mature women, women in transition, migrant women and women living in rural areas.

Panel interventions reflected a broad and ambitious spectrum of key voices promoting Digital Equity and Women’s Economic Agency from around the world, including:

The Digital Equity event was streamed live on the STI Forum platform and DLI YouTube channel, and joined remotely by virtual participants. It took the form of a panel discussion moderated by Cheryl Miller, DLI Director and Co-head of EU G20 Women20 Delegation, with support from Loredana Bucseneanu, DLI Development Director, and key G20 Women20 partners including: Katharina Miller, Co-head of EU Delegation; Tamara Dancheva, EU Delegate; and Virginia Littlejohn, Co-head of US Delegation. 

A video of the event is available here (Passcode: FaPH3Yf), and inquiries about this and future events may be directed to DLI

Digital Equity for Women’s Economic Agency at STI Forum 2022

Event Registration Link: http://bit.ly/deweaSTI22

Online on 5 May 2022, 18:00-19:15CET / 12:00-1:15pm EST, the G20 Women20 European Union Delegation and Brussels-based Digital Leadership Institute are proud to organize “Digital Equity for Women’s Economic Agency,” an official side-event of the UN ECOSOC’s 7th Multi-Stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the SDGs (STI Forum).

Confirmed Speakers:

Format: This event will feature a Roundtable, with interventions by representatives of public and private organizations promoting women’s economic empowerment and closing the gender digital divide for economic recovery and sustainable development. A Question & Answer session open to the public will follow the Roundtable.

Moderator: The event will be moderated by Cheryl Miller, Co-head of the G20 Women20 European Union Delegation, and Director of the Digital Leadership Institute

Registration: This online event is open to the public and registration is required. The event will be organized on Zoom and accessed via the STI Forum Whova platform which is still in process. Those who register via Zoom will also have access. Please stay tuned.

Live Stream: The event will also be streamed live on the DLI YouTube channel.

Concept Note:

Anywhere in the world today, a woman is: 

  • Less likely to be online;
  • More likely to have low or no digital skills;
  • Less likely to be an IT professional; and 
  • Far less likely to launch a tech-driven enterprise.

As a result, women are at greater risk of being excluded by the digital disruption, a phenomenon exacerbated by the COVID pandemic.

COVID has disproportionately impacted women—forcing millions out of the workplace, many permanently. In response, entrepreneurship is and will continue to be a key factor in sustaining financial independence for women and in reigniting the global economy.  In the digital society, such participation is increasingly linked to skills supporting both digitally-enabled and digitally-driven entrepreneurship.

However, a key characteristic of the digital disruption which cuts across geographic locations and socio-economic conditions is that, no matter where they are in the world, women are less likely to be online than men. Of the Earth’s 7.8 billion human population, men make up thirty percent and women twenty-five percent of people who are online, reflecting 195 million fewer women online overall. Despite a surge in online participation during the COVID pandemic, the rate at which women go online continues to lag behind. This ubiquitous and persistent trend represents the digital divide compounded by the gender gap which, without focused effort to address it, risks widening.

In countries where digitalization has a firmer hold, women are still less likely to have digital skills, take up formal computer science or other STEM studies, or hold technical and leadership roles in IT organizations. Globally, the founder of a digitally-driven enterprise is five times more likely to be a man than a woman, and in many places the ratio is closer to ten-to-one.

In addition to the yawing social divide this reality reflects, italso represents a loss for the global economy and for women themselves who are unable to fully realize their potential as economics actors in an increasingly digital society. In 2013, the UN reported that bringing 600 million women and girls online could boost global GDP by up to $18B. A European study of the same period suggests that equal participation of women in the ICT sector would contribute as much as €9B annually to the European economy. Especially as a response to the COVID-induced “She-cession,” action to tackle the gender digital divide presents an opportunity to improve women’s economic agency, address the digital skills and job gap, and promote a pathway toward sustainable development.

Regardless of geography, closing the gender digital divide presents a critical factor in ensuring women’s economic agency, previously and again at present, in order to promote economic development. This focus has the advantages of limiting the risk of further marginalization of women as a result of the digital disruption, addressing the global IT skills gap, filling tech jobs that otherwise go unfilled, and of supporting a woman’s pathway to economic agency in the workforce and as an entrepreneur whose work is digitally-enabled and/or tech-driven.

As such, the greatest single driver of economic recovery exiting the COVID pandemic, and that which will most contribute to sustainable development going forward, will be action supporting digital equity for women’s economic agency at the intersection of promoting women’s economic empowerment (WEE)—with women as entrepreneurs,  equal actors in the workforce, and leaders across the board—and closing the gender digital divide (GDD).

Questions: The event will investigate the following questions: 

  • What is the economic impact of the gender digital divide and the opportunity presented by closing it?
  • What is the state-of-play regarding development action that focuses on tackling the gender digital divide and promoting women’s economic empowerment? 
  • What indicators and best practices may be employed to support digital equity for women’s economic agency as a pathway to economic recovery and sustainable development?

Topics: The event will address the topics of women’s economic empowerment, the gender digital divide, gender equality, woman’s rights, inclusive digital transformation, digital financial inclusion, access to finance, online safety, digital equity, digital skills, STEM skills, women-led entrepreneurship, economic recovery, building forward better from COVID, diversity, equity, inclusion, women in peacekeeping and conflict avoidance, women migrants and refugees, women in leadership, women in innovation, female founders, the SDGs, sustainable development goals, and sustainable development.

DLI Update – Fall 2021

The DLI Board are actively involved in outreach activities with partners and stakeholders around the world that promote ESTEAM* leadership by girls and women. Find out more below about our outreach activities in Fall 2021, and for upcoming events by DLI and our partners please visit here, and have a look at our calendar.

*Entrepreneurship and Art powered by Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

14 September – UNIDO Women and Modern Technologies Event (Online): Cheryl Miller Van Dÿck, DLI Founding Director, will contribute to a webinar organized by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), entitled Women and modern technologies in restoring sustainability and building resilience in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis, taking place online on 14 September 2021. Outcomes of the webinar will be shared at the Multi-stakeholder global dialogue on emerging opportunities for women in the digital age, at the third Eurasian Women’s Forum (EAWF), on 15 October 2021 in St. Petersburg.


14-15 September – ICT Spring (Luxembourg & Online): On 14 September 2021, Cheryl Miller Van Dÿck, DLI Founding Director, will provide a keynote presentation on the subject of A Digital Spring for Women Entrepreneurs, as part of the annual ICT Spring event, taking place 14-15 September in Luxembourg and online. Complementary passes for this event may be found here.


29 September – W Closing Event (Finland & Online): DLI Founding Director, Cheryl Miller Van Dÿck, will give a keynote presentation at the closing event of the W-Power project, empowering women entrepreneurs in sparsely populated communities, taking place online on 29 September 2021 .


7 October – WEgate Summit (Brussels & Online): On 7 October, Cheryl Miller Van Dÿck, DLI Founding Director, will contribute to a high-level breakfast briefing at the annual WEgate Summit, on the subject of WE are the Next Generation, taking place in Brussels and online.


19-22 October – Global Marketing Summit (Online): 19-22 October 2021, Cheryl Miller Van Dÿck, DLI Founding Director, will give a keynote presentation at the Global Marketing Summit 2021, taking place online for an audience of over 5000 participants, on the subject of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: Building Forward Better.


27 October – Fondation Lance d’Afrique Burundi (Online): Cheryl Miller Van Dÿck, DLI Founding Director, will join Fondation-LAB Summit on Social Enterprise for Economic Empowerment: An African Woman’s Perspective, where she will provide a keynote presentation on the topic of Building Forward Better: Women, Technology & Entrepreneurship.


30-31 October – G20 Summit (Rome & Online): On 30-31 October 2021, Cheryl Miller Van Dÿck, DLI Founding Director, will join the 2021 G20 Summit in Rome as Head of the EU W20 Delegation and Co-chair of the Digital Working Group for Women20 Italia 2021, the women’s stakeholder engagement group to the 2021 G20 meetings in Italy.


Be sure to visit our Calendar and Outreach Activities page to keep up with DLI events and activities! You can also and sign up for the DLI Newsletter and follow us on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram!

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DLI Update – Summer 2021

The DLI Board are actively involved in outreach activities with partners and stakeholders around the world that promote ESTEAM* leadership by girls and women. Find out more below about our outreach activities in Summer 2021, including participation at the G20 Italy 2021 Women20 Summit in Rome where the G20 Italy 2021 Women20 Communiqué was delivered with contributions by all delegations including the EU led by Cheryl Miller Van Dÿck. For upcoming activities by DLI and its partners please visit here, and have a look at our calendar for events organised by DLI.

*Entrepreneurship and Art powered by Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics


4 June – “AI and Business” BSBI Café Scientifique (Online): On 4 June, Cheryl Miller Van Dÿck, DLI Founding Director, joined an online panel on the topic of “AI and Business,” as part of the Café Scientifique series hosted by Berlin School of Business and Innovation.


17 June – EU Parliament Workshop “Digital Gender Gap(Online): On 17 June, Cheryl Miller Van Dÿck, DLI Founding Director, spoke at an online workshop on The Digital Gender Gap, addressing the subject of “Access to Funding for Women Entrepreneurs in the Digital Ecosystem,” for Members of European Parliament Committee on Industry, Research & Energy (ITRE) Committee.


23 June – “Impact of the W20 in the Lives of European Women” Panel (Online): Cheryl Miller Van Dÿck, DLI Founding Director, joined a panel discussion, with opening remarks by Vice Presidents of the EU Parliament and European Commission, on the “Impact of the W20 in the Lives of European Women,” hosted by the G20 Women20.


13-15 July – G20 Women20 Italy Summit (Rome & Online): On 13-15 July, 2021 G20 Italy Women20, the women’s stakeholder engagement group to the G20 meetings in Italy, hosted the 2021 Women20 Summit in Rome, Italy. Cheryl Miller Van Dÿck, DLI Founding Director, participated at the Summit as Head of the EU W20 Delegation and Co-chair of the W20 Italy Digital Working Group.


Be sure to visit our Calendar and Outreach Activities page to keep up with DLI events and activities! You can also and sign up for the DLI Newsletter and follow us on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram!

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