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.

“COGE” Gender Equality Contest for Young People Launched

On 21 March 2022, the R&I PEERS project announced the “COGE: Contest on Gender Equality” competition, inviting young people between the ages of 18 and 25 who are studying in Belgium, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Israel, Slovenia, Spain or Tunisia, to submit a video of up to three minutes long describing their experiences, knowledge, perception and proposals for Gender Equality.

Information about the competition—including application form, rules for participation, and contact—is available online at the following link: https://ec.europa.eu/eusurvey/runner/COGE

Deadline for submitting completed videos: Midnight 31 May 2022 Central European Time

The R&I PEERS project partners include the Digital Leadership Institute of Belgium, the Greek General Secretariat for Demographic and Family Policy and Gender Equality, the Confindustria association, and seven Universities and Research Institutions from Europe and the Mediterranean. The project is coordinated by the University of Salerno in Italy.

The project “Pilot Experiences for Improving Gender Equality in Research Organizations – R&I PEERS” has been funded under the HORIZON 2020 program (GA 788171) and aims to create and evaluate pilot experiences from a gender perspective which do not limit the participation and career of women in Research and Innovation.

World’s First #WomenVsCOVID19 Hackathon

On 24-26 April, as part of the #EUvsVirus event attracting 20,000 participants from around the world, the Digital Leadership Institute and its partners hosted the first-ever global #WomenVsCovid19 hackathon tackling the unique challenges facing girls and women from COVID19 .  With 160 participants, ranging from 16 to 70 years of age and representing over 25 countries, the three-day “Move It Forward” event brought together policy-makers and private sector actors to support teen and adult women in driving solutions to the address the coronavirus pandemic.

Move It Forward for #WomenVsCOVID19 participants enjoyed interventions from European Commissioner Mariya Gabriel, Ms. Julie Linn Teigland, Global Director for Women Fast Forward at EY, Ms. Anna Falth of UN Women, Ms. Pirkko Mahlamäki from European Women’s Lobby, and Ms. Bernadette Gemmell of the European Institute for Gender Equality.  Miss Alai Miranda Blanco Lascurain, recipient of DLI’s 2019  European Digital Girl of the Year award, also inspired participants by sharing about her own 3D-printed invention supporting frontline healthworkers in Spain, vast majority of whom are women.

During the event, Move It Forward project teams also benefited from expert mentorship and digital skills trainings–including website development, smartphone app coding, and data visualization–in order to develop initiatives that tackle economic and social challenges impacting the world’s girls and women as a result of COVID19.

Top #WomenVsCOVID19 projects, recognised by a world class jury including Ms. Charlene Lambert from Women’s Entrepreneurship Platform, Ms. Wendy Diamond of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Organization, Ms. Jaya Jiwatram, of UN Women, Ms. Anne Ravanona of Global InvestHer, and Ms. Cheryl Miller Van Dÿck from DLI, were the following:

  1. All-Around Award:  WAVEA smartphone application tackling psychological abuse and delivering pan-European emergency-response for victims of violence against women and girls
  2. Innovation AwardExit Tales – An animated documentary of COVID19 stories from the perspective of migrant children
  3. Impact AwardArt Time with GrandmaAn inter-generational art-making project promoting women artists and connecting kids and elderly women in order to combat isolation during COVID19

DLI and partner Global InvestHer will support winning #WomenVsCOVID19 projects with incubation, mentorship, and training, and projects are also eligible for further support from the wider #EUvsVirus event that announced prizes for the top projects among over 1500 delivered.

Event partners also committed to supporting recognized projects and #MoveItForward events in other geographies. The first #MoveItForward for #WomenVsCOVID19 event was live-streamed on the DLI Facebook page, and links to the separate sessions may be found below.

Thank you to all of our amazing partners who made this event such a success!  Please do not hesitate to reach out to us to support future editions of #MoveItForward!

Move It Forward for Women vs. COVID19

Outcomes from this event are included in our 30 April 2020 post “World’s First Women versus COVID19-Hackathon

The Digital Leadership Institute and its partners are proud to announce a Move It Forward – female digital starters event for Women versus COVID19taking place online on 24-26 April 2020 (all times CET, GMT+2), in support of the #EUvsVirus hackathon organised by the European Commission, and in celebration of Girls in ICT Day 2020!

Move It Forward female digital starters events are an initiative of inQube, DLI’s female digital accelerator, and are supported by top technology companies, non-profit organisations, and youth and women’s networks and communities. Their objective is to give teen and adult women* the skills to become digital entrepreneurs and leaders, and to support them in driving positive change in their communities and society-at-large.

Participants:  If you are a teen or adult woman* interested in building your tech and entrepreneurship skills while addressing challenges for Women during the COVID19 crisis, please sign up for this FREE event!

Coaches/Volunteers/Partners:  Please contact us if you would like to support this event. Opportunities exist for Move It Forward volunteers, interpreters, coaches, jury members, content and media partners, prize contributors and sponsors.

*Anyone who identifies as a woman

Draft Programme:
Day One – 24 April (Friday – All Times CET, GMT+2):

Day Two – 25 April (Saturday – All Times CET, GMT+2):

Day Three – 26 April (Sunday – All Times CET, GMT+2):

  • 09:00-09:30 – Check-in & Virtual Coffee
  • 09:30-12:00 – Workshop Webinar 3: Build a Smartphone App with MIT App Inventor for Android
  • 12:00-15:00 – Project Work with Coaches
  • 15:00-16:00 – Project Submissions to #EUvsVirus (optional)
  • 16:00-19:00 – Closing Session (open to the Public): Project Pitches for “Women versus COVID19”

  • 19:00-20:00 – Virtual Reception with #EUvsVirus
**Awards:  Prizes will be handed out for the top three projects presented at the Closing Session:
  • Overall Best: 6-month Virtual inQubation at DLI; 10 Hours one-to-one inQube Startup Coaching; and free access to Crowdfunding 100 online course ($197 value) care of event partner Global InvestHer
  • Most Impact: 4-month Virtual inQubation at DLI; 8 Hours one-to-one inQube Startup Coaching
  • Most Innovative: 4-month Virtual inQubation at DLI; 8 Hours one-to-one inQube Startup Coaching