>> DOREEN BOGDAN-MARTIN: Good morning, everyone, and welcome to this ITU UN Women Open Forum. We're thrilled to have so many of you with us here on the last day of the IGF. It's been an interesting week. It's my first IGF, and it's been great to see how so many of the sessions have talked about digital inclusion in general, but also very specifically about the digital gender gap and how we really need to step up our efforts in a collaborative way to really bridge that digital gender gap.
We had a session that was called "The Internet of Women." We had a Best Practice Forum, and we'll hear later from Jac about what happened at that Best Practice forum. We're excited to tell you about a new initiative that the ITU and UN Women have embarked upon. We announced it in September on the eve of the general assembly, and the initiative is called EQUALS, and it's a global partnership about bridging the digital gender gap.
Of course, the initiative really keeps in mind the 2030 agenda and all 17 of the SDGs, and we're really zooming in on
SDG 5 and how we can use technology to really empower women and girls all over the world.
The track in EQUALS is structured in three different tracks. We've taken the digital gender gap and broken it down into access skills and leadership, so in a few moments, we're going to hear from our great group of panelists about how we are collaborating in the different issues that they bring to this new partnership, so I'm going to pause for a moment and turn over to Lara, who joins us this morning from UN Women. Lara covers the Caribbean and all of Latin America, and we're really thrilled to have Lara with us.
>> LARA BLANCO: Thank you very much, Doreen, and good morning to everyone in the room.
I'm representing the UN Women, as door even said. I actually look after the regional program of UN Women for Latin America and the Caribbean, and we are based in Panama.
I'm sorry, I only arrived today, so now I'm realizing everything that I have missed throughout the week. I'll make sure myself that in the next -- next year I actually join all the discussions because I've been hearing that it has been very interesting, and it clearly looks like a very important place to be.
So it is my great honor to be here representing UN Women and together with other partners to discuss how to better collaborate on closing the digital gender divide.
As the lead UN organization on achieving gender equality, UN Women actually works with a variety of partners to promote women empowerment in ICTs.
An area that, as Doreen was saying, is tremendously powerful in transforming women's lives and achieving gender equality in support of the 2030 agenda. I think everybody knows here that the issue of ICTs has been included as one of the means of implementation. It is actually one of the vehicles that we would use to be able to achieve gender equality.
We have -- in the past, we have accumulated experiences from project implementation that can be further scaled and scaled up, and now as one of the founding partners of EQUALS with ITU, we are proud to build this global inclusive platform for all of our partners to come together and act together.
Reducing the digital divide and empowering women and girls in science and technology is of key importance to UN Women, not only because women are underrepresented here and actually -- I'm sure that you all know the numbers, but for someone who is not from this field, looking at the numbers is actually quite shocking, and, you know, I'm going to take the risk of repeating some of them because we are always -- we are always saying women are -- I'm going to use examples from the region, actually. We are 54% of the labor force in Latin America and the Caribbean. We have a gender gap of 19%, but when you actually go into the ICT sector, the numbers are so much lower. You're talking about, you know, 9% of women that have developed apps in the case of Europe. You talk about things like 7% of funding goes to businesses where women are the owners. You talk about, you know, that 10% of electronic products are being produced by women, 90% by men, so, you know, we are used to, you know, small figures, but these are actually shocking, and I think that that is exactly the reason why we are here.
And having those numbers in mind is quite important because it tells us about the magnitude of the -- of the kind of work that we also need to do.
So reducing digital divide and empowering women and girls in science and technology, I was saying, is of key importance to UN Women, not only because women are underrepresented, but also because this is a fast-growing industry where there are enormous opportunities for women to thrive.
ICT is a cross-cutting thing in all UN Women's strategic work, including empowerment, the elimination of gender violence, as well as peace, planning, and budgeting. For most of our global flagship programs, we have also embedded ICT through promoting innovation.
Since UN Women's establishment, we are the newest agency within the UN system, but since the beginning, we have connected with a large network of partners from both public and private sectors, working in the areas of closing the gender digital divide.
We have also accumulated a wealth of experience on the issues and barriers that women face in this space, and just to share some issues that we can use in the discussion that we are going to have here, I would want to mention first that there is also a disconnect between the technology and the gender equality communities. Gender perspectives are also not mainstreamed or fully reflected in the technology development spectrum. And this results in a limited understanding of both communities on where and how to bridge that digital gap.
For example, we know that IT innovation and investment are among the hottest topics in both developed and developing countries, but even in developed countries, women groups are far underrepresented in both tech and venture capital streams. The EQUALS Coalition might be in a good position to take the lead, to rethink the situation and redefine the partnership channels and formats to address this.
Secondly, the underinvestment in closing the gender digital divide is a barrier for implementing big collaboration projects. Breakthroughs for digital gender equality requires grant funding for early stage and social and commercial viable investment for later stage projects; however, such resources are also very limited, and this financing gap requires innovative solutions.
It would be also extremely valuable to hear the advice from our panel members in this regard on how the EQUALS can promote gender financing towards addressing the gender digital divide.
Thirdly, intermediating trust among partners is important. A significant amount of collaboration in EQUALS will be promoting public and private partnerships. This is also central for UN women to work with the private sector in order to accelerate the traditional development work. A common language between different partners will also help to promote such partnerships.
And fourth, although we're building a global platform for collaboration, the action and impact must be achieved at local levels. UN Women has recently launched some ICT initiatives for women's economic environment. One is school targeting second chance education for marginalized adolescent girls as well as providing 21st Century skills for women and girls to be able to take advantage of the technology revolution.
Although this is a global initiative, our potential local partners are the key to the project's success, as the accessibility is one of the biggest challenges for the school. We are looking also forward to working with our EQUALS' partners in this area of work.
As I said I work with the Latin America and Caribbean regional office. There are great initiatives in that topic, but I have to say they are limited and fragmented, and we did have a need to expand and upscale such efforts so they can lead to the kind of transformations that we want to ensure.
And just before coming here, I was actually -- one of the things that we have been discussing, and I'm going to kind of turn around the topic, but one of the things that we have been discussing is how to protect human right defenders and forced migrants in the northern triangle, which probably you know that is one of the regions where women face -- where we have rates -- the highest rates of femicide of women. We're talking about rates that only for women are 13% or 14%, so one of the things that we have been discussing with our partners is how we can use technology that we have been producing to actually make these women safe and even be able to communicate in the migration path and the human right defenders also to do their work in safer circumstances.
And technologies is important. I mean, it's access. It's also a number of platforms that we have been producing, so we have been talking about how to develop a technology, a technological package to put in place and to benefit all of these women.
So far we have already started doing that, but as I said, the initiatives are very fragmented and small, so hopefully also, with these kind of partnerships, we can work in that direction. We do have talented colleagues working in the regional and country offices talking to big IT companies and remote communities day-to-day, and for these women to connect to better tech world is strongly sensed by us. First we send our heartfelt invitation to everyone here for constructive discussions.
And last but not least, I want to say that we're in the process of developing Buy From Women, a platform for women entrepreneurs and small-scale farmers in one of our flagship ICT innovation projects. It is currently being piloted in Rwanda and will soon reach to other countries for varying sectors.
And here, again, we look forward to collaboration. I would like to thank our colleagues in ITU who organized this workshop and further bolden efforts to promote EQUALS for women and girls in need. I would also like to thank all the panel members and guests who all support this endeavor with consistence, wisdom, and resources.
As one of the founding partners, UN Women is committed to working together and be counted for in any facilitation that we could provide for the closing of the digital gender equality. Thank you very much. Thank you, Doreen.
>> DOREEN BOGDAN-MARTIN: Thank you very much, Lara. I'm going to pick up on your point about fragmented and small because, actually, that was sort of the motivation for moving forward with EQUALS. In our view, there was a lot happening on the different areas from access to skills to leadership, but our feeling was it wasn't scaling, and if we were really going to be able to make a difference in bridging the digital gender gap, we needed to bring parties together and try to figure out in the spirit of collaboration what could we do collectively as a partnership to really move the needle, so EQUALS is really all about creating an unstoppable movement where women and girls are equal participants in the digital technology revolution, and as I said before, we have -- we have decided to take the work and divide it in three main areas, and we'll hear from the panelists what they're doing, so we're looking at access as the first -- we call them coalitions. It's led by GSMA, and in that area, we're focusing on getting more women online, getting more women with mobile phones, and on the skills side, we're really looking at trying to encourage more girls to take an interest in computer science, getting more girls interested in STEM in general. We're looked at coding camps and coding opportunities to bring more women and girls into the technology field.
Under the leadership track, we're looking at a number of things from women as creators, women as heads of SMEs, women in the corporate world on the tech side, and women in the public policy space in the ICT field, and so with that, I'm going to turn it over to Claire. Claire many of you may know, so Claire heads up the Connected Women's Program at GSMA. She has been working with the ICT for many years, and she also is spearheading our Broadband Commission working group on gender, so Claire, if I can pass the floor to you, and if you want to maybe highlight some of the challenges and opportunities that you see regarding women and the access issue. Claire.
>> CLAIRE SIBTHORPE: Thank you so much. Yes. We're planning through the access group a discussion having to build on a lot of the work that's already been done, so the UN ITU -- UN Women and ITU issued an action plan last year, and the Broadband Commission Gender Working Group has been looking forward to taking that forward in more detailed ways, and this access commission will look at the next step on that phase, and I think the action plan on the work of the Broadband Commission has identified what are sort of the key issues that we need to focus on in access so while recognizing that this gender gap is driven by the structural inequalities around men and women, around income and education and social norms that there's also some very specific barriers and issues we can look at in the IT space, and those have been articulated as, first, there's a need for better data and evidence base to inform policies, products, and services, so we have a lack of data, and we need that data if we're going to drive forward and address this issue. There's a need to have strategies policies and plans and have specific targets and measurements and measure ourselves against the delivery of them.
There's a need to address all the different barriers which -- around accessibility to the Internet, affordability, safety, the digital skills, and ensuring there's relevant content application that's relevant for women, and everybody needs to work together and share good practice and lessons learned, so that's sort of -- that's the sort of framework that's been articulated as the need to focus.
And in terms of the actual coalition, I think what it's -- the discussions to date have been around making sure that it's very action-oriented, that we're -- that it's not just going beyond talking and documents but looking at how collectively we can work and set targets and have clear things that we're measuring ourselves against, how it goes beyond, as you said, the small-scale pilots, how we can make a big difference, and how we can work together because it's a complex issue, and there's no silver bullet. It's not about addressing any one of the barriers I mentioned. We need to work together and address all of them holistically, so I think the challenge of this group will be, you know, how do we do that together, address the sort of range of challenges that need to be addressed and really take action and take action that's not just about sort of more small-scale pilots but really move the needle. I think it's a big challenge ahead of us, but hopefully with this group and with EQUALS and the convening by UN Women on this issue, it will help to move the needle.
>> DOREEN BOGDAN-MARTIN: Thanks very much, Claire. Also linked to the access issue, I'm going to turn it over to Nanjira, and she is representing the World Wide Web Foundation as well as the Alliance for the Affordable Internet, and you were the winners of our 2016 GEM-TECH Awards.
>> NANJIRA SAMBULI: Yay.
>> DOREEN BOGDAN-MARTIN: So we're really happy to have you with us. If you would like to tell us about your work and how you're specifically addressing the access divide.
>> NANJIRA SAMBULI: Sure. Thank you for having me here. So at the Web Foundation, we've been trying to figure -- not just trying to figure out, we're working at global and local levels to merge these two worlds because oftentimes things that happen on one side don't translate to the other, and so I'll best share by example. With two programs that we have -- we have the Alliance for Affordable Internet, as you mentioned -- it's a coalition model that brings in government, Civil Society, private sector both at a global level but at a country partnerships level where together they work to figure out what are the barriers to affordable access and how to tackle them, what are the priorities in each country. They identified a multistakeholder way, if you will, and worked together towards that, towards policy form especially. With our Women's Rights Online program, which is the one I lead, we've taken research. We've had the digital gender divide, put a number to it, put some context to it, put some real human stories to it in the work we've done, but not just research, many of the partners in this room today, UN Women and CEDR put it together and said let's put a score card to it, this is how governments are faring, and let's -- the most important stakeholder being the women we're talking about, working with her to amplify her voice, make sure it's heard, what her dreams and aspirations are to use the web, and transfer that to when we talk about policy, which can sometimes be a very unhuman space when we talk about numbers and, you know, multistakeholderism and all these words, and so trying to find a way for all of that to work together.
So we're starting to see success, and we're very excited working with GSM, working with so many actors within this room around the idea of access. We're working not just to tell governments they need to collect better data but trying to figure out how they can do that. For those writing the ICT policies, it's trying to figure out how do you make sure the policy from the get go is baked in if because it's telling us having ICT policy is not enough.
We're excited about bringing that practical aspect to the partnership, and I'm very excited about when we come back next year to give even more stories, and again, I think it's testament that the work we're to go is counting for something and we're very happy to win the award on behalf of the women we work with. So I'm happy to talk about it a lot more, and I look forward to keeping it as real as possible as we go ahead.
>> DOREEN BOGDAN-MARTIN: That's great. Thank you. Thanks so much. So now we're going to shift a little bit to the issue of skills, and then we'll move on to leadership and then we'll open up to some questions. Paul, if I may, I'm going to start with you. Paul Mitchell is the corporate vice president and general manager of regulatory policy and standards at Microsoft. He's also a member of the Broadband Commission. Paul, we know that women were sort of there at the beginning of, you know, programming from Grace Hopper and others, but yet we see that girls are less interested in taking up studies in STEM. Microsoft, I know, cares about this issue a lot. Can you tell us what you're doing to try to change perceptions and make a difference?
>> PAUL MITCHELL: (Off microphone)
There we go. Now, it is. Okay. So yes, in fact, the world's first actual computer programmers were women, programming the ENIAC for target citing in the Second World War, which people don't remember, and then for whatever reason, you know, women got pushed behind, and for Microsoft, we really have an imperative in a couple of ways. One is changing our own operations, so how do we actually reflect this idea in our mission that, you know, to enable every person and organization on the planet to achieve more, that includes the half of the planet that is women, so operationally, what do we do, how do we -- we create -- how do we create jobs, how do we actually find the women to fill those jobs, and how do we make sure that we, within the employment space, actually cater to the unique needs that women have as distinct from the ones that men have. So that's on the one hand.
And we have a variety of programs aimed at trying to reinforce the value of women and their unique insights, including Women at Microsoft, which is an internal network around the world. In fact, over 55,000 women. Which also is used to provide -- to do outreach into the community in their various countries.
We then leverage that type of activity with partnerships with governments, for example, here in Mexico, which is a multistakeholder partner which is trying to get women and girls literate with programming skills. We have a lot of these under the banner of YouthSpark, which includes Digigirlz, which is a program that puts together coding camps and training camps around the world, both online and offline, and then in-person opportunities. We've -- in Italy, we ran a program called Pink Cloud, which was a focus, again, of girls learning programming skills.
The challenge we face really is that to start with, we need people with baseline in math skills, and I think, you know, Doreen mentioned this sort of focus on STEM, and STEM in schools, STEM education in schools is falling behind.
Just in the United States -- I mentioned this in a different session, we have something like 37,000 high schools, we have only 4,500 of them that offer an advanced placement course in computer programming, and we have something like 600,000 open computer jobs in the United States, and we graduated collectively something like 40,000 computer science graduates of all genders, right? So there's a huge inequity and a big gap, so we have, you know, employment opportunities, and we're somehow not reaching them.
So these programs, which were really designed to try to reach girls as young as we possibly can, need to start in the elementary schools. They need to be sort of, you know, colocated with the rest of the educational curriculum, and that means we have to have a focus on teachers, so around the world we also have a sort of teacher training program, which is on basic computer literacy, and we, you know, try to get it more advanced. Specifically in the United States we then have a program called TEALS, which it stands for Technology, Education, and Literacy in Schools, and this was a program that was started in 2009 by a single Microsoft employee who recognized that his kids' school didn't have a computer science -- they had no literacy in computing, and so he basically volunteered to go teach the computer class. That's how this works. So TEALS takes volunteer computer literate people and pairs them with schools. Now it's a big program across the United States, and it's something that can -- the concept can easily scale to other parts of the world, but it's basically taking people who know and pairing them with where there's a need and then trying to get people excited.
One of the things that we did specifically as an educational focus, and I don't think people recognize it, we bought Minecraft, which is a fun game, but it's really a programming tool, so it's really about teaching people logic skills and how to accomplish something and sort of spark the interest and imagination that they can do something too.
And then we do our best to try to highlight successful, skilled women in the tech community, so, you know, one of our tech leaders is Krysta Svore, who's doing nano computing, which is on the farthest end of the super cool spectrum, and, you know, she is an example of what someone can be, so we're trying to do all of these things. The things that we can't do, I mean, Claire mentioned and Doreen, there's all the statistics about, you know, gaps, and then there's the social-culture issues that get in the way. We can't fix those. But the one thing we can do is create curriculum, we can deliver the message about the need for education to -- and we advocate loudly at -- you know, with governments that this is a really important critical thing for the success of the economy of any given country to be able to actually realize the benefits of this second half of the population of the planet in getting those sort of diverse perspectives in place.
If you're interested, all the information of all these programs is available online under Microsoft.com, YouthSpark, or you type Microsoft and Women in any search engine, you will get a long list of things that we do, and many of them are things that are intended to involve others in the community, so there's -- you know, the idea is to be generative and expand the outreach. So far the programs are working successfully. They could always do better, and we would welcome suggestions and partnerships to reach even more.
>> DOREEN BOGDAN-MARTIN: Thank you very much, Paul, and indeed, Microsoft is doing some great work in this space, and we have mapped on our digital gender gap map some of those initiatives.
I had the pleasure of participating in your Pink Cloud event in Italy, which was fabulous. It's very much linked to something that the ITU has been running since 2010, which is Girls in ICT Day, and it's the fourth Thursday of the fourth month every year where we invite governments, private sector, Civil Society to bring girls into the workplace, link to technology, and really present to them the opportunities that studies and career -- careers in the tech sector can provide, and to date, we've had some 160 countries celebrate and over 250,000 girls participate in those events, and we've been working very closely with Microsoft and many others on those celebrations.
So now I'm going to turn to the -- to the leadership gap, and I'm going to turn over to Yolanda, who's going to give us a little bit of the Mexican experience. On the leadership side, we heard from Lara kind of the -- in terms of app developers, Europe 9%, I think, globally it's 6%. When we look -- can we go back to that slide for one second?
If we look at -- no, the other one. Sorry. The one on no leadership.
>> (Off microphone)
>> DOREEN BOGDAN-MARTIN: There you go. Yep. In terms of women in the technology workforce globally, again, this is less than 20%. It's good that a lot of the Silicon Valley companies have actually started to report. Previous speakers have mentioned the importance of data, and that's very much what we're looking at, that we need to have the baseline data so then we can begin to measure, and we look at the ICT ministries and we see that the numbers are particularly low, only 12% of ministers are women, and when we look at the regulatory agencies, that number is actually lower, at 7%. So that sort of leadership on the public-sector side. So this data is really important because it does help us get a baseline. I know Mexico is very committed to bringing more women into the technology sector, both on the private and the public side. We heard the other day from Alejandra about this great initiative, so if you could tell us briefly some of the things you're doing in Mexico to get more women and girls involved in the technology sector.
>> YOLANDA MARTINEZ: Thank you. Good morning, all. My name is Yolanda Martinez. I'm the head of digital government under the Ministry of Public Administration. I am part of the team at the National Digital Strategy Coordination Office, which is led by a women, Ms. Alejandra Lagunes. There is another woman, Cristina Cardenas. She leads the institution responsible for ICT policy under the Ministry of Public Education, and also another colleague, which is our chief data officer, Ms. Ania Calderon, is responsible for (Speaking non-English language), so as you can see, the National Digital Strategy executive team is mainly women, so we lead by example, and we're truly committed to that.
I would like to share with you the story of Marcella. (Speaking non-English language)
Thank you. Marcella's a student from Guadalajara, which is here, my hometown as well. It was applied to one of the most recognized higher education institutions in Mexico online in a very easy and transparent way.
In service seems very easy and probably is available in most developed countries many, many years ago, but in developing countries and less developed countries, this is still not possible, and it's a barrier for access of higher education. (Speaking non-English Language)
Lupita, which is a single mother, she was able to apply to a life insurance program, which is sponsored by the Ministry of Social Services, 100% online. I give you to -- and if we go to the (Speaking non-English language). No, it's supposed to be -- okay. If we go to the -- I have a few examples that I wanted to show because that's one initiative that is -- that we're doing as -- with the multistakeholder community, and it's basically a mentorship program for girls to teach them leadership skills but also how cool it is to be in the IT world and to lead the efforts, for example, my case, digital policy.
So just to set up the scene and give you some numbers, which I agree data is important to make us -- to make us feel where we are, 2/3 of the poorest population in the world are women. 2/3 of illiterate people around the world are women. Less than 4% of managers from the 500 most important enterprises in the world are females. And all over the world, women earn less than men. An average, according to World Bank is between 60% to 75%.
Against this background, technology and Internet are key enablers to improve our women, and ICT creates opportunities to create solution, increase their income, access to knowledge, and mechanisms to accomplish public and private rights. As member of the Internet Multistakeholder Group, it's our duty to have public policy which allows to close the divides.
The Mexican government launched the National Digital Strategy, which is a plan of action the government is implementing to encourage the adoption and development of ICTs and Internet in Mexico.
In order to enter the no one is left behind, the inclusion skills is one of the five key enablers proposed in our policy. These enabler promotes the creation of gender equity in all policies in the development of digital skills.
One of the main key actions is our national one-stop shop. They have access to government information and public services and provides a platform for participation. Government provides access to more than 4,000 services online. They're to accomplish the sustainable development goals are free and can be done 100% online, and that's very important, because we're looking to have access to all services related to SDGs and especially to that targeting to empowering women and girls to be able for them to access social services, health care services, education services, and leadership initiatives, like CodingOX to make sure they have enough skills to lead their own development.
Currently women can access to more than 21 public services regarding social programs, and today, I think men and women do not only have the opportunity, but I think we are co-responsibility to lay the foundations of a more respectful participatory and inclusive society. I would like to congratulate EQUALS initiative and I actually would like to join since I have the privilege to lead the network for EU government under Latin American and the Caribbean Region, and I think it's a great opportunity if we create more partnerships with the government officials in the Latin American and Caribbean region to create partnerships and support EQUALS' initiatives for the greater good of women. Thank you.
>> DOREEN BOGDAN-MARTIN: So we welcome you, please.
That's great. It's fascinating to see how you're using digital government, eGovernment, as a way to empower women and girls, so thank you for sharing that with us.
Now I'm going to turn over to Cecile. She's the eCommerce and law reform manager at UNCTAD, and the Secretary General was with us a few weeks ago in Bangkok where he announced he was joining EQUALS, and we're happy to have you onboard. If you want to tell us about some of the things you're doing from the UNCTAD initiative. I know you work a lot with women entrepreneurs and SMEs, and if you share with us maybe specifically on the eTrade side what you're doing. Thank you.
>> CECILE BARAYRE: Thank you, Doreen, and good morning to all. We have heard a lot of challenges this morning, but we also have to recognize also in progress to ICTs as well, they allow women to be better integrated to reach out to new clients in the world, so instead of talking about the challenges -- I think we have already mentioned a few of them -- I would focus on the opportunities. We know that improved connectivity of Internet and access to global online platform and payment method, together with the connected delivery services and also the development of policy and legal frameworks that support SME and reach out to consumers have improved situations. I am not implying we have solved all the issues, of course, but at least we have made a move, and UNCTAD, as Doreen mentioned, we have carried out a survey, offered 212 women and entrepreneurs in Tanzania as part of a guide that we developed, which is called Empowering Women Entrepreneur through ICT -- initially about 97 of those women used mobile phones, were asked only one out of ten use websites for business and 16 only sold products online, so we can see there's still a challenge here, but what is the most important is that women see eCommerce as an opportunity and can, you know, say it's a power of eCommerce, so I would like to give you two examples myself because I always think examples of what we see on the ground is much better than big figures as well, so I met once with Dena. Dena is a Tanzanian entrepreneur. She's selling flowers, and on one hand she's holding a phone while she's doing her cooking in the kitchen.
She can receive orders and send, you know, orders as well, and she's a first to see that ICT and women entrepreneurship go together, and it makes life easier, she can save money, she can deal with her family and save costs as well.
Last July I was in Narabi for our conference where we launched this initiative I'm going to talk about, and there again, I went to a company called Kazuri. Maybe some are familiar with this company. It means small and beautiful. And it's an enterprise led which produce handmade jewelry, and its funder, Mrs. Susan Wood, started with two Kenyan women, and soon she discovered that a lot of women in the surrounding were unemployed and needed to, you know -- but they were a single mother and they needed to get a job, so now the company is about 400 women, and they're exporting through Internet to over 30 countries, so that's another example of how technology can allow women to get on and reach out to clients and create business and avoid certain barriers.
So what I mean here is that serving global markets or local markets is no longer (Inaudible) for women, and that is very important. There are, of course, various -- access we mentioned, policies to push for women entrepreneurial partnership, and we need to raise the skills of women as well, but it's also, you know, the need to collaborate, so we are already collaborating in certain number of initiatives. As Doreen mentioned, we're part of EQUALS, and UNCTAD has joined -- ITU, sorry, had joined eTrade basically there's a platform to -- and create the development of eCommerce in developing countries. It is multistakeholder initiatives. There's about 18 partners already. I have a brochure if you want to see who they are. It's mostly an international organization, government. We have actually another pillar which is equally important when you do this kind of initiative. You have to involve the private sector, otherwise there's no eCommerce there, so we have about 22 companies ranging from big companies, like Google, eBay, PayPal, FedEx, and there are smaller markets in developing countries. The idea is to build a platform where government and enterprises will see what is available in terms of assistance, in terms of building capacity assistance among the partners, and we will also dedicate a segment for women, so you'll be able to see what programs have eCommerce and have lessons learned, and we know that women and men engage in different ways in eCommerce, like you were saying that earlier. They face barriers as well.
We are thinking in the future to open up a network of women entrepreneurs, we can speak to each other, share their concerns, share opportunities and with that, you know, hoping that they can create certain leadership in eCommerce. So with that, I thank you.
>> DOREEN BOGDAN-MARTIN: Yeah, thank you very much, Cecile. Indeed, ITU is very happy to be part of the eTrade For All, and thank you for sharing those stories. It makes you sort of visualize and feel and get excited about the importance -- excited about the importance of being able to empower women through technology, so thank you for that.
Now I'm going to turn it over to Jac, and we'd like to hear from all of you. Jac, if you can -- Jac was one of our first GEM-TECH winners. She was with us in 2014 at the plenipotentiary conference where APC won for their Take Back Tech Initiative, so we're really happy to have you with us, Jac, and if you want to tell us what you've seen this week in terms of the digital gender divide and the number of sessions that you've been following on this issue.
>> JAC sm KEE: Thanks. So, hello. My name is Jac. I'm with the Association for Progressive Communications. I lead the women's rights program. APC does a lot of organization, we do a range of work in one -- and one of the biggest areas is looking at access. I'm also part of the MAC, so I co-convened the best practice forum on gender access this year, which basically was a year-long process, and it's basically a year-long process that tries to get together different stakeholder groups and learn the best -- yeah -- oh, there's no way to say this. Learn best practices. Yes. Okay. So to try and like glean best practices from existing areas of work in a way that IGF as a process and as a forum is able to do, so they try to bring together stakeholder groups that's already doing work around this and to see what existing work has been done and what we can take out of this.
And it's really great to see gender access as a big topic, and this year's IGF it's been getting a lot of focus.
I've been attending a lot of the access sessions for the past three days. I think I have access coming out of my ears, but I think it's really great and it's great that every session has been very, very full. So when we shared the Best Practice Forum's findings, I think two days back now, we had, like, Doreen and Claire at the session to share some of the work, and it was full, full, like standing room people, like people were sitting on the floor and such, and in a way it demonstrates there is interest and there is commitment, and I think those are all very, very good signs, and I think SDGs provide a really good opportunity to also really consolidate commitment taking this work forward.
So in the best -- I'll just share with you a little bit about the Best Practice Forum's work and some of the key things that I've seen popping up in this conversation.
So in the BPF's work, what we tried to do is we didn't want to basically reinvent the wheel and do things people were already doing, and we acknowledged -- the first thing we did was really to map some of the great work that has been done in this area, especially around research, and there has been a lot of really incredible research, especially around affordability and availability, such as the other research as well, so we looked at all of this and from there tried to pull out, okay, let's focus what are we looking at, and we thought it was probably most useful to look at two things. One is what are the barriers for women's access. That still presents as women's access to technology, and secondly, what are exist being initiatives that are already in existence to meet some of these barriers? And in the barriers we sort of stood them up and looked at different sections, including skills, decision-making, availability, affordability, and so on, and the two things that popped up for us quite early on in terms of real -- both as a very, very important issue that needs to be addressed as well as a kind of gap in existing research is the important role of cultural norms and barriers, and this is an area that is also incredibly difficult to research because it is so context actually specific, but if we're looking at the realities of women and girls, this is something that we actually absolutely must take on, so while there are statistics around existing gaps, these statistics also sit within existing disparities and context, culture, and norms act as significant factors that interplay with them, so how do you think about this, how do we do really sound and useful research around this in a way that is also -- that is both context actually specific as well as things that you can take out and see if we can do some comparisons and learn best lessons from those.
And this reminds me of a session I went to on the DC on community access where there is an initiative that's -- no, sorry, not community access, connecting the unconnected and part of their work is really to try and get as many case studies as possible and to learn through case studies, and maybe that's a methodology that can be useful because then, you know, you're able to get the context but then also try and see what are some common factors from there.
And we mapped about 60 initiatives. What we found was there were a lot of initiatives that looked at skills and capacity building and that was really great, but less so around sort of other different areas that we were looking at.
And the other thing that -- the second thing that popped up in terms of the finding that we didn't expect and we didn't put in as one of the categories of barriers was the role of online gender-based violence and abuse as a barrier to women's access, so both in terms of getting to the point of access, if these are public access points, what are the safety risks that need to be taken into account, as well as what happens after you get access, and this contributes to kind of a sense of confidence, a sense of ownership, a sense of feeling that you can really also develop and build your own capacity and experiment when you're on this space, so this is again another significant thing that maybe we need to pay attention to and think about a lot more.
And in the IGF itself, there's been a lot of conversations around access, lots of different inputs that have been given around a variety of diversity, actually, of approaches and thinking through how do we address this access gap, whether this in terms of mobiles, whether this is in terms of thinking about access as a public good, thinking about broadband access, thinking about spectrum allocation, as well as my own personal pet interest, which is last-mile access, so how do we think about bringing access to people actually where they are, especially in underserved groups and underserved spaces, how do we think about this? And this year has been really a fantastic year in terms of bringing together a lot of initiatives and a lot of different groups who are doing work around this area, who's thinking also through community access networks from a variety of different kinds of technology platforms, so from wireless to radio and so on, but I think the challenge there is how do we bring in -- there's two challenges. One is how do we bring in a gender lens to this conversation around community access networks. I think that's very much missing and I think that's a very beneficial and useful work to think about because community access is also about -- it's also about thinking -- it's also about community ownership over access infrastructure, it's also about community ownership and investment and sustainability of maintaining those things, and also about development of relevant content, and I think content is another big issue.
So I think that's kind of a worthy question to think through, how do we bring in a gender analysis into this piece of the conversation as it is gaining importance in this field.
And the second thing that -- what did I say was it? The first thing? The second thing. Okay. So the second thing that's worth thinking about also is what you were raising about scalability, so how do you scale up something that is very, very specific, contextually specific and responsive, and at the same time, you can learn lessons from there and scale it up so it becomes more beneficial to different people. These are kind of two pieces of challenges that I think would be really great if we can -- you know, as a group that is really interested in this issue sort of pay a little bit of attention to.
And -- yes. So in the mapping of initiatives, we mapped about 60. We started speaking with EQUALS to see how we can share some of this mapping initiative. I think it's great that we're looking at collaboration. I'm very excited about this, and I'm excited to see what we can do together more.
>> DOREEN BOGDAN-MARTIN: Excellent. Thank you so much for sharing that, and also for bringing up the role of culture and sort of societal norms, which is something that I've heard in several sessions this week and also for your -- for your two challenges, and I think that's where we can all work together. I mean, I've learned so much this week, and there are so many things happening, and I think what has been most rewarding for me is to further connect the dots. The 20 cases that -- what's it called? -- one -- the U Penn initiative, One World Connected, right, and you're 60 and we have Map 240, and by just bringing our work all together, I think our impact can be huge, so I'm really optimistic. Thank you for sharing that. I think we have time for maybe a couple of quick comments or questions.
Oops. That's good.
Please go ahead. Why don't you say your name.
>> EVELYN NAMARA: My name is Evelyn Namara from Uganda, and I had two comments, one was on the skills. You spoke about the need to start enhancing skills at a very early level. One of the big challenges is that some of the governments, especially in underdeveloped countries, it's very hard to change curriculums, it's very hard to change, you know, the way of teaching, and so you have this sort of education level where children come out and they're not -- they don't have the relative skills to make them competent, so how do we change that?
And you find that the only people who are doing initiatives that are actually enhancing the different ways of learning don't have funding to actually, you know, come in and, you know, have these alternative ways of learning.
And then another comment is for you, sorry, I forgot your name. You spoke about the women entrepreneurs and the innovation fund that you're piloting in Rwanda. I'm an entrepreneur, and we use ICT skills to help small farmers in Uganda, so I'd like to know about that, and if there's information online, could you please point me to it? Thank you.
>> DOREEN BOGDAN-MARTIN: I'm going to take two more questions and then we'll come back. Over here, please go ahead.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: My name is Sharda. I am a researcher. I work on the project One World Connected. I wanted to make an observation and also ask a question. The observation that I wanted to make from some of the research that I have been doing in compiling case studies, which I'm hoping to collaborate more with EQUALS as well as the BPF on is just that, like, we -- I'm finding out more and more that there are women involved in these initiatives but also that these women don't have the ability to network among others, especially in the field of access, to be able to connect with other people. One of the examples is a woman that I'm speaking to is currently a Peace Corps worker who has been doing great work in building a Community Network there but hasn't had an opportunity to connect with the broader networking community, which I feel is -- which I feel should give us pause because I feel like it's not just the ability to build capacity individually but the ability to build a peer network for women in particular who are working on issues of access, especially access to the Internet, because I feel like that community at this point -- and I might be very naive, but at this point seems to be a male-dominated community where making inroads for women is often difficult or they don't know the right contact points. Mentorship programs might be a great idea. I wanted to ask if either EQUALS or the BPF or any of the partners in the room might be willing to consider instituting a mentor program for individuals that are working within their communities to be able to build that access and be able to collaborate with them to be able to give them support.
>> DOREEN BOGDAN-MARTIN: Okay. Thank you for that. I'm being told we're going to have to shut down in a minute, unfortunately, because there's so much to say, we could go on.
So I would suggest that other comments and questions, maybe we can take them outside the room. I don't know if, Paul, you wanted to say a quick word about the issue that was raised in the case of Uganda about curricula or about the entrepreneurship, Cecile or Yolanda, but very briefly, please.
>> PAUL MITCHELL: I think you're absolutely right. This is the approach that we took in our project in Kenya where we actually worked with the schools and with the teachers to actually revise the curriculum as part of the entire project, so that -- because we recognized you have to get the teachers at the beginning with the skills to be able to carry it through, so ICTs is not a special subject, ICTs are used in teaching, and that -- and there's a fundamental difference of approach, and it's worked very well in that situation where three years on, there's a couple grade point average improvement in the national exams.
>> CECILE BARAYRE: Very quickly, since you're from Uganda, Rwanda is a good example where we have to move things. The president has put ICT -- so there's a strong leadership on that, and he has, indeed, changed a lot of things in the country, including access with solar panel energy and schools as well curricula, and I wanted to say UNCTAD is going to look at the strategy on eCommerce that Rwanda has been having so far and providing recommendations, so definitely this aspect of education will be there in IT skills. Now, network, just quickly, as I said, this is very important for us, as well. I may not have made the point strongly enough, about you that's what we want to create, not only in terms of access and infrastructure but in best practices in reaching out to global markets, global platform. That's, indeed, very important. Thank you very much for that.
>> YOLANDA MARTINEZ: And just to give you a quick example, the responsibility for the ICT policy in Mexico is in the IGF, so I can put you in contact, because there has to be a constitutional reform, but one that is very simply implemented, so I think it will be a great access for to you learn at the chair.
>> LARA BLANCO: Well, I'm sorry we didn't have more time actually too, because I have so many things that I would want to say, as I've been hearing all of you present, but I will just close by saying that we are committed to partnering with everybody to do as much as we can, and I think we -- we owe it as well to women. I'm very -- I think I'm very concerned about the data. If you look at the SDG 5, actually, the indicator that we're supposed to use is access to mobile phones, actually. It's having -- having mobile phones, and we need to go far beyond that and understand and learn more about what we have in our hands to be able to work, so the topic of big data, for example, which we can use also to understand this topic but many others as well. Hopefully this partnership will help us run with all these topics, and of course, since we are in the region, both of us, I think we can start working right away, so thank you very much to everybody. Jac, it was wonderful to hear you, and all of you. Thank you.
>> DOREEN BOGDAN-MARTIN: Thank you, Lara So in the spirit of gender equality, I'm going to invite either Peter Major, who's the chair of the CSTD, to say a brief word.
>> PETER MAJOR: Thank you. I really feel at home. I have two daughters and one wife, so -- thank you for the session. It was very enlightening, and I will propose to the commission to have as one of the priority themes SDG 5 in the upcoming session, well, in 2018. I think it's extremely important. We usually treat these issues -- some education is very important, and especially we are treating it, but to have a holistic view, I will propose as a priority. Thank you.
>> DOREEN BOGDAN-MARTIN: That's a perfect way to conclude. Thank you very much. That's very concrete, and we welcome that -- that proposal. So I would invite all of you, check out our website, equals.org. Follow us on Twitter, which is @equals. Use the #beequals, as you see on the screen, and we look forward to collaborating with all of you. EQUALS is a open multistakeholder partnership, so we invite you to join us in bridging the digital gender gap.
Before we leave, I'd like to invite you all to stand up and we're going to make the EQUALS' sign.
So thank you very much, and please stand up. Thank you. And Vladimir is helping to photograph, and we have the cameraman still here, so -- so you can do this anywhere you go. Get your kids, your friends, get people involved, make the sign and use the hashtag, and we will retweet you.
Be EQUALS. Thank you very much.
(Session concluded at 11:19 a.m.)