3 reasons why ICT matters for gender equality

  • 17 July 2017
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A United Nations High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development is in full swing to track progress on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), formally adopted two years ago.

For women the world over, information and communication technologies (ICT) can be leveraged for personal security, better access to education and jobs, financial inclusion or to access basic healthcare information. But benefits such as these rely on women having meaningful access to ICT which can be facilitated or prevented by several factors, including affordability, relevant content, skills and security.

SDG 5 aims to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls and calls for enhanced use of enabling technology – ICTs in particular – to promote the empowerment of women.

To help turn commitment into action, the International Chamber of Commerce has teamed up with UN Women – the global champion for gender equality – to host a side-event during the HLPF.  The event, entitled Accelerating Women’s Economic Empowerment to Achieve the 2030 Agenda will showcase the global efforts stakeholders have embarked on to bring women’s economic empowerment to the forefront of all the SDG targets.

Through innovation, investment and development of products and services, the private sector plays an important role in advancing gender equality and improving the lives of women. While women make up more than 50% of the world’s population, they also represent 70% of the world’s poor.  According to research, women reinvest 80% of every dollar made back into her family, meaning that practical support for the economic empowerment of women is a crucial step towards eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity.

At the event, ICC will highlight private sector initiatives that are catalysing women’s economic empowerment in developed and developing countires and present just how ICT can help advance the global goals.

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Here are 3 reasons why ICT matters for gender equality:

  1. Opportunity

The Internet is a great enabler, creating unprecedented opportunities for female entrepreneurs to enter global markets for the first time. ICT provides opportunities to boost small business growth by establishing an international, level-playing field that enables all businesses, regardless of size, location or sector, to compete on an equal footing in global markets. Programmes through partnerships can help realise the opportunities ICT can offer, by boosting skilling,equipping women with digital devices and providing training that helps women teach their respective communities how to make the most of these tools. Today’s side event will highlight the importance of multistakeholder collaboration in these efforts and showcase business initiatives that are using ICT to support women’s participation in the workforce and aid financial inclusion.

  1. Capacity

ICT can give women access to basic needs such as healthcare and education. The private sector plays a pivotal role in investing in community-oriented training, deploying infrastructure and delivering a wide range of ICT services to meet these needs. A recently published ICC policy paper on ICT, Policy and Sustainable Economic Development, to be shared at the event, underscores that for countries to enhance the use of enabling technology for the goal goals they must create an enabling environment for sustainable investment.

  1. Understanding

Women are currently less likely than men to use or own digital technologies, with gaps larger among youth and those over 45 years old. ICT improves efficiency, enhances coordination and improves the quality of information gathered and shared for development planning. For countries to leverage ICT to promote the empowerment of women, governments need to be well-informed about how the ICT ecosystem works in practice, the barriers to access and how challenges can be overcome. ICC aims to raise awareness of the impact that policies on infrastructure, applications, services and user-engagement have on the ICT ecosystem and believes greater understanding of these issues can equip policymakers with a framework to identify appropriate policy approaches.

The ICC/UN Women side-event will take place today Monday, 17 July at UN Headquarters in New York from 13:15 – 14:30 local time. Participants will include contributors to the UN Secretary General High-Level Panel for Women’s Economic Empowerment and speakers from the Government of the United Kingdom, Government of Costa Rica, UN Women, the International Labour Organization, ICC Secretary General John Danilovich, and Carolyn Nguyen of Microsoft who is also Vice-Chair of the ICC Commission on the Digital Economy.