IGF 2018 LIGHTNING SESSION #12 Women Empowerment through ICTS

Theme: Development, Innovation, and Economic Issues.

Subtheme: Internet for Development and Sustainable Development Goals for Women

Moderator: Maria Beebe

Organizer: Lima Madomi

Some women’s empowerment problems could be addressed at the national and regional level by understanding gender and the use of the Internet. The session will review case studies from Afghanistan, India, Tajikistan, and Philippines. Participants will be requested to share possible solutions.


  • Zuhra Halimova (Civil Society/ CIS) Tajikstan 
  • Lima Madomi, TechWomen Afghanistan (Private Sector/AP) Afghanistan
  • Osama Manzar, Digital Empowerment Foundation, India (Civil Society/AP)


Session Time

IGF 2018 Report
Lightning Session #12
“Women’s Empowerment through ICTs”

- Session Title:
Women’s Empowerment through ICTs 
-    Date: November 13, 2018

- Time: 13:40pm – 14:00pm (Lightning session)

-    Session Organizer:
Lima Madomi, TechWomen.Asia (Civil Society)

-    Chair/Moderator:
Maria Beebe, Ph.D. Portland State University (Academia) 

-    Rapporteur/Notetaker:

- List of Speakers and their institutional affiliations:
Maria Beebe, Ph.D. TechNation (Private Sector)
Osama Manzar. Digital Empowerment, India (Civil Society)
Lima Madomi/Anastacia Sendrea. TechWomen.Asia (Civil Society) 

-    Key Issues raised (1 sentence per issue):

•    ICT matters for gender equality. 
•    Gender equality requires elimination of discrimination against women, ending violence against women and children, including human trafficking, and ending harmful practices against children, including forced and early marriage and female genital mutilation.
•    Gender equality issues are complex and need multi-stakeholder collaboration. 

-    If there were presentations during the session, please provide a 1-paragraph summary for each presentation:

The presentation is summarized in the discussion below. 

-    Please describe the Discussions that took place during the workshop session (3 paragraphs):

•    Why does ICT matter for gender equality? Ignite global fund for women.org provides a good visual and summary. Technology reflects the people who make it, currently most technology is designed by MEN. Women have less access to technology. For example, in 2013, the gap between men and women’s access to Internet was 200 million. In 2016, the estimate is 350 million. A two-fold increase in only 3 years. In many parts of the world, women are 21% less likely to own a mobile phone. Finally, ignite indicates that: Teams that include women are smarter, faster and more innovative. Women-led companies show a 21% ROI compared to men-led. If 600 million additional women and girls were online, the boost to GDP would be 18 billion. 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. But there are obstacles and challenges, in part because of discrimination against women and girls. Which brings us to our second key message:  To achieve gender equality, the SDGs set several Goal 5 Targets. Given the time limitation only the first three targets were discussed: End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere; Eliminate all forms of violence against all women (VAW) and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking, sexual slavery, forced labor, and surrogate childbearing, organ harvesting, and other types of exploitation; and Eliminate all harmful practices, such as early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation. Case studies from Afghanistan, India, and the Philippines were shared.
•    India is a country where connectivity and Internet usage is skewed. While the country has a privilege to have the third largest Internet penetration it also has a paradox of having almost 80 percent population yet to be connected. Talking about women participation in the connected world, there are more than 92 percent rural women do not even have access to mobile devices or mobile connectivity. Besides, 72 percent of all women in India do not have access to mobile. Yet there is a huge population of women who are connected to the cyber world and while they are empowered through being connected they also face various online challenges like discrimination, violence and hate speeches. The discrimination against women to get them into digital inclusiveness is largely because of patriarchal practices in India where all digital devices first accessed or provided to males or brothers or fathers or sons. From the experiences of the large-scale work of digital empowerment foundation (DEF) in India it has been learnt that young girls and women either do not have access to Internet and mobile or they get second chance or opportunity after a lot of subjugation. In the meanwhile, since women get trolled online more than men, Ministry of Women and Child Development in India have created a helpline called “I am Trolled” helpline to enable anyone to report cases of trolling and online violence that may be affecting women and children. During the period from July 2016 to November 2017, they had received 97 complains. Besides DEF who does large scale digital literacy across India including women and adolescent girls, has incorporated special module on safety and security online and also how to tackle fake news and misinformation. One of the major examples as a government initiative is using aadhaar or unique ID as a mechanism to find missing children. Additionally, Ministry of Home Affairs has made IPC 153A expanded to include punishment for hate speech to strengthen legislation and safety to women and children online.

•    Women in Afghanistan have less access to justice, legal remedies, and compensation for crimes suffered. In Afghanistan, the most prevalent form of violence against women is domestic violence. Early marriage results in the exclusion of girls from education and limits future opportunities in the labor market. Under-age girls married to older men often have no negotiating leverage in family planning and early fertility is a major cause of childbirth complications and maternal mortality. 

•    Addressing gender equality needs multi-stakeholder collaboration. An example from the Philippines showed how different stakeholders could help end violence against women. For the woman/girl, empowerment, knowing their rights, speaking out and reporting to authorities, encouraging others to fight for their rights. For the men/boy, respecting women and girls at home, workplace, and community; joining male groups promoting anti-VAW efforts, enlightening perpetrators to seek help, etc. Other stakeholders, such as government agencies, local governments, private sector, and academia have their roles and responsibilities to fulfill. 

-    Please describe any Participant suggestions regarding the way forward/ potential next steps /key takeaways (3 paragraphs):

•    A participant asked about the issue of anonymity when reporting on violence against women in countries like Afghanistan.
•    The moderator noted that in addressing violence against women with technology, another problem crops up, as in technology-based violence against women.
•    Several participants at the end of the session wanted to know how to partner up with TechWomen.Asia.

Gender Reporting

-    Estimate the overall number of the participants present at the session:

There were approximately 30 total participants

-    Estimate the overall number of women present at the session:

Approximately 15 participants were women. The panel itself was gender balanced, with two out of three speakers being women.

-    To what extent did the session discuss gender equality and/or women’s empowerment?
-    If the session addressed issues related to gender equality and/or women’s empowerment, please provide a brief summary of the discussion:

The whole session focused on women’s empowerment and why ICT matters.