The following are the outputs of the real-time captioning taken during the Fourteenth Annual Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Berlin, Germany, from 25 to 29 November 2019. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the event, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.
>> MODERATOR: Good morning, everyone. I hope you can hear me. Thank you so much for joining us here today. My name is Tamara Dancheva, and I am the international relations manager with GSMA. As you would note with the title of the session, we are here today, this open forum, to discussion digital gender equality and in particular the activities of the EQUALS Research Group, which is currently led by the UN University Center on Computing and Society. And in today's session, we are going to look closely into some of the main outcomes of the EQUALS Research Group 2019 report, Taking Stock, which discusses data and evidence on gender equality in the digital access skills and leadership categories.
For those of you not familiar with EQUALS, EQUALS is a global partnership which was cofounded in 2016 by GSMA, UN Women, ITU, ITC, and UN University to bridge the digital gender gap. And currently, EQUALS has over 90 partners who work on various different issues, and here today we have some of our colleagues who have either partnered with EQUALS or members of EQUALS to discuss their own research and their own contributions under those various categories on digital gender equality and, really, how can we bridge this gap, and what are the challenges that we currently face?
To start off, I would like to invite my colleague to my right, Anne Igeltjorn. Anne is an award-winning social entrepreneur and the CEO of the Global Universal Design Commission Europe. She is recognized by the UN as a leading innovator in universal design of ICT. And she is also serving currently on the Board of Directors for Gender Technology Inequality, which is a student organization at Oslo Metropolitan University. Anne, over to you.
>> ANNE IGELTJORN: Thank you for that introduction. So as you mentioned, my business partner and I started a company, Global Universal Design Commission Europe, so that we can work for the better digital inclusion. We do this by using universal design as our guideline with a focus in three areas, being including ICT, sustainable development, and social innovation. I believe that we are dependent on awareness raising by directly targeting stakeholders that are putting money and/or expertise working on innovation. We need to make sure that they are informed so we can make educated decisions while developing ICT solutions, also considering two different genders. Gender in aspect of technology design is that technology usually ends up having a gender being male because there are so many male developers out there and so few female. I think that we could see a world where all genders are better including if we also have more female and women developers. I also think that increasing the ratio of stakeholders that are women would also help us also create a better equality just because you, as a stakeholder, usually take decisions based on your point of view. And if you only have male stakeholders, how are we going to get the female view and the women's insight into that?
I also think that if you are a male stakeholder and you are in a very male-dominated group, asking for advice from experts will also include the other point of view. So that way we can avoid making the same mistakes over and over again and ending up in an evil circle.
I also want to bring in a bit about the insight I have being a student in the field of ICT the past three years being a woman. I have heard many strange statements over these years and rumors from different people undertaking bachelor degrees. One of those remarks was the first day of school: Make sure you partner with males in your group work or else your project will suffer. That's not a really cool thing to get told to you when you start a new field of study and you are really invested in doing something good. Another time I heard that a new graduate experienced that new female employees were sent to introduction course; whereas, their male counterparts could just start right away programming. I also had a supervisor from a computing team during a hackathon looking over my shoulder asking quite condescendingly if I needed help with that. My victory, though, was that I won the hackathon, so I kind of thought that was a bit fun, and it was a way of showing that I don't really need that much help.
What I feel that I have lacked during my studies and what is a cultural problem is having women and female professors as role models, and I know that this is something many organizations work on improving in Norway. Every year famous students, engineers, and scientists go on a promotion tour to show girls in high school that technology is not just a career path for men. The initiative is created and supported by NHO, which is the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise. Results from the university where I study shows that more women are actually taking and pursuing degrees within STEM fields. But still a question remains: How many of these women are actually finishing up the degrees? Even though we have higher degrees of applicants, how many are actually contributing and following through? I also think that how many of them ends up in a job being related to their initial professional choice and the numbers towards that.
One way that we are addressing this issue is by creating student organization within gender equality in technology. What we want to do is create a clear picture of those who stay on the paths towards a professional career within ICT and the reasons for why others drop out. We would also like to open a dialogue with the administration of the university because we believe that it is a topic that they, as a stakeholder, would be interested in knowing more about. It is hard to know what kind of interventions or measures we can do if we don't have a better understanding of the underlying problem.
I also believe that there are two pipelines issues that we might be able to look into directly, which is childhood and upbringing. I feel that a lot of my female friends and women look at their female role models and end up taking and pursuing the same careers as them. And also being told that, well, you can't do math and STEM and all that because it's hard. But we do have equalities, and there shouldn't be a barrier there, but I think there is.
Also, access to jobs after pursuing a degree in STEM is a topic that I think we need to look more into just because women who go into STEM struggle to get related employment because a lot of the people who employ people are men. In addition to that, I also think making sure you have equal job opportunities as your male counterparts is crucial because having the same job and getting unequal pay is not cool. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you, Anne. This was very insightful, particularly, of course, because you have experienced personally some of the barriers, and I think that emphasizes the importance of addressing social-cultural barriers to gender digital equality because we know, of course, what happens in society is reflected, of course, in industries and what, of course, we do overall, and of course, it transposes into the digital space as well, which is, of course, why we are here today. Thank you so much, and I look forward to engaging with the audience and yourself in a bit.
I would also now like to introduce our second speaker of this session, to my left, Ruhiya Seward. She has PhD and is currently a senior program officer with the Network Economies Team at the International Development Research Center in the Technology and Innovation program. She oversees a portfolio of research on digital governance in the Global South focusing on human rights, gender equality, cyber security, open development, data analytics, and artificial intelligence. Ruhiya, over to you.
>> RUHIYA SEWARD: Thanks very much for the introduction.
Yes, so what I am going to do, so International Development Research Center, IDRC, we focus on research around what we might term the Global South for lack of a more concise term. And one of our main things that we support is research to policy, so we try to seed and help support research ecosystems on a range of topics having to do with ICTs, you know, information communication technology.
So I have been spearheading among the team of people that I work with a digital gender equality portfolio, and one of our main interventions with the EQUALS Partnership was through our after access research. It's a household survey project that shows -- it's the demand side of ICT access in youth, and it's incredibly powerful research because it's statistically significant for the countries that they do the research in, and it's gender disaggregated, and you can read their findings in the report that came out in March, and it's very -- it's excellent work. You know, it's not always a topic that other donors necessarily appreciate because in a way access is kind of unsexy, as some will say, but it's incredibly powerful work, and it really shows some of the huge gaps between men and women in the Global South, like in places like Rwanda and India, which is always surprising.
But I am also going to talk about some of the other work that we do at IDRC around digital gender inequality because we tend to work across a range of issue areas, you know, from governance to -- you know, from access and connectivity to governance to openness online. So for the past two years -- last year -- Canada was the chair of the Open Government Partnership, so as part of that work with the Canadian government, we supported something called the Feminist Open Government, and this, again, shows that range of issue areas between the online and the offline. So it's around openness online as well as activities offline and how you facilitate participation for women, the gender pay gap, and so anyway, we call that FOGO.
And then something that I am particularly passionate on is the Feminist Internet Research Network that we support through the APC Women's Rights Program, and this, the FIRN, as it's called, is focusing on four different areas that were identified through a mapping as being gaps in the research landscape, so this includes access and connectivity, labor and economy, and gendered labor and inequality online -- economy online, excuse me -- datafication big data and analytics; as well as online gender-based violence. So this network, actually, quite a few of the partners in that network are actually here at the IGF presenting on a range of panels, including one that I just had to leave, and for instance, there's a grantee in Uganda that's doing survey work across five different countries in Africa looking at the situation of online gender-based violence and legal ecosystems.
And then another piece of work that we do is gender transformative research in Brazil and India, looking at it's called Resist, Remedy, and -- I forgot the last piece of it. Anyways, what they are doing is they are doing a -- so it's truly trying to aim to be gender transformative, so it's looking at the legal ecosystems currently available in India and Brazil around hate speech online, hate speech and misogynistic speech online. Then distilling what's happening online with what's happening offline and how this is redefining and creating -- normalizing sexism and misogyny in the on-ground space, you know, in the world that we live in, and how this interaction between the online and the on-ground is influencing norms for women in LGBT communities, so it's incredibly interesting work, and we've really just started it. And that was, again, just a panel I came from on detoxing the net where they were sharing some of the early research they were finding.
Actually, my sister program area, Foundations for Innovation at IDRC, is also doing a range of women in STEM work, but I can't speak to it because I don't know it so well. But I will say that IDRC itself -- and I meant to bring papers, and I can share a link. IDRC is celebrating its 50th anniversary next year, and part of what we have been doing the last few years is reviewing our portfolio of gender equality. So we did a full study across our programs and our projects over the last 50 years and drew out some of the lessons we had learned of supporting gender transformative work. It's very interesting, one of those projects was something called HARASSmap that we supported in Egypt, which was an application to help people report anonymously experiences of sexual harassment in Cairo, and it had -- it was quite influential, actually, although it's always hard to trace that influence from application to policy, but it did help support a policy against sexual harassment at Cairo University, and it also helps create safe space, so this is one of the projects that is was a case study in that gender transformative paper.
And at the moment, we are also working on supporting a survey of Global South countries around online gender-based violence or online experiences of people because, actually, there's a gap in the literature on this. We know what happens through, like, a Pew study in North America or in United States, I should say, and there was a study in Europe, but we don't actually know very much about what's happening to people online. In the Global South, partly there are huge connectivity gaps, so that's part of the challenge, but it's quite groundbreaking work to explore these issues online for people. I mean, we know that from the after-access survey that was run by Research ICT Africa that actually men experience -- partly because they have greater connectivity -- but men experience a lot of harassment from other men. That was one of their findings. Anyway, we want to try to unpack that and understand more about what experiences people are having and also what sort of mechanisms we have to help support that. So it's a range of issues around gender equality, but I am happy to discuss more. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you. Thank you so much, Ruhiya. I think you also underlined a very important point. I think we very often don't necessarily make the link between physical and online violence, but that link very much exists, and unfortunately, it further reaffirms the gender discrimination and bias that exists, but at the same time, I also like your example because I think when we use technology for social good, you could actually, you know, prevent some of this violence, prevent some of this abuse. And there are a number of examples, and obviously in this case, you developed the sexual harassment application to track these cases but more importantly to make sure there is a prevention mechanism. So I think, again, we should keep this in mind when we discuss later on because, of course, you know, as long as there is a careful balance, I think technology can serve to actually promote gender equality and not necessarily hamper it.
And now I would like to give the floor to our third panelist for today, Daniel Kardefelt-Winther. Daniel leads UNICEF's research program on children and digital technologies at the Office of Research. In his role with UNICEF, he manages the Global Kids Online and Disrupting Harm projects, generating new evidence with children in more than 30 low- and middle-income countries. Over to you, Daniel.
>> DANIEL KARDEFELT-WINTHER: Thank you very much. Glad to be here. Not only because I personally find the topic of gender equality very important, but also because UNICEF as an organization has this as a really critical issue because without gender equality, a large proportion of the world's children will not have their rights realized. That's a problem.
I think when people thought digital technology was like the mobile phone and the Internet started to spread, they felt, for good reason, perhaps, that this would be the great equalizer, not only between men and women, but perhaps also between the rich and poor because now everyone would have a voice in the public debate, there would be equal opportunities, et cetera. While at some level that might be true, and while there are great examples of how technology can be used to bridge gender gaps, I think we can safely say that technology in and of itself is not and probably will not be enough to overcome gender inequality, and structural and normative inequalities seem to transfer to the online environment as well, which is perhaps not so surprising, and I think the previous speaker actually alluded to that quite well.
One of the things that the EQUALS report that was released earlier this year highlighted, which is what I am going to talk about today, is the lack of internationally comparable gender-disaggregated data on most ICT indicators, especially for developing countries. This is certainly true, and even more so in terms of data on ICT indicators for children, which is what UNICEF is concerned with. And as Tamara mentioned, as part of my work, I lead several evidence gender division programs, together with colleagues from around the world, and one of the main objectives that we have really is to improve data collection efforts on ICT-related access, use, risks, and skills for children to really understand what this looks like. And of course, we have a gender lens to all of our work, and we will provide even more gender-disaggregated data and make that openly available.
So over the past four years, we have conducted research in 18 countries outside of Europe, and I think this is an important point because, actually, the evidence base in Europe and the United States is decent. I mean, at least we have something. But beyond that, we don't really have so much, and that's really been a key mission for us. So together with UNICEF country offices and academic partners and governments, we have done research in 18 countries, as I said, and we'll be covering another 12 countries next year, primarily Eastern/Southern Africa and Southeast Asia. And yesterday here at the IGF, we launched a first comparative report where we summarized data from about 15,000 children living in 11 countries spread across 4 continents, Latin America, Central/Eastern Europe, Africa, and Southeast Asia, to just kind of try to take a first stab at the data situation for children and see what that looks like. It's not all the data that we need, but it's a decent start.
But before I start talking about the gender-relevant findings of that report, I want to flag up front that we serve Internet-using children because we want to understand the modalities of their access and their online experiences, and we can't do that with children who don't have access. I say that because I want to emphasize that we know that in many countries girls do not have the same access opportunities as boys do. For example, work by UNICEF India that came out two years ago showed considerable gender differences in basic access to technology. When I did focus groups with children in schools in India, it also became clear that even when girls do have basic access, they are sometimes monitored to an extent that there's actually a chilling effect on their usage. So even though they have access, they can't really do what they would like to do because their parents are going to find out and punish them for it. So we know there are gender differences and that this is a serious problem. But interestingly, among the Internet-using children that we have surveyed so far, we actually find surprisingly few differences in terms of their access, usage, skills, and risks. And in fact, again, as EQUALS report alluded to, we find that in some countries girls are ahead of boys on a number of indicators. It's interesting. Mostly related to digital skills, mostly in Latin American region, but even so. We actually found no real gender differences in terms of how parents support or restrict children's usage either.
And all of this came as a surprise to us. In the full report that is available on our website, we have a lot of data gender disaggregated, but you will see almost no gender differences. Very curious. So it's a bit puzzling to us, but I can think of several explanations for this. One is that our questions are not precise enough to capture existing inequalities in terms of usage dynamics. So for example, like we found in India it may be that girls have equal opportunities to engage in activities online in terms of, you know, they actually have access, but that their usage looks different because they are monitored. We can't really track that with our questions. Another reason for this, why we don't see many gender differences and perhaps more positive one could be that once children actually overcome barriers to access, they tend to use the Internet in largely similar ways, irrespective of whether it's a boy or a girl. So perhaps in homes where all children are allowed to go online and where the gender dimension is less of an issue, most differences in their online experiences disappear. Or at least some of them. And the third reason could be that in country where is with he have collected data, gender inequality is not as pronounced as in other countries, so we see less of an effect on children's use. I do think we need more internationally comparable data because once we have a data from countries that are very, very different, also in terms of structural issues and gender norms, we are going to be able to trace differences in ICT-related gender inequality to a much greater extent.
Interestingly, the one indicator where we do see considerable gender differences is when we ask children how often they play online games, where boys across the board seem to play more than girls. This is not to say that girls don't play games, and I want to be very clear about that. In fact, in most countries, a considerable proportion, sometimes a majority, of girls play online games on a weekly basis as well. It's just not as often as boys. But it's worth considering why this is the case and what we can do about it because the gaming environment is an increasingly important venue for children to realize their rights, whether it's to education, freedom of expression, participation, play, leisure, et cetera. And so it's very unfortunate if girls cannot enjoy this to the same extent as boys if they would want to. And this past Tuesday, in fact, here at the IGF, we had a panel with the Dynamic Coalition on Child Online Safety, where some of the panelists raised the issue of harassment and sexism in the online gaming environment, which tends to more frequently target women and girls, and it's entirely possible that the gender difference we observe with respect to parts participation in online games is due to the fact that harmful gender norms and behaviors transfer to the online gaming environment and actually make it a more hostile place for women and girls. And this is something that UNICEF is going to observe in more detail and hopefully try to find some opportunities to address. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you, Daniel. This is actually fascinating research because indeed your findings are contrary to what we would expect. So I think it's definitely -- provides an opportunity for research, food for thought, and raising the right questions.
To start off, of course, this discussion, I would like to open up the floor to all of you for questions, but before I do that, I thought it would be actually very useful to draw your attention to some of the key findings in the taking data and stock report because we are here today to discuss that, and we have seen some very interesting research stemming from some of the colleagues who presented here, and I cannot find actually a better opportunity to discuss this than now because, as you know, next year marks the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Platform, Declaration for Action, so I think our discussions here are very timing because often I find that digital inclusion somehow is not considered as serious enough in terms of a factor when we discuss women's empowerment; right? And I think it's actually crucial. We've heard from the colleagues that that actually has the potential to empower women and girls because, you know, nowadays, everything happens online. And technology gives you access, really, to the world. And you can't really be a girl and be excluded from the online community if you are to prosper.
So I personally found some of the statistics in the report quite alarming and quite staggering, and I would like to actually start the debate with that. When it comes to access -- and Daniel pointed this out -- we can see currently -- and this is actually something that our colleagues from GSMA in our global gender gap report pointed out to -- there are currently 184 million fewer women than men who have access to a mobile phone, and there are 324 million fewer women than men who actually have access to mobile Internet. Now, just think about that. There are only also 35% of women globally who study STEM subjects, and the majority of them actually are a subject that don't necessarily focus on applied sciences. And there are less than 35% of women globally who are ICT professionals. I personally find this very worrisome as a woman, of course, in this sector, but I think we all agree we can do better.
With that, I would like to open the floor for any questions to our panelists and, of course, to further discuss some of the issues that came from our discussions. And Daniel, I like what you said, that technology alone is actually not enough to overcome the digital gender divide or the gender divide in general. So what can we do more? How can we overcome these social cultural barriers and engage different stakeholders to actually resolve these gaps? So I open the floor now to questions.
>> AUDIENCE: Hi. Good morning. My name is Nicholas Padgett. I am part of the (?) communications. I am happy to see IDRC in the panel and hear about (?) because that way I have to say less things. I just wanted to raise, to bring your attention to another IDRC-funded research that we conducted last year that was around bottom-up connectivity strategies. That is related to that a study specifically was run around 14 connectivity projects around three continents or three areas, Latin America, Asia Pacific, and Africa, and showed specifically the gender gaps in relation to connectivity, and a very good amount of takeaways and reflections about how they can be breached. So I just don't want to take too much time on that. If you go to APC website, our IDRC website, you can find the research there, and we can continue the conversation on that topic in particular. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you. And indeed, I was actually at the session that you ran yesterday or the day before, I should say, which was, indeed, very interesting. But again, maybe, then, if you don't have a question, then I would pose the question to my colleagues: How do we overcome these barriers, and what can we do, actually, to make sure that, you know, women and girls are not consistently left behind? Because while we know that connectivity is spreading quickly, it's not spreading equally, so how can we actually resolve this?
>> DANIEL KARDEFELT-WINTHER: I mean, I don't know if this is a satisfying answer, but I think clearly it is a structural issue, and it's an issue around norms. I think we all know that. But the challenge is how do you address this faster; right? Because I think there are a lot of initiatives. There's a lot of discussion about how can we overcome inequalities and how can we combat harmful norms, but actually, throwing maybe open question, how do we do it faster? Because we see -- you know, we see some progress, but it's not fast enough, and I am a bit -- I don't know how to do that faster.
>> In fact, what we are seeing too, based on the work I know from Internet Lab and IT for Change is actually we are seeing kind of a backlash against gender equality. So there's like a great chilling effect. I mean, I think many female public figures can attest to the fact that being a female in the public sphere online is somewhat dangerous, actually. I mean, it's hard to be a woman and have a voice. And I don't really know how we do it faster, but I know that what we are seeing is a backlash, actually, when it comes to the normalization of sexism online. So but I guess coming as a policy person, you know, I think what we do need is more evidence of what's happening, and we need more research to policy, and we need to be able to influence policy ecosystems as much as possible. But in influencing those policy ecosystems, we need leadership that's receptive. And what we are seeing in many places in the world in the Global North and in the Global South are policy leaders and leaders who are not receptive to gender equality and, in fact, we are seeing a kind of patriarchal backlash. So I don't know how we deal with that, but we can't give up. I think we have to just keep working at it. But we do need an evidence base to show evidence really makes a difference.
>> DANIEL KARDEFELT-WINTHER: Can I follow up on that? I think what you say is actually very interesting that we see a backlash because I think we also see a kind of reduced respect for human rights in general. And I wonder how closely those are linked. I also wonder if possibly the online environment is kind of exacerbating that in some ways. I certainly don't think it's the cause of it, but I think, as you say, it's very easy now to communicate ideas and thoughts that are not necessarily conducive to a more productive discussion around rights and equality. But I think, as you say, a good starting point would be -- and again, I am actually kind of paraphrasing the EQUALS report here -- is to encourage more data collection on basic gender-disaggregated indicators, basically, whether it's for digital things or, I mean, perhaps more interestingly in other parts of life, I would say. And I think just mainstreaming that through national statistics offices globally would actually go a pretty long way because then, as you say, that's what would enable us to make evidence-informed arguments around the situation for I think women and girls mostly, but perhaps also boys and men in some respects. I think that it's really important, and I think actually, that's not -- it shouldn't be too difficult to do. I will be quite optimistic.
>> AUDIENCE: Thanks, Tamara. I am Nicole Pitter Patterson from She Leads It and Caribbean Girls Hack. Just following up on what you were saying that connectivity is spreading quickly but not equally, one of the things that we've tried to do with our work in the Caribbean is to is to in fact get others who are in the field to document what is the evidence, where are we at in terms of digital skills and digital access and engagement. We, through the hackathon that we run across a number of countries, we just did a very small sample survey questionnaire of the participants that we had for the hackathon this year, and 34.5% of the respondents indicated that Internet connectivity challenges are, in fact, some of the things that stay as an impediment to them actually being online. But that is very anecdotal information, and actually, we have a number of research institutions, whether related with the university, there's UN entities that are there, and in fact, we are happy to use this medium as a call-out again to say that whether maybe we need to really have more involvement of the mobile service providers who would be actually best positioned to really offer new products to not just young girls and women, you know, but also, of course, all of the different aspects of the market if they have very clear gender-disaggregated information that then can respond to. And efforts like what we are doing and others are doing in terms of training and upskilling girls can actually be something that can feed into that. So I am sending another shout-out because we very much would like to continue on doing, really drilling down what we need as research from an evidence information within the Caribbean itself to actually then inform what's the situation in the Caribbean.
A lot of the times we get attached to LAC, but even the information for LAC vis-a-vis number of women with mobile phones and all that kind of stuff, it's very different from the Caribbean.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you, Nicole. I am actually glad you mentioned mobile operators because, as a matter of fact, GSMA works with its mobile operators to ensure that some of these gaps are closed. In fact, our Connected Women program has a commitment initiative that is working with mobile operators who are willing to make a commitment to close the gap, both when it comes to access to mobile Internet, but also mobile money, which is not something you've mentioned so far, but it's equally important because financial inclusion is key for female empowerment, and as we know in low- and middle-income countries, very often the only way in which a woman can have a bank account is actually by accessing financial services through her mobile phone. Right? And so I think that's equally important. And again, I look forward to your comments on that.
I actually thought that to kind of give this discussion a bit of a kick in dynamic, I would ask each of you to engage in a five-minute conversation with an awesome partner next to you to kind of think of what are the challenges that women in your communities face when it comes to access to technologies. So what are the challenges? Why does this problem exist? Why is the problem there in the first place? And why is the problem persistent? So if I could ask you to do that for five minutes, to kind of chat with your partner next to you, and kind of brainstorm about the challenges women in your community face when it comes to access to technology and why the problems persist, that would be great, then we will come back with your findings and continue the discussions. So five minutes, and I encourage Nicole, who is also our online moderator, to do the same for any participants that are online. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you, everyone. I am cautious that we have roughly ten minutes remaining, so could I please ask you to cease the discussions and actually present some of your findings to the floor. So if you could maybe nominate someone from your group to kind of present some of the key discussions, and we can take it from there.
>> AUDIENCE: Hello. My name is Kamalanetra Hung from Pineapple Laboratories, and I am sitting now with Juan Pajaro from Ruta Trans. We are interested in data of the transgender community. My question to you as researcher is if it's part of the framework of your research also to have in gender equality identities that are, you know, outside the binary. Thank you.
>> RUHIYA SEWARD: Are you directing that to -- I will say absolutely. Absolutely. One of the big challenges is in countries where it's sensitive or illegal and how you create safe, ethical ways in which that can be discussed and answered. You know, sometimes, particularly if you are doing like a statistically significant survey in country, you have to work with the government, and sometimes the government's not willing to have those questions asked. But definitely part of our discourse around this and our interest is on, you know, that precise -- those precise issues, so for me, absolutely.
And definitely like it depends on how much -- like with the feminist research network with APC, that's a key thing, so it's good to know.
>> DANIEL KARDEFELT-WINTHER: Basically, I would mirror that response, but just to say under a new initiative called Disrupting Harm, which UNICEF is doing together with ECPAT International and INTERPOL, part of the research will also look into this, certainly, because we also see the need for more data, yeah, in that respect. I think it's really important but sometimes challenging.
>> AUDIENCE: Yeah, you are welcome to contact us if you want to later. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you. Any more comments in particular about the questions that we wanted to discuss, focusing on the challenges that perhaps women in your local communities face, and how do we overcome those challenges, and how do we actually make sure that there is a multi-stakeholder approach to those solutions? Anyone else that would like too comment on that?
>> AUDIENCE: Okay. Thank you very much. My name is Zarghona Jalazoy. I am Afghanistan Telecom Authority Board member. First I want to have a little brief explanation about the condition of this digital equality or digital divide in Afghanistan, especially among the genders, women and men. And second, I will have a question from you and I will have like a system from you from UNICEF that how can they help us in this regard?
In Afghanistan, there are many problems like one is traditional problem. People don't like that more women are involved in the digital sector, in IT, things like this.
And the second problem is in Afghanistan that they cannot find a job, women, easily. And women also have sometimes the fields of digital work, IT, or these fields they cannot work because there is no more, like, encouragement for the woman to encourage them for these fields.
And the second problem is that they cannot find the job easily.
And the third is that always give them the idea that these jobs belong to the men, and women cannot do this because this is hard work. So we are facing this issue and problem in our country. From traditional part, from this concept which is given to the women, but they are all very maybe low percentage of women to work in this area.
When I studied engineering, I studied mechanical electronic engineering, I was one woman in a whole class. All were men. So now when I am working in the work area or the top level of government, I am also just one woman in that position and in this field. So we are facing such issues in our country. But we are trying to work on this to build this digital divide because if we go like this, maybe in the future also again we will not find the women or encourage them to these fields. So what UNICEF can help us in this regard, and what is their plan for this country like Afghanistan and less improved country or improvement country?
Thank you very much.
>> DANIEL KARDEFELT-WINTHER: Thank you for your question, and I sympathize, really, with the challenges. I think UNICEF globally is working quite hard on reducing gender inequalities; however, I can't speak specifically for the UNICEF Afghanistan office because they are under a different mandate. I will be very happy to connect you to them to facilitate a discussion or see if they are addressing this in some way. I personally do not know. We have 194 offices, so I am not connected to all of them, but I am very happy to put you in touch with people there so you can get more information on their programs and how they are working on these issues. And apologies if that's a kind of unsatisfactory answer, but again, I can't speak for their office specifically.
>> AUDIENCE: It would be great if we have that contact, we can solve this issue. Thank you.
>> MODERATOR: I was alerted by my colleague, Nicole, that we have a question online. I would like to actually reiterate that we are very tight on time, so that would be the last question I would allow.
>> Actually, continue because he just dropped off. Technical difficulties.
>> MODERATOR: Unfortunate.
Any last question from the floor?
>> AUDIENCE: Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Widuri. I am from Indonesia, ICT Watch, and I would like to give a few of the challenges that we face in Indonesia. There are many of them. First of all is from the internal of the women with the domestic work in their field that mostly we should do training on them, and you know, they have to create some issues that we have to do the training not like three days in a row, but we have to put them into one small class because they have many domestic things that they cannot separate it with their daily life.
And then also we need -- in Indonesia, they still have -- you know, not have safety environment under Internet because they have -- you know, usually get harassed and also get many challenges there in the Internet, so there are many women afraid to use or engage in the Internet because of that.
And also, there is also an echo chamber, the meaningful usage of women in Indonesia. Are they still -- you know, they use Facebook, they use Instagram, they use -- what is it? -- many social media platforms, but then when we kind of, you know, ask them do you have email, no, I don't have email. But then how can you have a Facebook account? No, someone just made that for me. There's a gap there. The meaningful usage still isn't there in Indonesia, so we have many homeworks to do to get the digital literacy on their behalf.
And also our policymaking process is still not a thing that is important to including women on the policymaking process, and also what is it, women with movement in Indonesia still have they don't think that is important to have digital literacy or improvement on STEM in women because many of the time that we already -- what is it? -- invite them to our discussions, you know, it's never been positive -- what is it? -- positive response on that. So yeah, I think there are still many challenges that we should work on digital gap between women and men in Indonesia.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you so much. I think you actually gave us a really helpful closing for today's session because, indeed, I think we can agree that there is a lot more work that should be done. The digital gap is only widening. It exists in access skills and leadership. So we, indeed, need more research and data, as we concluded, and we need more effective policymaking, and we really need a multi-stakeholder approach because technology alone cannot solve the issue, but also industry cannot either. The mobile industry cannot either by itself, civil society cannot by itself, and government cannot do this by themselves, so really we all need to work together, and I hope today's session inspired you to take action in your local communities and, of course, on the international level. Thanks so much for coming. Thank you.