IGF 2019 OF #32 EQUALS Research Open Forum on Gender Digital Equality


This open forum will reflect on the activities of the EQUALS Research Group led by UN University Institute on Computing and Society (UNU-CS). EQUALS is a global partnership co-founded by ITU, UN Women, GSMA, the International Trade Center and UNU to close gender digital gaps. With over 60 partner institutions worlwide, EQUALS consists of three Coalitions on Access, Skills, and Leadership, as well as a crosscutting research group. EQUALS partners will discuss the themes of the Research Group’s March 2019 report (Taking Stock: Data and Evidence on Gender Equality in Digital Access, Skills, and Leadership), share their contributions to generating relevant data and evidence, and discuss evidence-based pathways to gender digital equality.


UN University Institute on Computing and Society (UNU-CS)

  1. Anne Igeltjørn, Global Universal Design Commission Europe

  2. Ruhiya Seward, International Development Research Center

  3. Daniel Kardefelt Winther, UNICEF-Innocenti

  4. Tamara Dancheva, GSMA



GOAL 4: Quality Education
GOAL 5: Gender Equality
GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
GOAL 10: Reduced Inequalities
GOAL 17: Partnerships for the Goals

1. Key Policy Questions and Expectations
  1. How can different stakeholders ensure that new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, blockchain, 5G and other innovations do not replicate existing gender digital inequalities? 
  2. How can we address the socio-cultural issues that translate into gender digital inequality? 
  3. What can be done to help ensure better gender-disaggregated data on digital access, use, skills, and leadership?

Participants will critically examine the root causes of gender digital inequality and imagine the future of technology and its implications for gender equality. Participants should make commitments to advance policy and practical changes that promote gender digital equality within their spheres of influence.

2. Summary of Issues Discussed

There was broad agreement that technology alone cannot solve the digital gender inequality gap and that a multi-stakeholder approach coupled with more evidence driven policy making is needed in order to overcome the barriers to gender inequality in digital access, skills and leadership. Many also indicated that more participation by women as entrepreneurs, inventors and business leaders would help to redress the wider deficit in female leadership and provide much needed role models for girls in education and early careers.There was also an agreement that while mobile connectivity is spreading quickly it is not spreading equally. There was no agreement on how to approach the issue lack of internationally comparable gender-disaggregated data on most ICT indicators especially for developing countries.

3. Policy Recommendations or Suggestions for the Way Forward

We need to be able to influence policy ecosystems as much as possible but in influencing those policy ecosystems, we need leaderships that are receptive. We also need to encourage more data collection on basic gender-disaggregated indicators especially in the digital space. It is also important to include women in the decision-making process.

4. Other Initiatives Addressing the Session Issues

Initiatives in the digital space which were mentioned during the discussions include "Disrupting Harm", the Feminist Internet Research Network, "Harras Map" mobile application and UNICEF's recently launched Global Kids Online Report.

5. Making Progress for Tackled Issues

Progress can only be achived if more women are included in the decision-making process and if gender is an aspect of the design of new technologies from the very beginning.

6. Estimated Participation

There were roughly 30 participants present onsite and 1 participant online. Out of those participants, around 20 were women.

7. Reflection to Gender Issues

The discussion focused solely on gender issues as it aimed to present key findings from the EQUALS Research Group report titled “Taking Stock: Data and Evidence on Gender Equality in Access, Skills and Leadership”. Participants discussed the main barriers to digital inclusion for women such as affordability and lack of basic digital skills. Some of the solutions identified were including ICT skills as part of early educational programmes and ensuring relevant online content.