The following are the outputs of the captioning taken during an IGF virtual intervention. 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, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.
>> We all live in a digital
We all need it to be open and
we all want to trust.
>> And to be trusted.
>> We all despise control.
>> And desire freedom.
>> We are all united.
>> Hello and welcome. My name is Nnenna. I come from the Internet. And this is not a workshop. It is not a panel. It is a Friday hangout at IGF. If you are watching on YouTube. If you are watching on the IGF platform, if you are on Zoom with us or if you are part of the technical team or the captioner, or if you are sitting in this room with me, this is our session.
We have 55 minutes to hang out and discuss digital inequalities. But today, we want to zero in on the gender digital inequality.
In other words, the digital inequality that concerns men versus women, not only in binary terms.
I will have people who will contribute, but if you are listening to me, I would also love your contribution.
Once again, it is not a panel. It is not a workshop. If you are here, you are part of the team. There are people online, like I said. There are people on Zoom. And there are people in the room.
Our session is in three parts. After you hear my welcome, we would want to hear someone who has worked with a Group of researchers, who will inform us about your research coming from West Africa. Then we will want to hear from people that contributed to that research.
And we will hear from everyone else. Once again, this is not a very big session. It is a Town Hall session. A Town Hall session is the one where mothers come with their children and children are followed by their dogs and cats.
So if you have a cat that wants to say something, they are welcome to this session. I don't know how the captioner will do it. But all cats are welcome, all researchers are welcome, all human beings are welcome. And even if you are not a human being and you can speak, we would like to try that today.
Once again, welcome to this session. I am going to be inviting Anna Maria Rodriguez to this session. Anna, in the next five to seven minutes, can you please enlighten us on what research is saying about gender Digital Divide and what it means to us and what it is costing us as humanity? Thank you and welcome.
>> ANA: Thank you, Nnenna. It is a pleasure to be here today. I will share the latest research from A4AI on the cost of exclusion. Before hearing from the amazing women on the panel about the concrete actions they could take in South Asia and sub‑Saharan Africa to close the digital gender gap, I would like to contextualize the urgency of the matter and tell you about these research that we did in A4AI, what we did is in this amazing and powerful research, we tried to put a number to the digital gender gap and understand what is the cost of excluding women from the Internet and what are the consequences not only for my gender but also for men and nonbinary people of not closing the digital gender gap. It is not only a problem for women, but also for everyone in the economy. It is affecting and making us lose billions of dollars for keeping women offline.
So it is well documented that women are disproportionately excluded from Internet use. Worldwide, 55% of men are connecting ‑‑ using the Internet, whereas only 48% of women are using the Internet. So this is what we know or what we understand as a digital gender gap. And in Regions such as Africa or Asia‑Pacific, the situation is even worse.
So we know that. We know this gap affects around three hundred million women. Three hundred million women are not connecting to the Internet. We know it exists. We know how many women are affected by it. We know this gap is very significant in Regions such as Africa and Asia‑Pacific. But how has it behaved in the past decade? What we found in our analysis is that this digital gender gap hasn't closed in the past decade. It has actually remained almost the same. It has only closed 0.5 percentage points. This is very little. It shows us policymaker and others are not doing enough to close the digital gender gap. We studied 32 low and lower middle‑income countries and this is what we found. As well, every two years we do the drivers index and we have a gender indicator there. Consistently that indicator gets the lowest scores.
And almost half of the countries that we include in that analysis don't have policies that include women and make them connect to the Internet. We know this gap exists and it hasn't changed in the last decade we know we haven't closed it. What is the cost? What is the economic impact for the whole economy?
From our analysis, we found that this gender gap is equivalent to loss in economic production of 1 trillion USD in the past decade.
So over the last 10 years the whole economy to the low and lower middle countries we studied lost a total of 1 trillion USD due to a gender gap because we're not connecting women because they're not able to experience the whole power of the Internet and get all of the social and economic potentials of connecting. We as an economy are losing this amount of money. We have lost this amount of money.
This is the past. We encourage the closing of the gender gap. We acknowledge that there is an economic opportunity for this country and economies if they manage to close it in the next five years, to 2025, they will have the opportunity to get an economic production of half a trillion dollars. We encourage policymakers to act now, start taking steps to close the gender gap and take advantage of the huge economic opportunity that closing the gender gap offers not only to women but men, nonbinary people, and all of us.
So we have been working and advocating for closing this gender gap for many years in the Alliance for Affordable Internet. What we recommend is using this framework that we call react. Five elements, rights, education, access, content, and targets. The rights is that we should recognize the Internet as a human right for men, women and recognize that women have the right to access it, to access devices in an affordable and meaningful connection.
Education, that is the foundation of all of this. If you don't have the right digital skills or literacy, you won't be able to participate in the digital economy. So we encourage Governments to work on this aspect. It should not only be the ICT sector that should work on these. It should be an effort of many sectors, including the education sector, including the subjects in the curriculum. And also working with women so they can be more involved in the digital economy. When it comes to access, we encourage as well policymakers to include in their policies aspects of affordable Internet. Many times, offer free access and give them the right devices for them to connect.
When it comes to content, we have been hearing many sessions around how to make the Internet multilingual. How to make it relevant for everyone and not only ‑‑ it is an Internet that is many times designed by men. We want women to be included in the design and also to find the right content for them. To participate.
And lastly, we encourage to have the right targets, targets that are easy to measure, easy to follow up. Transparent. And to collect data as well. Because there is a lot of missing data that we don't have. And we don't have the right instruments to understand how is the situation in low and lower middle‑income countries.
From our research, we have had the opportunity to talk, and we will hear more from the amazing women that are here today sharing this panel with me. We have experiences in India and Nigeria and we have found women can do amazing things when they connect. They are able to impact not only their economic and social well‑being, but also their children, social well‑being and their whole communities. Thank you very much.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you. What exactly is one trillion? That is a thousand billion. Is that correct? That is a lot of money that we have lost in the past decade.
All right. Thank you very much, Anna.
What we want to do now is to hear from the wonderful ladies who have supported the research, who are women in ICT themselves. And enlighten us the most.
So ladies I would like to welcome you. But not to talk to us about a report. We are going to read the report. I am hoping that A4AI will tweet the link for this report, so even if we are not in this room, we can get access and read it more.
But please, note that 1 trillion is the money we lost. We know that amount.
Now, what I would like to ask you, beginning from Audrey and then another in Lagos. And Nila who is in Bangladesh and one other lady who will come in, Amrita. So the three ladies, we would like you to share with us how are you living with this kind of challenges on a daily basis? One challenge. One way the women are dealing with this gender digital divide on a daily basis in your home country, in your home city. And what one thing should we be doing in policy to make a change? The question once again is, how are women and girls overcoming this divide? What are they doing? How are they doing it? With whom are they doing it? And what social and policy interventions can help reduce the digital gender gap?
I know that in your study, you have spoken to a lot of those women. You have spoken to communities. You have held Focus Groups, you have gone around your countries, you have heard a lot of stories. So we're not able to listen to all your stories, but we'll give you three minutes each to enlighten us on one story that you know, on the how. And one other on what we should do next. Audrey, welcome.
Can we unmute Audrey?
>> Audrey Ehouman: Thank you, Nnenna. From my experience as a researcher in my area, I can say the main problem that the women and girl face about the digital gap, the level of education, the wage gap, and also I can say the lack of cost of device.
Some women and girl, the Internet is not affordable for her because they don't get ‑‑ they don't get a lot of money. So they can't pay for Internet. So this is one of the barriers. And many women are concerned about privacy and online security. And last year, for example, when we went to the SCT of the Cote d'Ivoire. One lady said we don't have the right to aspect to Internet because their husband don't want them to have access to Internet.
>> MODERATOR: I'm sorry. Can you repeat that? The lady did not have the right because the husband did what?
>> ATTENDEE: Husband said they don't have right to access Internet. Many times they don't have money to pay. Usually it is a man who pay for Internet. It is the man who pay for everything so if your husband said you don't have the right to access Internet, you cannot have the right because you don't have money to pay it.
So it is one of the barriers. But I will focus on one point, the level of education. I see that women are not afraid to use Internet. Because they use Internet to develop their business. Whatever you can see in literature and the sector in general, they try to create online activities, even if someone else can help them. If they don't learn how to write or learn how to read, they can use voicing technology to talk with their customers. So if they are independent, they can use Internet to develop their business and make money. And some lesson I learn from last year to now, I think if you come from Cote d'Ivoire, you come from Burkina Faso. I think it is the same lesson we can put to close the digital gender gap.
I can say, for example, the Government can improve the service for woman online. When I was in the small town, in Cote d'Ivoire, the lady said, we would love to maybe access with Internet, we can buy something. We can have an existent with the Internet. We can ‑‑ how to say that? We can order food. We can order anything else with Internet.
Two years ago, we need to travel two hours or one hour to go in the smart city to access to the bank. For example, with mobile money, with digital bank online, we can access to our money and buy anything we want in a minute. So we don't need to take a lot of time and ...
>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Audrey. Amrita has arrived. But before Amrita, we want to listen to Temitope Ogundipe. Please unmute her.
>> TEMITOPE: Can you hear me? I will keep my camera off because of spotty connection.
>> MODERATOR: Right.
>> TEMITOPE: Thank you. The experience in Nigeria with this research was quite interesting. What we are finding is that the digital gender gap continues to in my experience, deepening and widening especially in rural communities.
We initially thought the interviews were going to be virtual and the focus Groups as well. We found it would not be possible to certain categories of people that are living in rural areas without electricity to charge devices, without access and connectivity. So we had to have some of the focus Groups face‑to‑face to be able to speak to the women.
What we also found that is interesting from Group to Group is that the reasons or the motivation for connecting to the Internet possibly vary for different demographics of women, depending on where they're living and what their priorities are.
For instance, we thought that in Nigeria the younger women might be more interested in the Internet generally, for socioeconomic opportunities, for education, for business. We found that younger women are possibly more interested in accessing the Internet for communication and social networking and issues around agency, much more. The older women who we found with less digital skills, who are less confident about the use of the Internet, they really wanted to learn for business and socioeconomic opportunities, that's what we're finding.
And this also ‑‑ we also found that this was ‑‑ this was also different from one geographical location to another.
The more we moved up north, the more we found that people were more interested in the Internet for what I would call agency.
For instance, what Audrey was talking about. People want to be able to own devices, you know, just to start with, to be able to have access to data. You know, with their own phones, which was often discussed. You know, but in the south, more people had devices. Even if we found out the devices were not smart devices, they had devices, connections to one degree or another.
>> MODERATOR: One second. One second. There is a north‑south divide. Does it follow the rural and urban divide? Which side is usual and which is urban?
>> We spoke in the north and south in urban and rural communities. In the west we spoke to people in urban and rural. In the north we spoke to younger women only. In the south and southwest, we spoke to women from about 18 to 60 years, the whole range. So ‑‑ but in the north, like I said, it was more like women looking for agency, women looking to connect in the first instance. They wanted access to their own devices and wanted to have agency. They didn't want to share devices. And they were very interested in communication and social networking. In the southeast and southwest, people were looking for more meaningful devices. They had devices, had Internet and connection, but they wanted skills, opportunity, and to be able to find information that was relevant to them, to their context. To civic engagement, to political participation. And to business. And job opportunities. So that's what we were finding.
We also found that the pandemic encouraged a lot of people to explore online opportunities. But the barriers that we're finding were related to cost, exorbitant cost of data. It was related to trust, you know, the environment in Nigeria is such that the trust in the online space is very low. People are afraid of being scammed. Cyber fraud is very popular.
As much as people are moving online, they're also inhibited in terms of business participation and what they're doing online because of trust. And another big problem.
>> MODERATOR: Let's circle in on the trust issue. What policy and social measures can you recommend in dealing with the trust, that would be helpful.
>> TOMITOPE: In terms of the online and trust in Nigeria, what is important is for policies around cybersecurity to focus on consumer protections and also confidence in the online marketplace. Because we find that there is ‑‑ that there is not enough collaboration, I think, between stakeholders in the space for prevention of online fraud. And I do think that this is something that sets back significantly the digital economy.
So I think that one of the policies that can work in that area is for public and private partnerships to address issues of confidence in the online space. And stronger protection for consumers, so I think that is one thing that can be done in that space.
The second thing that I think may also help is still on the issue of education and digital skills. Because even when there are people who are new to the Internet space often do not have enough knowledge and confidence to make the choices that will protect them in the online space.
So people are buying and selling and using applications but their choices in terms of data protection or who has access to their personal information. They're not making good choices. They're not using all the other controls that are at their disposals. Their privacy practice or online practices are not good enough, again, because the skills are not there. I think it is skills training. It is beyond this is the Internet and this is how to use it, it should include skills to build confidence in how people protect their data and personal information in the online space.
>> MODERATOR: Right. You have been very helpful to us, Temitope. It is an applause. If you could see it. Mary is here. She's nodding in agreement. I will move to Nila Achia. Moving from Africa to Asia. Buckle up, there may be turbulence along the way. We're heading to Asia. Nila Achia is in Bangladesh, what have you seen and what do you want to tell us? Can we unmute Nila Achia?
>> You can call me Nila. I found that access is a problem. Access to digital financial support also is a problem. Like financial transaction. And also cybersecurity is a big problem in here in Bangladesh for the women online.
There is a lot of problems, the thing is people are not getting the proper education and in Bangladesh, every man ‑‑ every family actually lead by man and man own the computer or own an electric device or any smartphone.
So if women want to use that, they need to get permission from the man. That is the problem.
Another thing is the broadband connectivity is not very reliable. So they need to buy the mobile data. That is also a problem for the women because they depend on their husband, father, or brother. So they ask for money to buy the mobile data. That is expensive. So access to Internet also very much problem for them. And in pandemic time, one thing we discover, there are lots of women in the online business, but that is only social media business. We didn't engage in the digital monetary. They're taking from the personal connection and provide the service.
But after that, when they deliver the product, they take the system like cash on delivery.
So there is nothing in digital. So there is a trust issue. Still there is a gap. The main thing I discovered, the thing is there is a huge skill gap. So people don't know how can I use my skill in Internet or how can I access the Internet? If I use the Internet, what type of problem I would face and what type of support I will get from Internet use. So that is in the online space because all Asia women, depends on their family, like the man. That is a problem.
And we are talk with the businesswomen, especially those running the tech business and e‑commerce business. They gave us one thought, if you can just add a woman-friendly policy. Because all over the world, everyone, every women facing this problem.
Not just in the developing country, facing this only. That is not true. All of the women are experiencing the same problem. So thinking they are not good in the technical area. If you can see this, writing a paper, we need actually strong policy for the women.
And smart policy for how they can access that ‑‑ easily access the Internet, actually. And the pricing issues.
>> MODERATOR: One second. Let's zero in on the financial and entrepreneur digital capacity of the women.
We want to understand when you are talking about policies that help women do better in business, can you enlighten us? We know about the husband issue. We know about the finance issue. Is it technical skills? Is it security? In what policy are we adopting that will help women? That would be helpful to us as we capture the notes here at IGF.
>> Nila Achia: One thing we discover about the skill gap, the girls, they want to learn the technical things. But there is a problem. So they're not able to access the schools where we teach the technical knowledge.
Another thing is they are not getting support from the family. I'm talking about families because there is a mind‑set. The parents think girls are not good in this, then there are other education. There is a problem. There is loss of technology in the technical technology, and there is skill gap. They can't access that.
We talk with the young generation, especially 19 to 24 or 25. They gave us more insight about the cybersecurity. So some girls, they are in the cyber world, but don't know how to use it. Again, skill gap.
So mostly the thing is we can discover there is a huge skill gap. We need to work on that. And also the thing is like, in ‑‑ we're trying to introduce a new thing in the industry. And we need to give them the proper education about that.
Like how they use the Internet. Regarding the cyber issues. And how they use their business and also how they're working online, the problem they will face. So everybody highlight these issues to me.
>> MODERATOR: Right. Thank you so much, Nila.
There is a member of Parliament in this room. I hope you are listening to us from Tanzania. You have to speak to us now. The only Government person we have here, we will hold her ransom until we hear from her. Ha‑ha. Amrita, you are welcome.
Amrita, we have seen the skills challenge. We have seen the husband challenge. We have seen the family challenge. We have seen the infrastructure and the business opportunity challenge. We have even seen the women not able to do well. We want to hear from you.
By the way, where are you? What have you seen? Please hop on. We want to hear from you, Amrita.
>> Amrita Choudhury: Apologies for being late. I'm in India. I'm close to Nila Achia. Whatever the report says and mentions, I would say plus one to all. I would like to suggest something. When we were looking at this entire story, if someone had been looking at this issue two years back, the story would have been different, and the story today is very different.
When we spoke to ‑‑ we looked at two cities, primarily because of the pandemic. Two places, I would say. We looked at people between different age Groups, women 18 to 27 and 27 and above. And socioeconomic Group. Those that earn a particular amount and less.
What we found is that due to the pandemic, everyone has been pushed online. They are pushed, you know because there was a lockdown, people had to use mobile money. Children had to study online. So they were pushed into the digital environment, whether they liked it or not. Even if it was a very poor person, you know, a small tailor's wife. It was done. If there is a shared device. The husband gets first, the children have second priority for education and women is third. If the woman needed the mobile to shop for vegetables, she needed to make the payment. That is how they were pushed into it.
I would say while there is a digital gender gap, it is evident. But due to the pandemic they are pushed into it. Whether they can access everything they want, that is a different thing. Whether they get meaningful access. They have been pushed into the digital world. They understand that digital economy or transacting online or doing things online has become a way of life.
Now, what we found is, you know, you were asking the question some time back as to what do women need to do business online? They understand, many of them whom we spoke to understand the power of being able to sell online, even from social media companies because it is easy. You know, having a store in Facebook or even, you know ‑‑ we found many of them who are doing all this.
What we found and one of the particular person whom we spoke to is that the Groups, you know, there are various social Groups, even from Government or even semiprivate or private, who actually help them get the skills or help them to get the higher skills.
There was a lady running a flower business, a florist. When she went online to do transactions, et cetera, she wanted to grow her business more. There was an entity who actually had try her own organization which she associated to help her increase her market.
What happens is they realize when they go online. When they start transacting online, it helps to, you know, get them network. Reach out to greater, more diverse places get more opportunities. And become more resourceful.
We also found that while women are using Internet or using the services on the Internet, it is not Internet per se, it could be social media, but other activities. They would want it in their own local language. Today, most of the services, when they start, it may be in a local language, but when it comes to the payment part. It is in English. So that is where the challenge comes.
The end‑to‑end, if it is available in a local language, it becomes easier for them to understand. You know, actually do.
The other thing which we found across all the discussions, and across all the kind of people strata, socioeconomic and cities. Women are concerned to place their own opinion online because it may not be recognized. The trust deficit on the Internet is extremely high. So that is where perhaps there needs to be some work.
We found that there are Government opportunities to help women entrepreneurs. There is a focus on it.
But it needs to be the information of those opportunities need to go to all people.
Those who get it are able to avail it. And take opportunity of it. But those who ‑‑ it has to ‑‑ I would say permeate and spread more. Because there are facilities that are given. I think that is something that needs to be done. In terms of policy, while we have a lot of policies, I think the implementation of policies is important. Enforcement of the policies is important. And I think it is more to do with capacity building, reaching, you know, Governments may say okay, we want to help women entrepreneurs, we want to make them empowered, youth empowered, et cetera.
>> MODERATOR: Empower the woman but have an empowering environment as well, is that correct?
>> Amrita Choudhury: Yes, there has to be an empowering environment. Are there checks and balances to make sure it is empowering. The Government may have a lot of vision but is it going in the right direction is something that is important.
>> MODERATOR: Right, I will come to the honorable Lena. Finally, Tanzania has a female President, and heavens did not breakdown in Africa. You need to remain ‑‑ does she need to remain there for the camera? Okay. So, Nima. You can move around up to the front. Yes, you are on your way to presidency. So you're from Tanzania. Tanzania is a wonderful country in Africa, if you will recall.
There was the President and the Vice President who is a lady. And the President traveled beyond the digital world and the Vice President stepped in. And was ‑‑ is effectively the President of this African country. And she's a Muslim woman. She's doing great. And nothing bad has happened in Tanzania. That shows that women who have agency can go all the way.
But then, Nima, we already know that Tanzania has a female President, but then you hold podcast and active on Twitter since you have been here. Your voice has been heard. My question, you listened to the women, the husband, skills agency, educating women, creating conducive environments. My question to you is how can we have more Nimas in Tanzania. And beyond Tanzania to India, Bangladesh, Cote d'Ivoire, and more, as you have been listening. What can we do? And what can you as an MP raise our voices? How can we raise our voices to the level that they should be heard?
>> NIMA: Like you said, we went through a patch where our sitting President passed away. We had the sense that there is a shift of power and we have a female President, Her Excellency. And who fortunately is connected to the ICT sector and has a huge ambition of developing sense of Excellency in ICT, et cetera.
When it comes to this topic, I think the biggest challenges there are is oftentimes, digital development initiatives take place in the urban areas or commercial cities.
In most of our developing countries. At least I know in Tanzania. They will happen in the big cities. Leaving aside the rural areas. So that is one of the main things we need to focus on is bridge the gaps in the rural. To do that you need the rural connectivity. I was pleased in the earlier session, we linked connectivity to electricity. Most of the time we forget that in order to be online, you need electricity.
So when we talk about the rural connectivity, we try to get more people connected to electricity and people will also be online.
But then there is the other issue of economic. What is the price of the data for people to be able to afford? What is the price of buying the smartphone? All of these hinder the participation. Then there is an issue that everybody else has spoken about, digital literacy, digital skills. I think to do all of that, we also need to bridge the gap. The digital literacy skills gap of policymaker.
>> MODERATOR: Merci beaucoup.
>> NIMA: I think in all of this we forget the researchers. We could have kind plans and findings, but when it comes to the implementing or the requirement of bringing the policy reforms, you need the policymakers to have an understanding.
Perhaps my call to action can be how can we get more policymakers on board? And I've already seen, I myself as a parliamentarian from Africa, I kind of have a responsibility. I think all of you would be able to support me on this course to try and get more African parliamentarians on board this agenda. And to do that, so I'm hoping to be able perhaps through the partnerships with all of you, to identify some potential parliamentarians from different African countries who can ‑‑ so we can create our own network and be capacitated, such that we're then able to take what's being discussed and translate it in our own countries and make that enabling environment. Because in the end of the day, all of this needs policy. That is the biggest gap I see policymakers.
>> MODERATOR: There is a reason we call our MPs honorable. Honorable, thank you very much.
Thank you so much. I do hope the organizer of this panel, the Alliance for Affordable Internet will take these into consideration. And put them down so that we actually have a network of parliamentarians that other working on these and especially the gender digital gap.
I'm going to pick on another lady. On a personal note because we have not gone to South America. So buckle up. We will fly from Asia, we will land somewhere in South America and Europe. Maria, yes, can you pick up the mic and let us know what you think? Come on up! Yes. Come on up. She's from the country of.
>> MODERATOR: There was a lady President there, who signed into law a famous Dilma Rousseff. She's from a country that's a pioneer in digital rights with a woman President. We're having a great session out here. Maria, what's up?
>> I want to say it is the first time I address a woman. I'm usually part of the token woman on a panel. This is incredibly fantastic. Thank you so much.
Well, I have to echo the initial study that was made. You know, on the losses that Digital Divide, the gender Digital Divide have created. And to add $17 trillion to that loss. We just ‑‑ I'm from UNESCO. We just concluded a study with UNESCO, UNICEF, and the World Bank on the losses of future earnings from the generation that was excluded from education. You know, because of the closures.
And it's $17 trillion. Majority of which is exclusion for girls and young women, simply because they could not a recollection online learning. There was not sufficient connectivity. There was not sufficient skills and capacities on the parts of teachers, schools, education environments to offer them.
You know, meaningful education, so they can continue their learning process.
So $17 trillion. Think about this amount of money. That is 17 million, thousand billion dollars, in a generation. That's a lot of money. Out of this money, can you think of how much investment ‑‑ how much smaller the investment to connect everyone meaningful would have been to avoid this tremendous loss? This is unacceptable. We're throwing money out the window instead of putting it in the right place. That is a terrible thing.
I want to mention the work we do on journalism and protecting women journalist. Safety online is something mentioned by all the other speakers. I want to mention that when we surveyed women journalists, 73% of them told us that they suffer harassment and abuse online. And 20% of them actually said that the harassment and abuse online translates into real world abuse and harassment and threat.
You know, it is a terrible thing that women cannot exercise their profession online without being victims of this kind of cybercrime. You know, which is essentially, you know, how it should be treated.
Just to conclude on the question that you mentioned. That you asked about that some of us here were talking about in policymaking.
The first thing we should be doing is looking at ICT policy to see if it really is including gender issues in the policymaking and if not, of course, building capacities of policymakers to think in terms of the divides and gaps and where they are and what we need to do, specifically to address the gaps that exist.
So I mean, this is a fantastic discussion. Thank you for inviting me.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Rochelle is our captioner and we want to say thank you for the work you have been doing. I see you. You have captioned in English and in French. Thank you very much. Someone here came in quietly and thinks that I didn't see her. She organizes the women IGF in her country. Been an MAG member, a Chair of the Africa MAG.
Mary, what have you heard. You have been along with women. You have been there from day zero. What can we do? What do you have to tell us? Come up here.
>> Okay. All right.
>> MODERATOR: You are fit to be a President at this time. You have done enough.
>> Thank you very much for the opportunity. I just want to say that ‑‑ I want to echo all that you have said here. And I want to paint a picture.
We went to do ‑‑ we organized a subnational IGF in one of the cities in Nigeria. In the north.
>> MODERATOR: Interesting.
>> So when we went for that subnational IGF, the women had to paint a very ugly picture for me to see I'm not helping. Why they are still not there. A woman posted her picture on Facebook. And she was divorced. Because ‑‑
>> MODERATOR: Hang on! Someone was divorced because she published her photo on Facebook?
>> That's it.
>> MODERATOR: And the husband is still free and moving around.
>> Oh, the husband is free and moving around! Why not? That is one.
The second thing is some women don't even want to hear "Internet" because it is bad, it is devilish, it is anticulture, because of our culture. They don't want their children to even touch the Internet. One woman told me, Madam, we don't like the Internet, it is bad. It brings lot of bad behaviors to our children. Our children learn the wrong things from the Internet.
So what am I saying? Empowerment of the women by educating them rightly in their own language would be very, very important.
The second thing is that there are some women that even if you teach them, they don't want. And they don't want to be part of your teaching or skill building or anything.
There are some that are, you know, catching up and learning like we had the report from Nigeria. There are some of them in some areas, you can see them, how do you reach them. They are in purdah.
>> MODERATOR: What is that?
>> Purdah, they are not to be seen. It is only the husband that will be seen. If you get to the family, you don't see them, they cover their faces. It took another woman who is in purdah to get to them. An enlightened person. That is how they build a trust.
It has ‑‑ Hakim, his wife, you know Hakim. They took her. They had trust in her to come in and speak to the women, talk to them about Internet. So we can also look at the influence. The influencer will influence some of the things we want to do.
>> MODERATOR: Social and culture influencers that can reach to the women.
>> MODERATOR: That is a very important point. We have five minutes remaining.
>> Mary: Thank you very much.
>> MODERATOR: Thank you for what you are doing with the women. We have the Executive Director of the Internet. We have five more minutes. We are not calling on you as a woman. We have had enough women here. We are calling on you as the ED for Alliance for Affordable Internet. You convened us here. Before that I would like to say Amrita, thank you in India, Audrey thank you in Abidjan. And thank you in Nigeria Temitope and Nila thank you in Bangladesh. And I live in the same city with Audrey. It is Abidjan in Cote d'Ivoire. We speak French in that country. If you can see, Audrey is one of the exceptional women because she can express herself in English.
It is not all of our women that can express themselves in the number one language of the world, as people have said.
The language factor is something. The cultural factor is something. We have talked about the husband factor. Some people who live in places think these things are very light. If a woman is in purdah and only the man can speak for her, if the woman is financially enslaved and can only have access to that with which the man says she can have access to. So her access level becomes subsidiary to the desires of her husband.
And access or not becomes a measure of sovereignty of the husband. So while we're talking about national digital sovereignty, please add husband digital sovereignty. I don't know if that exists. But to you people doing research will note that.
Earlier on we spoke to someone in this room who doesn't want to pick up the mic, but who is a student, who was a student in Warsaw, but now in Katowice is starting online. This happens everywhere. Women's lives are affected by connectivity. So while we express our thoughts in this Town Hall meeting, we also hope for better ways to make women comfortable, secure, and meaningfully connected. Because we cannot be losing money as a global economy because our women are either not connected or not meaningfully connected or are not safe and secure when they get online. Or that our lawmakers do not understand the need to take care of the problems.
It is hopeful that this Town Hall session will help us advance in our thinking. And when you see someone that says that a woman cannot, please say I met a woman MP doing things. I met a woman doing one or two things. And please give them the names of the women that do wonderful things.
So we are going to hand over to the ED of Alliance for Affordable Internet. Please, come and give us your blessing any how you want it. Thank you, Sonya.
>> Sonya: Thank you, Nnenna. You are very, very kind. You don't need my blessing. What I want to say is that this discussion is just a really wonderful representation of not just the incredible diversity of views, but at the same time the similarity of challenges that women face across the world. There were so many identical concerns that were raised by Amrita, by Audrey, by Nila and all of you in the room.
I think what unites us here ‑‑ I guess that is also the theme of IGF this year. But what unites us here is really our commitment to change. And our commitment to not just gender equality in general. But digital equality. So I want to say, also, I am so proud of our team. I'm so proud of ana's presentation and the work she says done and that she shared with us. Carmen, Nnenna, you, all of our friends and partners here. Including Mary, Nima and Marcella and more. We're here because we care. There is more work to be done. But we are not tired. We just think we are tired.
We will continue to work hard. To fight the fight. And continue to really do work that we hope will change the world.
I think that is really important. I just want to say from a positive note from me today, it is yet another moment of inspiration, but also such pride for not just working with all of you amazing people that are fighting the fight that needs to be fought in the world, but also the fact that we are not going to give up. And next year, we will be here and throughout the year we will work together to change this picture. So the next time when Anna presents again, another of her amazing research projects she will be leaving with us, we'll have more progress than the 1.6 that you mention in your presentation. So let's hope for that.
A lot of work to be done. Thank you all for being here. Thank you to those online. Also engage with our team. Reach out. If you are doing work that is relevant for this area, let's bring it all together and support each other. So thank you, thank you, thank you. Nnenna, you are a star. You are wonderful in bringing us all together. This is a true Town Hall.
>> MODERATOR: Muchas gracias senora. Thank you, Rochelle. Thank you to our technical team, to everyone. 16 days of activism is winding down, we may be around the world, keep it up there, there is digital equality, there is gender equality, there is digital gender equality. My name is Nnenna, I come from the Internet. I wish you a great weekend! Cheers!