IGF 2023 WS #29 AI Advances Expand Potential for Gender Equity


Digital Divides & Inclusion
Gender Digital Divide
Skills Building for Basic and Advanced Technologies (Meaningful Access)

Organizer 1: Nan Schechter, USCIB
Organizer 2: Barbara Wanner, 🔒U.S. Council for International Business
Organizer 3: Nicole Primmer, 🔒
Organizer 4: Sonia Jorge, Global Digital Inclusion
Organizer 5: Atsuko Okuda, 🔒
Organizer 6: Nobuhisa NISHIGATA, Ministry of Internal affairs and Communications (MIC-Japan)

Speaker 1: Molly Lesher, Intergovernmental Organization, Intergovernmental Organization
Speaker 2: Sonia Jorge, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Nobuhisa NISHIGATA, Government, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 4: Atsuko Okuda, Intergovernmental Organization, Intergovernmental Organization
Speaker 5: Yoko Oshima, Private Sector, Asia-Pacific Group


Barbara Wanner, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Online Moderator

Nicole Primmer, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Nan Schechter, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Round Table - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

1. How do policymakers ensure that AI is based on unbiased and fully intersectional data?
2. How can policymakers support skill building for a digital labor force? What does skill building mean in a digital society?
3. How do we determine what digital skills are required and what do these skills look like?
4. What are some policies that will help to minimize bias within data?

What will participants gain from attending this session? After attending this session, participants will better understand the vast implications of AI advances on the gender digital divide. As immersive technology continues to push toward the forefront of technological developments, it is increasingly important to understand its impact on already marginalized and often vulnerable groups. Technological advancements have the unique ability to close this gap by providing new opportunities but may also pose significant risks to progress in the form of data and algorithmic biases. Participants will have greater knowledge of this topic and will be informed about the next steps that governments, policymakers, and business may take to ensure that the digital transition results in positive change for women worldwide.


The digital transformation has resulted in far-reaching and long-lasting progress across all sectors. Unfortunately, the opportunities of the digital revolution also present a risk of perpetuating existing patterns of gender inequality and widening economic and social disparities. The UN Women’s Gender Snapshot 2022 reports women’s exclusion from the digital space has shaved $1 trillion from the gross domestic product of low- and middle-income countries in the last decade, which could continue to grow to $1.5 trillion by 2025 without action. An inclusive approach to transformative technologies, digital education, and STEM skill development is crucial for a sustainable future where women will play leading roles in the transformed economy.
This IGF workshop will link two IGF themes, digital inclusion and AI/ emerging technologies, discussing progress in bridging the gender digital divide through digital literacy and STEM skill development programs. It also will highlight the implications of AI in closing the gender gap by opening new skill development opportunities and further involving women in the tech sector by chipping away at some institutional biases. Additionally, the workshop will examine potential risks policymakers should know to ensure that AI deployment does not worsen the gender digital divide. Utilizing artificial intelligence and other immersive technologies is a vital step in the effort to close the digital gender divide and ensure a more digitally equitable world.

Expected Outcomes

Workshop organizers will complement the required IGF Workshop report with a separate, 1-2 page document that will provide recommendations aimed at improving gender equity in the digital economy, in general, and specifically with respect to the development and use of AI. The recommendations will address such policy issues as combatting gender bias in the application of AI, ensuring appropriate skill development for women of all ages to both use and develop AI applications, and fostering public-private partnerships aimed at AI skill development and bridging the gender gap, among other issues. The document, in turn, will be presented to the UN Tech Envoy’s office, the IGF Leadership Panel, UN Women, UNESCO, and the OECD Committee on Employment, Labor, and Social Affairs, Committee on Digital Economy Policy to inform the development of policies to realize gender equity in the digital ecosystem.

Hybrid Format: The on-site and remote moderators will undergo training to ensure they understand how to use Zoom (or other) software to engage with remote participants and communicate with each other. The on-site moderator will pause following each question or engagement among speakers to ask for questions/comments from both in-person and remote participants. The remote moderator will manage interventions by the remote speakers, alerting the on-site moderator of the need to recognize a remote speaker who has asked to be recognized via the “raised hand” function. The remote moderator will watch carefully for “raised hand” questions posed in the chat or Q&A function and alert the on-site moderator or speaker if addressed to a specific speaker.