IGF 2023 WS #408 Unbundling Trust to Accelerate Women’s Digital Inclusion


Digital Divides & Inclusion
Gender Digital Divide

Organizer 1: Astha Kapoor, 🔒
Organizer 2: Suha Maqsood Mohamed, Aapti Institute
Organizer 3: Ava Haidar, Aapti Institute

Speaker 1: Suhel Bidani, Private Sector, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 2: Astha Kapoor, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 3: Doerr Megan, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Suha Maqsood Mohamed, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group

Online Moderator

Ava Haidar, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group


Ava Haidar, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group


Birds of a Feather - 60 Min

Policy Question(s)

- What is the role of ‘trust’ in how women adopt welfare platforms and essential digital services?
- How can digital trust formation be embedded in existing policy interventions that seek to bridge the digital divide and address digital inclusion?
- How can learnings from the private sector and civil society on trust-building be integrated in the formation of public digital infrastructures? Can strategic collaboration between stakeholders generate and maintain women’s digital trust?

What will participants gain from attending this session? The growing global investment on DPIs, further underscored by India’s G20 presidency, and evident in the interest of Singapore and Japan to adopt India’s Unified Payments Interface, transforms questions digital trust and inclusion into a global imperative – one that must be addressed holistically. This session intends to create nuanced dialogue and set of co-created gender-inclusive solutions to build trust by:
i) Expanding the framing of ‘digital trust’, cognizant of human vulnerabilities, technical and non-technical determinants, and experiences of technology, leveraging Aapti Institute’s digital trust framework as a starting point.
ii) Bridging gendered gaps in policy – how can a difficult/abstract concept such as trust be transformed into tangible outcomes, i.e. principles to design inclusive platforms/inform policy approaches
iii) Sharing emerging lessons centred on how to enhance women’s digital trust and inclusion in DPIs from our experience in India; and exploring replicability of these practices through tools, rankings, and scorecards.


Digital public infrastructures (DPIs) and welfare platforms have become central to functioning digital economies; with benefits related to increased convenience, reduced costs of travel and paperwork and possibly more efficient access to services. While DPIs are marked by their inclusion mandate and promise of accessibility, their adoption by women remains low.
As women have less access to digital and physical infrastructure and face more bottlenecks (e.g registration, ownership of a device, physical mobility) – there also may be greater hesitation and low trust in these platforms, impacting their adoption of DPIs. These benefits invert into greater vulnerabilities for people and their rights to welfare, entrenching the digital divide, its subsequent financial and health insecurities and depreciated social freedoms.
Whether exclusion is inadvertent or by social design, there is a need to better understand what drives hesitancy and lack of trust in platforms. This will act as the central focus of this session, which will draw from Aapti Institute’s research on identifying barriers to women’s trust in digital platforms to understand digital trust and what determinants impact its formation and breakdown. Adopting a gender-lens, it also seeks to uncover how trust can be translated into policy vocabulary and what interventions can support bridging ‘digital’ trust – considering both technical and non-technical pathways.
To this end, the session aims to bring together a diverse set of stakeholders invested in building digital platforms and infrastructures that can cater to uniquely gendered needs and experiences around technology and importantly, be “trusted” to deliver value. Contributions from this workshop will build into an emerging body of work that seeks to support policymakers and practitioners in shaping DPIs into zones of higher participation, bargaining and decision-making for women, carving out more equitable digital futures.

Expected Outcomes

Discussions and insights from this session will feed into an emerging Community of Practice (CoP), spearheaded by Aapti that brings together a diverse set of stakeholders that include technologists and platform practitioners, gender and digital rights advocates and policymakers. Post workshop, participants will have the opportunity to actively contribute to the CoP to further build on our emerging ‘digital trust’ framework, highlight case studies and ideate on possible solutions around policymaking, technology/design, and on-ground implementation. Further, inputs of participants on the framework will be leveraged to shape a prototype tool to assess women’s digital trust. Dialogue from the workshop and insights from attendees will be pivotal to refining its components, use-cases, and situational strength.

Hybrid Format: As Aapti’s workshop is focused on core definitional work and unpacking concepts of digital behaviour and gender, the session aims to be as explorative and open as possible. This entails live reconstruction and editing of our digital trust framework as well as its supporting definitions. We will achieve this with the use of digital tools that can be used by participants in the room as well as those joining virtually, ensuring that the outputs of those tools appear on a unified platform for discussion. For example, Mural and Miro, which are interactive drawing boards, may be used to brainstorm and literally draw out the links between digital trust and gender experiences. Menti, a response-collecting visual mechanism, will be used to crowdsource hypotheses around digital trust-making. To deliver an optimal experience to all participants, we will be using digital interfaces as much as possible to encourage shared thinking and creation.