IGF 2023 WS #490 Creating pathways to improve gender inclusion in digital IDs


Digital Divides & Inclusion
Gender Digital Divide

Organizer 1: Swarathmika Kumar, MOSIP
Organizer 2: Kunal Barua, 🔒Aapti Institute
Organizer 3: Mousmi Panda, Aapti

Speaker 1: Swarathmika Kumar, Private Sector, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 2: Kunal Barua, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 3: Anita Sarma, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 4: Liv Marte Nordhaug, Government, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Kunal Barua, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group

Online Moderator

Narayan Vinay, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group


Mousmi Panda, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group


Panel - 60 Min

Policy Question(s)

A. How can robust ID systems strengthen interaction with government systems? How can an inclusive digital system strengthen civic governance and participation?
B. What are some key considerations policy makers should keep in mind when working collectively with digital systems to improve gender inclusion and citizen safety? Are there any inclusion gaps that policy could help fill?

What will participants gain from attending this session? The perspectives and concepts brought forth by technologists, civil society actors, academia, and philanthropists in this panel would create a space for participants to understand the various lenses needed to address such challenges. This session aims to articulate the goals put forth when pursuing gender inclusion, consolidate existing efforts and highlight commonalities to benefit actors within the ID ecosystem. By assembling panellists who interact with the ID system in various ways, participants can gain a more nuanced understanding of complex systems like digital IDs and the ongoing efforts to include women. The session also aims to engage and learn from diverse participants on how to work collaboratively to improve larger societal outcomes. Participants will also be informed about vital frameworks, like GenderMag and A2U that help incorporate gender inclusivity in systems design.



Digital IDs aim to play a pivotal role in facilitating citizens access to essential services. While acknowledging the intent behind including marginalised groups is a crucial first step, identifying and developing possible solutions to these challenges can’t be done in silos. A poorly implemented ID system often results in a variety of user harms or civic rights implications. Ecosystem factors like policy, technology, and infrastructure (digital and physical) are often built separately to overcome socio-normative constraints, access related issues, and protection of people's data.

Co-creating enabling policies, people centric system design, and robust offline architectures are essential to combat exclusion. Panellists’ insights and learnings from participants could mould robust strategies for key ID stakeholders and strengthen pathways for gender inclusive practices.

The session aims to elucidate the efforts of diverse stakeholders and address two key questions:
a) What ecosystem factors need to be addressed to include women in their communities and develop systems to bolster equity? How can these practices be implemented when designing a robust digital ID system?
b) What are the needs and benefits for user-centred design of such ID systems? Do digital ID systems possess the ability to include women in their digital and physical communities?

While strategies to include women in their digital and physical communities are developed with good intent, nuances of marginalised users, especially women, require a more collaborative effort behind them. This session proposes to develop a common understanding around identity systems and the challenges that women might face when interacting with such systems. The session will also highlight frameworks like the GenderMag and A2U that analyse online and offline interfaces and suggest practices that attempt to make systems more gender inclusive. This session will also invite participants to join a learning community to continue efforts in the space.

Expected Outcomes

This session aims to be a starting point for diverse stakeholders to develop a common understanding and participate in a broader community that informs better design principles and policy making when addressing gender inclusion. An ongoing initiative, this ‘Community of Practice’ (COP) hopes to convene key organisations and actors that work to improve societal outcomes, and inform transformative systems through communication channels, accessible repositories, and improved research and implementation loops. Anchored by Aapti Institute, participants will be invited to this COP to share learnings and document actionable strategies in mutually identified areas. These learnings will then be disseminated across ecosystem actors to inform better systems design and civic support through strategic outputs and research. By creating this continuous loop, relevant stakeholders will also be able to provide ongoing inputs to course-correct strategies and gauge efforts of key stakeholders to play a more pivotal role in improving population scale systems.

Hybrid Format: This session hopes to use easy to access and view presentation tools to highlight key insights and frameworks. In addition to a question and answer session, the session will also use a mentimeter poll - which is an easily accessible digital tool, to receive inputs that will be visualised and addressed in real time. Inputs on the presented frameworks, suggestions on possible intersectional points, gauging interest to join the COP initiatives will be facilitated through this tool.