IGF 2023 WS #569 Measuring digital inequality as evidence base for policy


Digital Divides & Inclusion
Affordable Access
Gender Digital Divide

Organizer 1: Andrew Partridge, Research ICT Africa
Organizer 2: Alison Gillwald, 🔒

Speaker 1: Helani Galpaya, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 2: Alexandre Barbosa, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 3: Torbjörn Fredriksson, Intergovernmental Organization, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 4: Andrew Partridge, Civil Society, African Group


Alison Gillwald, Civil Society, African Group

Online Moderator

Andrew Partridge, Civil Society, African Group


Andrew Partridge, Civil Society, African Group


Panel - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

Although the nature of the presentations and discussion will speak to a wide range of policy question, the following will be drawn out deliberately from the session:
(A) What are the most urgent data gaps restricting the measurement of the evolution of digital inequalities and the identification of the major barriers restricting access and limiting use?
(B) What potential policy solutions would enable more efficient evidence-based policy making with consideration for the intersectional nature of inequalities?
(C) How might data essential for informed policy making be realised as public good at the national level? (for example through a solidarity fund)

What will participants gain from attending this session? Through the presentations the participants will be exposed to findings from the latest nationally representative household surveys on ICT access and use in the Global South, providing new knowledge which can improve not only understanding of the demand-side challenges relating to digital inclusion but also the considerations which need to be considered when working with demand-side indicators in these countries.

Through the panel discussion participants will learn from experts at prominent institutions ITU, UNCTAD and GSMA Connected Women about the potential solutions needed to improve the capacity of the State to create policies which will reduce digital inequalities and contribute to the reduction in broader structural inequalities present in society. The discussion will also provide the space to have proposed solutions critically engaged with in order to improve their effectiveness.


UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, has described digitalisation and climate change as two seismic shifts that will shape the 21st Century. He cautions, however, that both will widen inequalities even further unless urgently addressed on a planetary scale and calls for a renewal of the social contract, anchored in human rights and equality to rebuild trust and social cohesion that people need to see reflected in their daily lives.

The session is grounded in the UN resolution on “the promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the internet”, realising “the importance of access to information and
communications technology for the full enjoyment of human rights” and the subsequent call for urgent interventions to reach more equitable outcomes.

The SDGs acknowledge the importance of digital inclusion and equity in realising not only first generation rights but also second and third generation rights relating to social and economic justice. COVID-19 compounded existing structural inequalities, the most vulnerable being least able to digitally substitute to mitigate the health and economic risks, and highlighted the critical need for an evidence base to inform digital policy.

Drawing on this evidence base from organisations dedicated to filling the major gaps in this evidence base in the Global South, prior to and since the pandemic, the intentions of this session is to provide the first post-pandemic digital indicators and analysis from the Global South, and to facilitate a productive discussion on potential policy solutions.

There will be three presentations using the limited but latest disaggregated data on internet access and use, for Africa, Asia and Latin America. The data presented is the only current nationally representative gender disaggregated data in many regions and provides a valuable evidence base to assess intersectional inequalities. The moderator will then lead a panel and audience discussion potential policy and governance solutions.

Expected Outcomes

The main findings presented on and the key points emanating from the discussion will be collated into a summary report which participants will be invited to engage with and provide suggestions..

The data being presented is being used to advise policies on digital inclusion in the respective regions and hence the feedback and discussion will provide a valuable opportunity to sense check the findings based on the collective expertise across participants and to help develop solutions to propose in light of the findings.

The findings on data gaps will also feed into the provision of global indicators on ICT access and use by the ITU. They will provide the basis to explore mechanisms to finance the collection of digital indicators to more accurately measure digital inequality and will ultimately result in more accurate measurement of ICT progress in the context of sustainable development.

Hybrid Format: The session is designed to have audience participation throughout in order to keep listeners engaged and to create space to hear diverse views across the collective group of participants. There will be a short question time after each of the presentations to allow for questions of clarity and to engage directly with the data being presented.

The session culminates in an extended panel discussion to allow for inputs from key expert panelists and to allow the workshop participants to bring their views and to engage on what is a very pertinent policy issue of digital inequalities.

The online moderator will ensure that online participants are also able to have their voice heard, either verbally or, if necessary, through the monitoring and synthesis of the online chat facility.