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IGF 2017 - Day 1 - Room XXVI - WS49 Digital Inclusion for Women: Scaling Up Our Efforts

 

The following are the outputs of the real-time captioning taken during the Twelfth Annual Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Geneva, Switzerland, from 17 to 21 December 2017. 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 to understanding the proceedings at the event, but should not be treated as an authoritative record. 

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>> HELEN CROXSON: Good morning.  Apologies for the slight delay.  The session before us ran over slightly.  Thank you very much for joining us this morning for our session, Digital inclusion for women:  Scaling up our efforts.  I am Helen Croxson.  Just to say that first today, how we can tackle gender divide in mobile Internet access and usage.  So we are going to start by discussing problems and the problem that exists, the fact that more men than women in every region access the Internet.  Then we are going to talk about how this issue is being tackled at the moment, and we are going to move on to discussing actually how moving forward what should we be focusing on, what should we think about? 

And I am sure you are all very, very aware that ensuring digital inclusion for all is incredibly important on a macro level, and the Internet has become increasingly important in driving economic growth and development.  Internet use is rapidly rising.  It opens access to information, services, opportunities, and greater contact with global markets. 

On a microlevel, on an individual level, on a personal level, it is so important for social and economic development.  It's democratizing access to information, it expands people's personal development, and it opens opportunities such as health information, financial services, employment opportunities, often for the first time to many, many people.  So it helps social and political power from an individual level.  It's crucial that we push for digital inclusion. 

And a doctrine and use of the Internet is very, very linked to mobile because for many people this is their first and only way to access the Internet is through their mobile devices. 

I think while we are here today is there are a lot of regional differences in regional uptake.  Within markets you've got a lot of inequalities and differences in uptake, whether it be between urban and rural or different segments of society, particularly women.  Women are not the minority, half the population.  It's critically important to ensure that we grow Internet access to women for the role they play in society, for their potential contribution to the economy, that we ensure that we have female digital inclusion. 

So at this point, I am going to ask the panel to introduce themselves.  We are very, very lucky to have some great panelists here with a wealth of information from a variety of sectors.  So I am going to start with Rachel, then we will move on. 

>> RACHEL SAMREN: Thanks.  Thank you, Helen. 

I am the chief external affairs officer from Millicom, perhaps better known by the brand name of TIGO.  We are a mobile media company operated in Africa and Latin America, but we are solely emerging markets focused, so slightly different than most other operators.  We are also a significant player in mobile financial services or mobile money as it's also referred to.  So very, very focused both on digital and financial inclusion. 

I personally, like Helen, of course, very, very enthusiastic and very focused on our female customers, our female employees.  As she said, it's half of the population, it's half of our talent pool.  It's half of our consumers.  So as important, if not more important, than our male consumers.  Actually, women make most of the household spending decisions, some women spend a lot of time on, and of course, incredibly important in our market in particular where I believe in Sub-Saharan Africa, it's about 67%, in Latin America and the Caribbean, 46% of women are still unconnected completely.  They are not accessing the Internet.  It's something we spend a lot of time on. 

>> CHAT GARCIA RAMILO: Hi.  Good morning.  My name is Chat Garcia Ramilo from the Association for Progressive Communication.  I am the Executive Director of the network.  We are an international global network.  We have members in about 35 countries, 58 organizations.  Our members work on many different issues, including access, including human rights and development, and one of the key areas that we work in is around gender quality as well as women's rights.  In all of the work that we do, we make sure we do have that analysis and that we include that in everything that our members and also in all of our work. 

So hopefully to contribute here around focusing on access, and also some ideas around how we can move that forward in relation to much more local access that ensures that the most marginalized really are addressed. 

>> NANJIRA SAMBULI: Good morning.  My name is Nanjira Sambuli with the World Wide Web Foundation, which is an organization set up to advance the mission that the Web be for everyone.  I coordinate our work on addressing advocacy for women's rights online, an advocacy effort that has been looking at what specifically are the gender gaps in accessing the Internet and taking those recommendations, working at a local, regional, and global level with all actors to close them. 

>> DOREEN BOGDAN-MARTIN: Good morning, everyone.  My name is Doreen Bogdan-Martin, and I am the chief of strategy at the International Telecommunications Union, the ITU, which is headquartered just across the street.  ITU, as many of you may know, is the oldest organization in the UN system, dates back to 1865, and its mission is all around connectivity, so I can making sure that all of the world's people -- men, women, boys, and girls -- have opportunities to be connected and to be able to experience the benefits of connectivity. 

Our work spans from development standards to radiocommunications, and for us, when we look at the 2030 UN Agenda, it's about not only leaving no one behind, but making sure that we leave no one offline.  So very happy to be here amongst this distinguished group of panelists, and maybe for those colleagues that are following remotely, we do have an all-female panel, but what's great is that in the audience we actually have I think almost a gender-balanced audience, which I think is also really great.  So thank you, and I look forward to the discussion. 

>> ANNA FALTH: Good morning.  My name is Anna Falth from UN Women.  I am leading work on private sector engagement, economic empowerment, and specifically in this area with STEM and technology.  And contrary to ITU, UN Women is the newest organization in the system.  (Laughter).  Shockingly, because we are 60% of the population, so we are focusing on a number of areas, economic empowerment being one of them, with STEM and ICT as a great focus.  But we also work on ending violence against women, women peace and security, and women in political (?), humanitarian action, and many other things. 

I am also very happy to be here and to be with this distinguished panel.  Thank you. 

>> HELEN CROXSON: Thank you.  Thank you, everyone, for introducing yourselves. 

The way the session is going to go today, we are going to have a discussion on the panel for about half an hour, and then we are going to open up for questions the audience as well, so please think of things you would like to ask this wonderful selection of people we have here to talk about this issue. 

So I am going to start off.  Doreen, when it comes to Internet access and usage, what do we know about who is being left behind at the moment and by how much? 

>> DOREEN BOGDAN-MARTIN: Okay.  Thank you.  Thank you, Helen. 

So maybe, again, to put some perspective, as you said, about who sort of is left behind, we know that today there are 3.9 billion people that are currently not connected, so more than half of the world's population is still not connected.  We know that two out of three of those not connected reside in the Asia Pacific region.  We know that many of them live in rural areas, and we also know that vulnerable groups are those that are the most affected, and that means women and girls. 

Our latest ITU statistics show that the digital gender gap is actually growing.  It's growing most in Africa.  We see it closing and, in some cases, women outnumber men in Europe and in some countries in the Americas region, but we are quite concerned because the gap seems to be growing in certain parts of the world, and we think that we need to take swift action to close the gap. 

We think that we need to be focusing on affordability issues because we know that a number of the barriers around women's access to the Internet are a result of affordability issues, that it's far too expensive, so that needs to be tackled.  We also believe that threats, so cybersecurity issues can also hamper women's access and use of ICTs.  Digital literacy is also a problem.  So women and girls often lack the skills that they need once they get connected in order to be able to make effective use of that connectivity.  And there's also a concern around the lack of relevant content.  So apps, services that may benefit women are lacking, and we know that that is also the result of the fact that there are so few women out there that are actually creating content.  Sort of a visual circle, but maybe I'll get to that later in the next round.  Thank you. 

>> HELEN CROXSON:  Thank you, Doreen. 

And Chat, I know you have been doing some research recently into this area, looking at the barriers that are preventing women getting online.  Is there anything you can share with us from what you have been doing? 

>> CHAT GARCIA RAMILO: Just to add to what Doreen was saying, because these are definitely some of the most important ones, I think the other, I want to look at threats, one, and also around vulnerabilities because I think vulnerabilities, yes, women are more vulnerable men, but there are more vulnerable groups.  I think we need to understand that there are differences, that women do not have equal access; there's also differences in relation to access. 

So I think the first trend, for example, we see around criminalization of behavior.  That's quite important.  Women might have access, but more and more a lot of behavior is being criminalized, and what kinds of behaviors?  That will be around sexual expression.  In a will be around when women and girls are actually outside of what religious institutions might want and other behaviors.  I think the behavior that is offline is when women and girls actually find way to actually find freedom of expression.  And the criminalization part is very important here because I think it's really the point of access is not simply to have access; it has to be around agency, and it has to be around empowerment. 

The other point around access, the vulnerability, again, to see what kinds of women, because I don't think -- there's differences.  Indigenous women have different vulnerabilities than women who are in rural areas or who are in urban areas, and I think those issues need to come in when we are doing research, when we find evidence as to how to really understand the issues around lack of access. 

>> HELEN CROXSON:  Thank you.  Some really interesting points.  I think some of it we will hear again as themes going through. 

Anna, I just with wondered if you wanted to add from your work you have been doing.  I know that we've had some conversations about not just the issue being about access to the Internet, but also about encouraging usage. 

>> ANNA FALTH: Thank you.  Yeah, I think that goes back to the relevance of the conference, and in some countries, having access to a phone or having access to the Internet means something negative in the local community.  It means that you have access to being unfaithful, you have access to getting a content that is not socially culturally acceptable.  But I think we need to work much more on raising awareness of what Internet actually brings. 

We had a conversation with one of our partners in Brazil where they think that if you have access to the Internet and the phone it means that you will be on social media, and that's limited, the perception is that Internet is social media, and social media means that professionally you might become a fashion journalist.  So it's very limited in what people actually perceive of being the Internet, and I think we need to do much more in driving that attention. 

I'd like to also bring a little different dimension to the cyberviolence.  I think we need to have much more data that explains what is happening.  We have already a few studies on what it means generally to the economy and the cost to the workplace, for example, when violence is happening.  We don't have enough data on showing specifically on cyberviolence.  But just to give two examples, one from PNG, Papua New Guinea, where the study shows that domestic violence has a cost of 5% payroll for companies, which is quite a lot, which means they have calculated absenteeism at work, they have calculated different options that women are taking when they are being exposed to violence.  So what does it mean if women are exposed to cyberviolence?  What impact does it have?  Will it limit their education opportunities online?  Will it limit their opportunities for employment?  What does it actually mean?  And I think we need to go much deeper into that. 

The other example is from Egypt, where they calculated the cost of harassment in the public space.  About $20 to $25 per incident.  With the social and personal implication of the violence.  We need to understand better what impact cyberviolence actually has on women. 

>> I think that's really fascinating because it's something that we have been looking into recently actually is the access, the doctrine of Internet, and actually all technology to do with mobile, but it's concerned around safety and being harassed, and I have to say there's definitely a lack of data out there.  It's almost impossible to size this issue or to track it down. 

And I think the other thing that really speaks to me as well is what you were saying about perception of the Internet.  We've recently been doing some research, done a new report about triggering rural Internet adoption amongst women in Southeast Asia, which is focused on people who already have a phone.  And the perception of the Internet is so important.  We did it in two markets in Africa.  In particular in the two African markets, there's very much an association with the Internet and social media.  They are synonymous with each other.  And what happens is they don't see the benefits, which is what you said.  Well, if it's social media, I don't need it.  And in the Asian market, certainly, it's a bit like, well, this is a bit frivolous.  Why should I spend money on it?  It's not value for money.  Then the perception is it's holding people back, so not seeing the real benefit they can get from it. 

I would like to ask Nanjira, so we've just been talking about some of the barriers that exist to women getting online.  But if we move on to what's actually being done to help women to get access to the Internet, what have you been seeing that you think is happening at the moment and is working well? 

>> NANJIRA SAMBULI: Before I answer that question, I think at some point what the issue of perception is of getting online, we have to start discussing whether mobile first is creating new device and perception of what the Internet is of this frivolous space versus accessing the Internet in other devices. 

I know many of you the first time you came online was probably a computer, desktop-type device.  Maybe there was a perception, focus, serious future on that laptop

I will take the perspective of what I have seen governments doing, as I believe it all starts with the government.  So one good example is in Costa Rica, they provide subsidies to low-income households to buy fixed computers -- sorry, rather fixed bandwidth and a computer.  What's interesting about that is approximately 95% of the households that qualify for that subsidy are actually female led, so that has been leading towards getting them towards that point of access.  So now they have been able to see this is one way to start closing the divide at the point of access.  It could be expanded upon to even go towards mobile connectivity and other ways that people can connect to the Internet. 

Another example that is taking a mobile-first access approach from a government level is in Colombia, which the government has a specific program that targets people who have never been online before, and it targets the affordability issue from both the cost of data and the cost of devices.  So what they do is they provide like a three to four GB mobile data package that costs approximately $2, and with access between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.  I think that's an incentive for people to just, even if it's social media, kind of test it out kind of thing, and to also give them an opportunity to purchase a subsidized 4G platform, which I think is really good, and on top of that, has free access to online government services, educational content, social networks, and such.  So that kind of approach I think has been incentivizing people who have never been online before to get online. 

And last but not least, I think we are starting to see some possible public work with access, and I know we will have more to hear about that. 

>> HELEN CROXSON:  Fantastic. 

Chat? 

>> CHAT GARCIA RAMILO: Yeah.  I think it's like -- yes, mobile is very important.  I think it really has made a difference in terms of just much more access.  But I do think we have to provide connectivity in all its differences.  I guess multiplicity. 

I want to talk about one more example to add to these examples.  It's quite important to see what's worked on the ground. 

One of our members, and we've been working on this, the idea around local access.  So really to focus much more on not so much a scale -- I mean, scale is something that's important, but I do think when you talk about scale, again, you are not hitting the differences at the local level.  What are the local needs?  So then local access.  One example is in Oaxaca, there is an organization that provides community telecommunications.  They work with an organization called Telecommunications in Indigenous Communities, it's the first-ever fully licensed community-owned and operated GSM network.  And it actually provides connectivity to their indigenous communities.  I believe it's about 16 communities in different parts of what you had a ca.  Oaxaca is a state with a lot of indigenous communities.  They provide access, about $2 a month is what they pay.  You can see the difference in terms of what they can afford.  These are areas where there's local connectivity.  But even then, the idea is for them to look at that network also and to be able then to, number one, address what are the local needs.  And one of the things we are working with them on is looking at social impact and gender impact downstream.  Okay, you've got access.  How does that then look at -- we look at that in relation to access in relation to women and men.  And as well as economic opportunities that connectivity provides. 

So I will leave it there.  There are other examples that I might share later. 

>> HELEN CROXSON:  Thank you, Nanjira and Chat.  Those are some really good examples.  I think you both talked about examples of government or NGO. 

Rachel, I would really like to understand.  You are from the private sector with Millicom.  What is it the private sector is currently doing to help get women online? 

>> RACHEL SAMREN: Well, I think, Helen, each operator has its own program and does different things, but speaking certainly from Millicom's perspective, as I said at the outset, for us working with this issue is a no-brainer.  There's no other option.  First of all, it's 50% of our talent pool and 50% of our potential consumer pool, but also, more importantly, we do want to connect everyone.  That is really our ambition of where we are.  I think what's really important is no one can address this on their own.  A key point from our perspective is partnerships and collaboration.  That's really the only way we will actually be able to close the gender gap.  I think that's something that has to be an accepted fact. 

Taking that as a starting point, we have focused a lot on looking at this analytically and looking at how can we best collaborate to address this?  How can we best use our expertise?  You have heard various things mentioned, but very much the starting point we have taken.  Find out first what is it that actually prevents women from having more access?  We have done it together with GSMA through the Connected Women program.  I think we were the first to have all our African operations signed up.  We then took initiative to Latin America, where we are just missing one country to actually include the entire world to have operations connecting women to get access to research and data beyond what we have.  Because we have, of course, for our consumer base, but we need more than that to understand who are not the consumers. 

So first of all, research and really understanding the data that's available together with partners like the GSMA with local NGOs, especially those focused on women.  Then what is the part we can play in actually addressing those barriers?  A lot of it comes down to understanding and knowledge.  Knowledge is not only about using how to use a smartphone or the Internet, it's also about understanding its value.  So we spend a lot of time on training, first of all training our own staff to then train women and communities.  We spend a lot of time on changing sales agents, female sales agents, because we know, as was mentioned, sometimes women might have psychological barriers and will feel much more comfortable actually being addressed by female agents rather than male.  It also sometimes does help with the perception that this is not something that women should really get into if you have a woman explaining to you why it can really help you in your daily life.  Having classroom sessions simply using smartphone, how to use it, what it can do for you, but then also really trying to take it a step further to address some of the points that Doreen mentioned when it comes to allowing for women to also become entrepreneurs, allowing for women also to become the innovators in the sector. 

We are working with groups of crafts women in rural areas, not only teaching them how to use smartphones, but also teaching them how to set up mobile money wallet, how to create their own Internet pages so they can sell their crafts on line, can save money through the mobile money wallet, and thereby really become contributors to the local economy as well as much more financially independent.  That's just one example. 

In Chad we've had female communities where women who work in the same trade craft pool their money, again through the help of mobile money wallet, again, allowing them much more financial independence while learning about how they can use the Internet further so they then spend the money on that.  All of this is one ecosystem, and it's one cycle where everyone has to play their part.  We can, of course, educate women as to why Internet might help them, but we have a commercial entity, so we can have the best of intentions, but they might still doubt us.  That's why we need everyone to contribute their expertise from the government, from the education ministries to help with the education, the NGO world to help ministries work out where they need to target, which areas are perhaps more vulnerable.  For tribal and religious leaders to also be part of this effort to indeed overcome some of these negative perception that is we heard about.  But from an operator perspective, a lot of innovative ideas. 

And last but not least, also focusing on having more females in senior positions inside the companies because the more role models we have and the more female minds we have working on the products that we can offer to, indeed, address also affordability and to attract female consumers, the more we can also expand that ecosystem. 

You know, there are so many angles to it, but we are trying to have a realistic view and add our expertise because we cannot solve it on our own, but we certainly like to contribute where he can with make most of a difference -- where we can make most of a difference. 

>> HELEN CROXSON:  Thank you, Rachel.  Rachel mentioned the Connected Women initiative, something we launched back in February 2016, whereby we are working with operators across low- and middle-income market and encouraging them to make a commitment to reduce the gender gap in either their mobile base or Internet base.  To date we have commitments from 33 different mobile operators, including the majority (?) and 47 commitments.  So some will be money, a lot of them will be in mobile Internet.  We are working with these operators, and it's a massive effort by the private sector.  So it's good to see that there's so many women behind it.  By 2020 hopefully we will see some tangible differences. 

What we've been talking about are some lovely examples of how people are trying to tackle the gender gap, but Anna, I am going to ask you, you know, are people making the effort to close the gender gap, but in some places the digital divide is increasing.  What is it we can do differently to try and scale this up and to try and accelerate digital inclusion rather than almost seeing it go backwards in some places? 

>> ANNA FALTH: Thank you.  I'd like to go back to the point on partnerships.  And I know -- and I believe that Doreen will talk a little bit about EQUALS later, but I think for us to make progress, we really need to bring together all of the different partners, whether it's government, government policies, private sector, civil society working on the ground, and us in the UN system, we are trying to bring everyone together. 

In addition to bringing the different partners together, there is a lot of awareness raising to be done, and I think if we look at children starting school, what we don't have is enough education already from the outset, the education about what Internet is about, what it brings, and also about the cyber bullying, et cetera, and how to behave.  It's not something that -- a lot of young people think that they can be different people online than they are in reality.  And why is it not -- I mean, I would like to bring another point on that, but we have an offline world and an online world, and suddenly because you get online you think that you are invisible.  It's quite interesting, bring back another example from Brazil, where there was a lot of cyber bullying.  And what they did was to kind of match the online space with the offline space, so they took the words of the bullyers -- if that's what you call them -- and they put them on big billboards with the account, the social media account, and in their neighborhood.  So they were through the geotagging, they were actually able to find where they lived, and they put the words on a billboard, racial, sexual, whatever remarks they had done out on the billboard.  And they created a big campaign out of this, and they actually had a lot of men coming and apologizing.  They hadn't realized that whatever they wouldn't do in the offline space they would actually do it online, and how real it became that they saw it in front of them and they realized that it was a big problem. 

I think the other perspective with the online and offline, the learning part of it, a lot of people believe if you just take the content and put it online, it would help.  You can't just take a textbook and put it online.  You need to bring it into the online space.  And I think these are some of the challenges as well that we need to understand the digital world to be able to craft the content accordingly. 

And we had last week a session in the UAE where we had a everyone too, she was very happy and excited that they were using social media in the classroom.  And this is also another challenge that social media's often based on algorithms.  And what people don't realize is that if they express interest in a certain type of content, that's the content that will be served.  So it actually silos people's minds, that in the U.S. you will have U.S. content, but you won't be served content from Africa, from Asia.  This is a problem in today's world, where we see more and more of these outrageous comments online.  People are not exposed to diversity, and they are not exposed to inclusion and messages that we would want them to access.  So it becomes a very siloed, and people are not exposed to real life.  So I just want to bring up that linkage between online and offline. 

But partnership is definitely the way forward, and I will ask Doreen to maybe talk a little bit about the partnership we have between GSMA, ITU, UNU, UN Women to bridge the gender digital gap. 

>> HELEN CROXSON:  Thank you.  Perfect segue.  Doreen, I know from the recent report that the World Bank's mission, Working Group on the digital agenda, got some very clear recommendations from a group of stakeholders on how we should tackle the gender gap in digital inclusion.  Can you tell us about this. 

>> DOREEN BOGDAN-MARTIN: Okay.  Thank you. 

So I would say first, in order to be able to scale, this is where the Broadband Commission report comes in, you need to have commitment, and you need to have commitment at the highest level and also coming back to what Chat was saying, at the local level too.  Because it's not just sort of one solution for all.  We need to be sensitive to local needs.  But commitment is key, and we believe that this is a real leadership imperative that we need to be bridging the digital gender divide. 

One of the things that we're doing in the ITU is something called Girls in ICT Day.  It's celebrated on the fourth Thursday of the fourth month, something we've been running since 2010, and over 160 countries have done celebrations, and we've tapped into hundreds of thousands of girls around the world, and it's about raising awareness of the importance of careers in the ICT sector.  

Now, on the Broadband Commission side, for those of you that don't know the Broadband Commission, it's the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development.  It brings together some 50 personalities from around the world.  It's cochaired by Carlos Slim and President Kagami and the co-Vice Chairs of the ITU Secretary General and the UNESCO Director General.  The Broadband Commission Working Group on the Digital Gender Gap was led by the GSMA head and the Director General of UNESCO, and they came out with a number of recommendations.  Those recommendations have to do with data -- and we've had lots of references to the importance of getting better data, so that's key.  The second recommendation was around having a gender perspective in strategies, policies, and plans.  And then perhaps even more importantly, having a budget associated to that.  We often have great plans, but when there's no budget, nothing happens.  The third recommendation was around addressing barriers.  I alluded to some of those before, the barriers around access, so the cybersecurity, affordability, skills, and content.  And then the fourth one is about working together, partnerships, and that's where Anna's comments come in about the need for all of us to really be coming together to make a difference. 

What's good about this report from the Broadband Commission, is the chair of the group, in particular Mats Granryd, insist that those involve continue to focus on their commitment.  So they are continuously committing, telling us what they are doing, so that's great.  It keeps everything alive.  And ITU and UN Women have come together with this EQUALS partnership, and so that's tackling the fourth recommendation in particular of this Broadband Commission group, and through the EQUALS partnership, we have brought together over 50 entities, more than 25 academic institutions, and over 25 government, civil society, and private sector organizations that have come together in the form of a partnership where we will be tackling access, skills, and leadership.  And leadership was also referred to before. 

And I just wanted to mention there are so many great things out there.  We've done a digital mapping of these initiatives through the EQUALS partnership, so we've mapped some 550 initiatives.  There's plenty of other initiatives out there, but when you see a good practice, it's certainly worth sharing, and we hope that many of those good practices can be shared.  And I'd like to take the opportunity to inform you that tomorrow night at 5:00 in room 18, I believe, we will be having the EQUALS Award Ceremony, and that's an opportunity to see some of these best practices.  We will some 300 nominations from around the world, 15 finalists, and tomorrow night we will be hearing from our three winners, and those are three great stories that are certainly worth replicating. 

Thank you. 

>> HELEN CROXSON:  That's fantastic.  Hopefully quite a few of you will make that tomorrow evening.  Thank you very much. 

So thinking about moving forward and how we tackle this issue, Nanjira, is there anything that you think this is what we should be focusing on? 

>> NANJIRA SAMBULI: Yes, I will (Audio fading in and out.) Now, often when you look at who constitutes this panel, you will find none of us represent government.  In the audience we may have one or two.  But what happens is if they are not already in the conversation, where do we get them to understand that this is an issue?  Where do we get them to also commit to addressing this issue?  And why they have to be involved from the get-go is the digital gender divide as we know it today is a result of quality failure.  So all our interventions, whether we are private sector or whether we are civil society, will only go as far as how they are aligned with the national or regional governments' plans to actually take on long-term investment. 

And why I bring up quality is because what the right policy environment does is it helps us identify long-term ways to successfully address these issues.  So if we have -- and it show that is we have all entry points, if we are working in one country.  So (?) is working in Tanzania, Web Foundation is working in Tanzania, UN Women is working in Tanzania.  We have all identified something.  How do we get together to address the needs.  That's what the right environment does. 

It helps us to identify once we have a proper diagnostic we are feeding into the investment mechanism so all our efforts, time, money, anything we are able to bring to the table is measurable.  We talk about the Sustainable Development Goals.  Part of why we keep coming back and asking for more data is how do we bring it to one space and help understand who has done what for what community, who has proven what is possible, how to make sure we don't duplicate efforts.  I leave here with a training, then some other organization comes tomorrow, trains the same people over and over again.  Unfortunately, that's been happening.  So good resources are going to waste. 

But last but not least, these qualities have to be gender responsive, this whole idea that everything from the point of how infrastructure is being designed is considered where the women and girls are or where marginalized communities are.  To be able to make sure that right from the get-go the mechanisms consider women and girls, where they are, what's missing, all these issues because the digital gender divide is also taking on very traditional issues of inequality.  Get this right if it's possible.  The development community then comes in to pressure and to make sure we make this commitment something that they hold on to and commit, have government commit to saying you know what, we will have to report back because you have the money. 

>> First of all, I absolutely couldn't agree more.  It's also a question of we are not only everyone contributing their expertise and collaborating, but it's also that we need to all lose our sense of pride and competition. 

Now, of course, as a private sector entity, we are known to be notoriously competitive, but this is one of the issues that competition only hinders efforts.  I think that is equally applicable to engage governments and NGOs.  There's a lot of duplication, so we see a lot of NGOs wanting to do the same thing.  And we also -- so that competition really needs to go because it's actually becoming wasteful, and it's slowing down efforts.  Secondly, I think from the government perspective, the competition is more in terms of them wanting to show that they are doing the right thing for populations.  Again, that mind-set needs to go, and we need to take a view that we can all do this together in a very different -- turn the tables a little bit. 

I would like to add one point, coming back to what Anna brought up in terms of children and schools, and I'd like to make a comparison with another gender gap discussion, which is about women in senior positions, not just in the tech industry, but in general, and women on board.  Lots of effort is being put into changing the statistics there.  A not of countries are legislating for it.  I, myself, am from Sweden, one of the companies that's been perhaps most advanced in this, but we have a problem even there in terms of the next generation, because if we are just addressing the problem as it is, you are not addressing what comes next in the pipeline, and I would like to actually transpose also on this debate, if we don't focus on the schools, on the young children, on the connectivity and education, then whatever we address here at the existing women level will not actually help us for the future, unfortunately.  Of course, women have a tremendous role to play educating their children, but we can't forget about the children and the schools and the education and the training that we need there.  We work a lot with civil society.  Costa Rica is actually one example where we work together with a foundation in Central America, which is online educational classroom for parents with modules where they can learn how they can help their children get online and more importantly how they can get online safely.  We work with government in terms of connecting schools as part of an organization in the United States hoping to connect all schools by 2020.  Tanzanian government, first ever on large scale for schools there.

We know connection is not enough.  Even when we have 4G broadly available in so many countries, it's about actually knowing how to use it, and it does really have to trickle down also to the school and the girls level because otherwise we'll be addressing the problem only for short-term, and we'll have to redo it all over again when they grow up if they don't feel comfortable using the Internet.  And of course, protecting as well the child rights, impact assessment as we work on (?) are a crucial part of this to understand where the risks and where are the opportunities. 

>> HELEN CROXSON:  Thank you.  Thank you.  We've had some really interesting thoughts and ideas out, but I am aware of time.  So I would now like to open up to any questions from the floor.  Is there anybody amongst you who has questions for our panel?  If you do and it's a specific member of the panel, please can you just make sure -- make it clear who it is you are asking the question of and also make sure that it is framed as a question.  Thank you. 

Is there anybody that would like to kick off with a question? 

Oh, go ahead. 

>> Yeah, thank you for that very interesting discussion.  I have more of a comment and a question.  It is true that women find it difficult to access Internet due to various issues, such as a lack of accessibility, lack of affordability, including some of other points that you have raised, but if I give you an example from my personal experience, some of the women -- I am from Sri Lanka, so most of the women in Sri Lanka do have access to Internet, and they are also quite active in their personal sphere on Facebook.  But when it comes to having a discussion on social issues and particularly a page we have been running to flag violations on a daily basis, women are reluctant to take part mainly because of the fear of being subject to cyber bullying.  Do you have any similar experience to share, any of the panelists, from your part of the world, and maybe this is something that we can also focus on because given the fact that there may be activities to access Internet, there can be other social events, like that perception that you mentioned.  And I am also curious to know if that perception, you said that Internet is synonymous to this idea that if you don't want to be on social media, it is something that you have -- is it something you have found particular to a certain region?  Thank you. 

>> HELEN CROXSON:  Thank you for the question.  I think, Nanjira, you would like to respond? 

>> NANJIRA SAMBULI: I will definitely respond.  On the issue of civil and political information, you are right on the mark.  This is research we have conducted found while that is an issue, when women are actually politically active offline, then they are more likely to use the medium, which is the Internet, whichever way they are connected, to be active online.  It shows you we must never fall for this idea that technology in and of itself will fill the gaps of how women have been perceived in society and the spaces they can occupy. 

Now, the other point to that also is there is such a need for role models, ourselves especially, those of us who understand these issues, to be seen to speak to this thing when that helps a lot with women, and especially younger women, getting online and seeing it's not just a space to post selfies.  Nothing wrong with that, but you can have a political voice as well.  There's such a need for role models, people who are, as I call it, ungovernable, if you will, to speak up and show it is a roadmap that others can follow.  But yeah,. 

>> I guess the question if it is particular to just one area, absolutely not.  I think it is definitely a global experience.  How it plays out might be different. 

If you are looking for resources, I would offer you we have been doing a lot of work around awareness raising and also safety, how do we engage the Internet safely.  So one of the complaints that we've done for the last ten years is take back the tech, which is really looking at different aspects, sharing experiences, looking at different resources.  So I can talk to you later on and I can show you some of those. 

>> HELEN CROXSON:  Fantastic.  I think, Anna, you've also got some thoughts on this you would like to share. 

>> ANNA FALTH: Yeah.  We have been running a platform empowerwomen.org over the past four years, and it's been quite an interesting experience where we were set up, we got funding from the Government of Canada to set it up, and to be a hub to discuss women's economic empowerment issues. 

We realized that there were not so many professionals that wanted to discuss their technical expertise, but rather, young women who wanted to understand and connect with other women in a safe space.  It actually led to -- let them understand that each woman is an expert on her own empowerment.  Everyone has an idea on what empowerment means to them.  We've had a lot of campaigns where they have been discussing these kind of sometimes intimate questions.  We once had a girl from Bangladesh asking I don't really understand this thing with empowerment.  How does it link with marriage?  So they got into quite intimate discussions, actually, on what empowerment means, and they felt quite secure to do so.  And whether empowerment comes first and marriage after or it can actually be in combination.  So it just shows that the girls were confident enough in a closed space on a particular issue to have those kind of conversations.  And I think it's -- social media can be quite brutal, and to show your inner feelings and emotions on social media can be intimidating, and I think it's important to create a safe space to feel you can talk about these things. 

>> HELEN CROXSON:  Thank you.  Thanks very much.  I think we have a question from over ...

>> Hi.  My name is --

>> The gentleman over there after.  Oh, and then -- yeah, if you'd like to go ahead. 

>> My name is (?) I work with Columbia University in New York.  To develop a little on the comment that was raised before about cyber bullying, I am wondering if the speakers could comment on the idea of using content regulation in response to cyber bullying.  A lot of times the response to aggressive speech is more speech.  The question is do we regulate content?  If we do, it would be interesting, should we regulate content depending on the context of the country where the speech originated.  If it's a country where women generally lack (Audio fading in and out.)

>> I would say I think if you go down the line of regulating content, then it's really down the path where you can say -- one question to ask is who regulates content?  What kind of content is regulated, I think you are going down the path that there is sort of no bottom to it.  I do think what we should be focused more on is I should say more speech, but more speech doesn't mean you sort of engage directly.  There are, I think, different ways of engaging speech, which is there is some value in (?) to some extent because then the space is not useful for you.  There is a way, a strategy where you find support in your network, different kinds of networks who can really find support for women who, let's say, being attacked. 

For example, one of the Take Back The Tech campaign that I was talking about, two years ago, and it was very aggressive, and what we did really is we made sure that we talked to the network, we made sure that we had strategies to keep ourselves safe and that no individual is attacked.  And we looked after ourselves.  So that's one of the things we look at.  But we are very careful around content regulation.  But at the same time, we are also saying that there is gender-based violence and speech that is about -- hate speech based on gender.  But I think understanding about that more is very important. 

>> HELEN CROXSON:  Thank you.  I don't see any questions coming online at the moment.  There's a gentleman down there who had a question, if you'd like to go ahead. 

>> Yeah, okay.  Thank you very much.  You know, I am not (?) Seed Alliance shows way about governance issues.  In 2014, I was one of the awardees.  So thank you.  My question is when you were talking about inclusiveness, how you are considering that women with disabilities who have double discrimination to accessing Internet.  Believe me, if we have the technology, if women and girls have the technology and Internet, they can live their life and enjoy all their rights by accessing technology such as a smartphone, computer, and other things.  This is a basic human right for women and girls with disabilities, and they can overcome disabilities if we can properly use that.  So do you consider anything about the girls and women with disabilities?  Because inclusiveness what is for us, people with disabilities?  We cannot achieve by ignoring women and girls with disabilities who have a double discrimination.  Thank you. 

>> HELEN CROXSON:  Thank you.  I think the question here is what action has been done for those who are female and with disability.  You are totally right.  It is, as you say, double discrimination, and probably doubly hard for them to get online. 

I mean, I am personally aware that there is a research council where there has been discussion about investigating this area from some of the people involved in the research coalition.  I don't know if anybody on the panel has seen any examples of what's been done. 

Rachel, I think? 

>> RACHEL SAMREN: Well, certainly, from our perspective, whether it's with regards to women or more generally, we make no distinction as to who should be digitally or financially included.  All efforts should always target the entire population.  That also goes for employment within the company, where again, I said it's also about having diversity of mind within the company, so we have specific efforts there to ensure that we really have everyone, that we think about all consumers, whichever background they come from. 

I think I would like to add to the question, it's more a comment, that it does pose challenges in some countries where the government role will be very important to address this because disabilities are not necessarily out in the open from the government's perspective.  Sadly, in some of the markets where we operate that is still the reality.  Which makes it much harder for us to target specific groups to begin with if they aren't actually identified or if they aren't put into the access to us for groupings, like we say women are among the vulnerable.  And I think that we really need to get better working with governments there on acknowledging and identifying that need first of all, because that is certainly a challenge that we see in some of our markets, that they aren't actually necessarily recognized by their own governments as a group.  They are by certain brave civil society organizations we work are before you not necessarily more broadly. 

>> HELEN CROXSON:  Thank you, Rachel.  I think it sounds a bit that we also need to go back to understanding the problem, understanding where people are discriminated, understanding why women are being kept offline, and within women, what are the different segments that are struggling to find it harder.  Does anybody have anything to add?  Okay. 

>> Yeah, I think one issue is to know, to understand the problem, but also to understand the solution.  So there are solutions, for example, for visually impaired people going online, but how accessible is that software to the broader public?  And we are working with a hearing impaired young woman in Canada, and she said actually through the Internet it was the first time that she was able to have a conversation with somebody who was visually impaired.  So for the first time they can actually come together and work in groups and really try to push this agenda.  But I think the understanding of solutions is very important. 

>> HELEN CROXSON:  Thank you.  The lady here right in front of me, please. 

>> Thank you very much.  Listening to the discussions, I think I am taken back to the comment that Rachel made earlier, where the importance of partnerships can only help this agenda move forward.  And what I would like to hear from you is how does it actually play out in reality?  We do have an issue of competition, duplication that is going on and on.  We are in 2017, 2018, and this replication needs, I don't know, to be addressed quite seriously.  But I would like to hear from you, how does the notion of partnership actually play out in reality?  Because there is a sense of, you know, territorialness, if I may call it that, with how we do development. 

>> HELEN CROXSON:  Great question.  So we understand that partnerships are important, but how is it working in reality, and how could it work going forward? 

Anyone?  I think lots of people want to discuss.  So should we start with Doreen, then Nanjira and Chat? 

>> DOREEN BOGDAN-MARTIN: Good question, and certainly it's not always easy. 

I think one of the good things is that the digital gender gap has been recognized by most recently by the general assembly -- my colleague, Ursula, is in the room -- and there is a whole paragraph on everybody needing to come together to address the digital gender gap, the women's 20 through the G20, so we have all of these great words.  How do the words end up in action?  That's where we have to figure out the right partnership models.  And it's not always easy.  Even with my colleague and sister here from UN Women, it's not always easy, even on the UN front, to partner and to share.  Right?  Because we each have our own respective mandates, but we need to figure out ways to come together. 

That's really what we are trying to do through this EQUALS partnership.  It's kind of a concept we came up with and we have been trying to perfect it over the past several months, where we have a number of UN agencies, we have GSMA, we have civil society, we have the UN Foundation, we have APC, we have lots of different entities.  We have governments.  What we are trying to do is figure out who is doing what where and how can we bring those things together?  If Anna is doing a project in Tanzania, maybe I can help her, or maybe she can help me in Mozambique.  We have some specific examples where the World Economic Forum is also part of the EQUALS partnership, and they have this program called the Internet for All initiative, where they are going specifically in countries.  So one of the countries is Rwanda, and they have decided to add an EQUALS track to the Internet for All partnership, so working closely with the Digital Opportunity Trust, we are rolling out digital skills programs to women in Rwanda.  So it's a way of kind of connecting the dots and bringing people together to really try to make it happen.  I think there's different levels of partnerships, but EQUALS is really trying to be a framework, first to see who is doing what, and then figure out how we can come together, combine efforts, and really figure out a way to maximize, in some cases, very limited resources. 

>> (Off microphone). 

>> RACHEL SAMREN: I am going to be slightly controversial here.  We actually say no to certain partnerships for exactly the reasons you mentioned, because we only have so many resources, and we also have a business to run.  So we try to be very selective.  And I would like to take you back to the point of the absolutely crucial role of government.  So we have ended up working in partnerships on a more micro level, so we choose them very carefully, then we try to tie them up very strongly with both government and the relevant civil society organizations.  So we have a global (?) with everything to do with child rights and child protection.  But we obviously can't execute that just with UNICEF.  We then make sure that the governments buy into it.  I think the reason we need to go into this, like someone mentioned, most governments have national (?) so all of these ideas really should fit into that. 

I think what of course I want competition, invention, we also want to be open minded and look at ideas, but I think also it's a little bit of a call to civil society, to international organizations to please take a step back and maybe look at what is a good government in each country want and need, and who fits into those programs?  Because they ultimately are the owners of the infrastructure in their country.  We operate on licenses that they let us use. 

So at the end of the day, between us and the government, it's very clear what role we can play, but there's too much input from the outside sometimes to ideas that are not necessarily being channeled.  I am not saying the governments have the capacity on their own.  They need the help from civil society and the institutions.  But I think, you know, we probably should all take a step back and take stock and say okay, what are the national broadbands?  How do the women fit into those?  Who are the departments that actually need support and what kind of support do they need, and what are the operator's role in terms of executing?  Because otherwise, as you said, we will continue to have a barrage of ideas and all talk about wanting to partner, but actually duplicating. 

>> HELEN CROXSON:  Thank you.  So selected partnership, doing, as was said, less but better. 

>> DOREEN BOGDAN-MARTIN: If I could just jump in again, and Rachel's point about being perhaps selected, I think the role of the government is critical.  If government doesn't use this as a priority, it's going to be very difficult to do a project or have a partnership in that specific country.  And we have been analyzing national broadband plans.  Regret plea, most of them don't have specific references to closing the digital gender gap.  We try to urge government to put that in there.  As I mentioned from the beginning, to be appropriating the necessary budget to actually make sure it happens. 

>> I think it's also been very specific, and to an extend even surgical, what kind of issue we are tackling.  I will give you an example, driving down the cost of broadband.  We are all partners of each others' partnership.  It's very specific to the issue of driving down the cost of broadband.  We require, necessitate governments come to the table.  The issues to do with the infrastructure sharing are brought to the table.  It has a global level component.  It has local level component, where governments actually invite the coalition, and they actually subscribe to working with private sector and civil society in country. 

It is not easy to get all the people in the room.  It is long-term.  The support mechanisms for that definitely need to assess that.  And I think down the line, what we are start to go see with this discussion, is what does a successful partnership look like, and what is the framework to are that?  Maybe one of these days at the next IGF we will have a framework. 

>> HELEN CROXSON:  Thank you.  A follow-up question? 

>> (Off microphone)

>> Sorry, sorry about that.  I am the only one from government here. 

(Laughter)

I would like to say that we are not that bad.  We are trying our very best, and when you talk about partnership, that is the issue is that we are having at the moment, you know, in Malaysia, we use what we call the multiple -- we call it national (Inaudible).  Here there is not too much competition.  I am from the communications and the multimedia sector.  I can say and I would like to assure that we can do that if we want to do it. 

Okay.  What we did was that we will ask the telcos, okay, this is the partnership, we call it PCP, then okay, private and public, we work together.  Where the telcos are going to take -- of course, provide the license, and they do it for us.  We call it digitize-humanize.  The digitizing will be tackled by the telcos, and the humanizing part, the one that we are talking about the software, that is empower women and to make sure that they are there to use the infrastructure that will be provided by the telcos. 

So it is really surprising when I got to know and we went down to the most remote areas in Malaysia, we connect them, we provide training for them, and at the end of the day, I can see women are everywhere and they are really -- I can say that we unlock and unleash the potential, particularly in entrepreneurship.  They are so good at that, and I would like to recommend that if we can do that, that will be quite good.  Yeah? 

I would like to say again, governments really must play their role and play it well.  Thank you very much. 

>> HELEN CROXSON:  And thank you.  It's fantastic to have somebody here to represent all governments.  (Laughter). 

I am really sorry, but we are -- very, very quick question, if it's a quick question. 

>> Thank you very much.  I am from Cuba.  I am also from a government. 

I think that very briefly, first on sane signing and ratifying the Convention on (?) Cuba was the first one to sign and second to ratify.  Rights of women not to be discriminated.  Second is to implement that organizations, through basic education, access to training, in the very ages of girls specifically.  Then we go to their agents of empowerment.  And all of the panelists have referred to empowerment, about but political empowerment too. 

So the idea is that not only to get access to the Internet, but access to training, for women to become actor in the space, in the economy, in the markets.  That's our vision.  So now, at the level of Cuba, there is a big process of informatization of society, although we are maybe lacking to higher, higher access of Internet, but we are evolving very fast over the coming years because there is a national strategy by the government where there is a focus on women, taking into account our commitments from the legal point of view, but through the area of informatization, it is a new way of doing.  We would really like to thank all of the panelists, and we really support the (?) build plan of action and strategies by governments.  Thank you very much. 

>> HELEN CROXSON:  Thank you for that comment.  It's great to know that Cuba is committed to this issue and has obviously got plans in place. 

So we are run out of time for any other questions, but what I am going to do to wrap up is I am just going to ask the panel all very briefly, this is -- and I think we knew this before we came in the room -- a very complex issue.  The reasons why we have a digital gender gap, why there are less women online than men, it's very complex, and there are a lot of interlocking barriers and reasons why women aren't coming online.  There is no one thing that we can do to solve it, but I am going to ask our panel if you can just say one by one is there something we should be focusing on moving forward and looking to the future, what would it be?  So Rachel, if you could start, where would you focus? 

>> RACHEL SAMREN: Well, some of the points I have made, everyone contributing their expertise.  Streamlined, focused efforts, where every party has to be at the table and decide jointly where should the energy be spent rather than everyone doing their own individual projects. 

>> I would like to focus on I think civil society having a lot more to do with infrastructure and regulation in the sense of providing other models for local access and community networks.  I really feel that this is an area that needs to be looked at seriously as a way to address the gap around access, and it is quite powerful if our community networks and our local access initiatives are definitely gender responsive.  And part of that is regulation.  Not only telcos, to look at telcos as providers, but also look at community as providers because if you have that, I think you are closer to some of the local issues that are really quite intractable.  So I do think look at other models aside from what we have now. 

>> NANJIRA SAMBULI: We encapsulate this issue with an acronym that is REACT, a focus on rights, education, affordable access, relevant content, and care government targets.  It is not an either/or.  It's who takes which chunk and runs with it, and each person, government, private sector, civil society, and each of those elements that we discussed today will have a role to play.  We will not start with one and finish with the other.  They all have to be in lockstep, but I think it's happening, and over time I think -- it's not going to happen overnight, but we have to continue working that way and focus on closing that gap. 

>> DOREEN BOGDAN-MARTIN: Maybe picking up on one of Rachel's points before, when we think about the future, I think the one key thing for me is focusing on youth and future leaders.  So it's about engaging, empowering, and educating young girls.  I think we should really be focusing there. 

And the other thing I also wanted to mention is the importance of engaging male champions.  Again, Ursula, this one's for you because Australia has this Male Champions for Change that's been quite effective, and we really need to bring more men into this discussion.  Thank you. 

>> I think I am last, and everybody has said what I completely agree with.  I think it's important that he with understand what the puzzle is and that each organization take a piece of the puzzle, either together or individually. 

If I were to give one action, it's really to understand the puzzle, what are the missing pieces in it, and where do we need to collect more data, what are the good practices already out there, and instead of reinventing the wheel, how do we capsulize those, help scale them and duplicate them in other settings instead of trying to start from scratch.  And there's a lot of organizations trying to start from scratch over and over.  I think really the partnership approach is very important.  Thank you. 

>> HELEN CROXSON:  Thank you.  Thank you for some really insightful final comments.  I think you would all agree that you are looking at some quite holistic approaches.  I am going to attempt to try and sum up some of the themes that I have heard today.  This is always the tricky bit, and I hope everybody will have taken something out of it, but I certainly heard a lot about raising awareness of issues, about understanding the problem, what you were just saying there, Anna, in terms of the pieces of the puzzle, building our knowledge, sharing data, and measuring the impact of initiatives.  So when we talk about research, it's not just understanding the problem, but understanding the solution. (Audio fading in and out.)  We need commitments from all stakeholders, local, across region, but also across different types of women, whether they are disabled women, but also some young girl to older women, that we are tackling the issue in the long-term, so educating from the outset I think is the comment. 

Other things, we talked a lot about partnership, the need for partnership, collaboration, not to compete against each other but to be focused, to select a partnership, and make sure we are working to all go in the same direction. 

I think the other theme I have heard is concerns with safety online with cyber harassment and cyber bullying, and some things I have seen not so much always a barrier to getting online, but once people are online, about keeping people online and keeping people active online because before they go online, they are not as aware of it, and I think it's something that when we are looking at the usage part, not just the access part, that we are really going to have understand and tackle. 

This leads me to say thank you very much to everyone who has come to listen to this session about digital inclusion.  It's fantastic to see so many people.  And it's good to see so many men in the audience as well as women and to know that people care.  So thank you very, very much to our panel.  You are all people who have (Audio fading in and out.) And really appreciate the time you have taken out to join us and talk with us.  Thank you very much. 

(Applause)

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