IGF 2019 WS #113 Building blocks of a gender-inclusive digital economy

Organizer 1: Cecilia Alemany, Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN)
Organizer 2: Patrick Ruether, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung India Office
Organizer 3: Karishma Banga, Open
Organizer 4: Damien Gock, Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era, DAWN

Speaker 1: Cecilia Alemany, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 2: Anita Gurumurthy, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 3: Karishma Banga, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 4: Saskia Esken, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Policy Question(s): 

This session will examine how trends in AI-supported automation and platformization of agriculture, manufacturing, and services sectors of the economy is likely to impact women’s work and livelihood prospects, especially in the global South, and what policy pathways are required to protect and promote their rights, including right to equal opportunity and decent work. In particular, it will take up the following questions:
1. What are the gender-based impacts in the new economy where data as a vital economic resource is reshaping business models? Does the global phenomenon of platformization affect women from the global South differently?
2. How can policy approaches on digital inclusion enable women’s equal participation in the digital economy? What respective roles can policymakers, market actors and civil society organizations play towards eliminating gender inequality and building a gender-inclusive digital economy?

Relevance to Theme: The theme of ‘digital inclusion’ has been envisioned as the creation of an inclusive information society that provides “equal opportunity for all”. The proposed session directly speaks to this issue and in particular, provides a much-needed gender perspective to the theme’s core concern of the future of work in the global South.

Relevance to Internet Governance: Historically, in Internet Governance (IG) debates, the idea of women’s digital inclusion has been confined to the agenda of bridging the gender gap in access to connectivity and basic digital skills. Now that we are in the next stage of the digital revolution characterized by the spread of the platform model from the online communication sphere to all spheres of the economy, the debate on gender inclusion must move to the next frontier. A platformized Internet thus brings forth policy concerns for women’s empowerment and gender-based inclusion in traditional areas such as connectivity and access as well as inclusive techno-design for the economy, and platform and data governance. This panel will map the issues at stake and explore policy directions.


Panel - Auditorium - 90 Min

Description: This session will be organized as a panel discussion of 90 minutes that explores the following agenda:
(a) assessment/ stocktaking of women’s inclusion in the digital economy – connecting the dots between the national, regional and global context of data flows, platforms, AI and automation.
(b) identification of critical issues for women’s livelihoods, worker and data rights in relation to economies of the global South
(c) discussing the contextual responses of state, market and civil society actors in the global South to emerging opportunities and challenges for gender-based inclusion
(d) delineation of the elements of a global agenda for gender-transformative change in the digital paradigm

Patrick Ruether, Country Representative and Head of Office, FES-India will open the session in his role of panel moderator, discussing the intended session outcomes (see Q11). He will introduce the panel speakers to the audience. There are 5 panel speakers of whom 4 have confirmed participation: Anita Gurumurthy, IT for Change, India; Karishma Banga, Overseas Development Institute, UK; Cecilia Alemany, Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era, Uruguay/Fiji and Saskia Esken, Member of the Bundestag, Germany. Confirmation is awaited from Marita Wiggerthale, Oxfam Germany.

We propose to anchor the panel discussion in 2 parts.

The first round will open up with four presentations of 7 minutes each that set the stage, as described below:

Anita Gurumurthy, IT for Change, India, will reflect on the impacts of platformization of agriculture and service work on the livelihood prospects and economic rights of women in the global South, bringing evidence from multi-country research in this area.

Marita Wiggerthale, Oxfam Germany, will bring perspectives from food retail and agriculture in the new economy, focussing on Oxfam’s work across the world.

Karishma Banga, Overseas Development Institute, UK, will discuss her research on the gendered impacts of automation and restructuring of manufacturing in Africa and Asia.

Cecilia Alemany, Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era, Uruguay/Fiji, will discuss how AI-led transformation of work impacts women, and share the innovative AI governance guiding principles from Latin America.

The moderator will then open up the floor for a Q & A and open discussion on these issues and also invite participant reflections on the intersections between women’s empowerment and digital policy frameworks (15 to 20 minutes).

The second round will open with a 7-minute presentation from Saskia Esken, Member of the Bundestag, Germany, who will bring to the table insights from her work in the Digital Agenda Committee of the German Parliament. She will talk about why Internet policy is not a niche issue and how it connects with the goals of social and gender policy.

Responses will be invited from the floor for a duration of about 10 minutes.

Following this, the 4 speakers from Round 1 will take about 3 minutes each to make closing remarks. They will compare and contrast the German experience with the policy context of Asia, Africa and Latin America, identifying the multi-stakeholder action necessary to promote global to local policies that further the inclusion of women in the digital economy.

The moderator will wrap up the session in the last 2 minutes.

Expected Outcomes: (a) To identify the building blocks of a context-appropriate, evidence-based policy agenda for promoting gender-inclusive digital economies in the global South.
(b) To delineate action points for multi-stakeholder intervention towards global, regional and national policies that further women’s economic rights in the digital paradigm.

Onsite Moderator: 

Patrick Ruether, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group

Online Moderator: 

Damien Gock, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group


Karishma Banga, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Discussion Facilitation: 

The panel presentations are broken into two crisp rounds, each of which will be followed by discussion time. The moderator will encourage not just clarificatory questions but also reflective comments on the issues discussed. Questions raised by remote participants will be flagged by the online moderator during discussion time.

Online Participation: 

The online moderator will invite questions and comments from remote participants during both the discussion rounds and make sure their viewpoints are represented on the floor.

Proposed Additional Tools: Twitter thread on key messages from panels; pre-workshop discussions on Twitter inviting public engagement on the issue of women's digital inclusion


GOAL 1: No Poverty
GOAL 5: Gender Equality
GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
GOAL 10: Reduced Inequalities
GOAL 17: Partnerships for the Goals