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DigiALL – Digital Innovation for Women Advancement, Diversity and Gender Equality

via Zoom

Good afternoon everyone. Foremost, I would like to thank the USAID BEACON and GSMA for partnering with the DICT for the conduct of this webinar to highlight the importance of inclusive digital transformation in ensuring accessible, non-discriminatory, and cybersafe digital quality of life.


Last March 6-17, the 67th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women gathered representatives of Member States, UN entities and non-governmental organizations for the first in-person session since the pandemic. The Philippine Delegation was composed of representatives from several government agencies, including the DICT, considering the priority theme on innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age. The DICT was represented by myself and Head Executive Assistant Nicole Uy. 


The UN CSW67 focused on the need for urgent action to close the major gender gap in innovation and technology, which can undo years of progress we have made to forward gender equality.


According to UN Women, the digital divide has become the new face of gender inequality. Global figures show that women are 18% less likely than men to own a smartphone, and far less likely to access or use the Internet. Last year, 259 million more men than women were online. 


In the technology sector, women occupy fewer positions, face a gender pay gap of 21%, and nearly half of all women working in technology have experienced workplace harassment.


UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres emphasized that “Gender inequality is a question of power.” He called for urgent action to equalize power in three ways for women and girls—first is to increase their education; second, promote their full participation and leadership in STEM; and third, create a safe digital environment for them.


The Philippine Delegation shared efforts and challenges in innovation and digitalization. The DICT, in particular, shared the Department’s good practices in addressing barriers to bridge the gender digital divide and promote education in the digital age for achieving gender equality. At the ministerial roundtable, we shared how existing Philippine laws on women’s rights create an enabling environment where women’s and girls’ rights and safety are promoted and protected to allow them to achieve their full potential. We conveyed the programs of the DICT to promote digital inclusion—such as the Free Wi-Fi for All Program, Tech4Ed Centers, DigitalJobsPH, Digital Cities 2025 Program, and the Digital Innovation for Women Advancement (DIWA) Program. We also presented highlights of the DICT’s Women and ICT Development Index (WIDI) survey and how we intend to use the survey results to further improve our programs to ensure digital gender equality.


In a side event led by the GSMA, we shared how the government empowers women micro-entrepreneurs in the digital economy. 


Meanwhile, Head Executive Assistant Nicole Uy, who was the Philippine delegation’s youth representative in the interactive dialogue with youth on priority theme, emphasized that the youth are in a unique position to benefit from innovation and technological advancements.


In the cybersafe side event organized by the Philippine delegation, we emphasized how access to right information will empower women and girls to make well-informed decisions, and we heard good practices to combat the spread of fake news and to ensure safe and secure digital spaces for women and girls. 


Member States adopted the agreed conclusions that summarizes commitments to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment through innovation and technological change, and education in the digital age.


Finally, I am pleased to share with all of you the Philippines’ chairmanship of the CSW68 in 2024. The priority theme of CSW68 is accelerating the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls by addressing poverty and strengthening institutions and financing with a gender perspective. It is thus a crucial year for us to really push for digital gender equality to strongly affirm our commitment to pursue gender equality in all aspects of the development process.


In closing, I wish to emphasize that bridging the digital gender divide is a requisite of gender equality. The existing laws and policies on women will help us forward this cause. But we cannot do this alone. When we talk about women’s rights, we also have to open the dialogue about how men can play a role in this cause; men need to be engaged in the fight for gender equality. We need male leaders who stand with women, and female leaders who uplift their fellow women. We need not only a whole-of-government approach, but also a whole-of-society approach to bridge the digital gender gap, promote digital inclusion, and achieve gender equality and inclusive development.


Thank you.

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