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Kapihan sa Manila Bay

Cafe Adriatico in Remedios Circle, Malate

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.

In the Philippines, 52 million Filipinos, including a significant number of women, living in areas already covered by mobile broadband do not use mobile internet, according to the GSMA. 


Among the barriers faced by women are handset and data cost, limited access to networks and electricity, and safety and security concerns. 

For women micro-entrepreneurs, among the barriers to further growth include slow or no internet connectivity, especially in the rural areas; lack of awareness, technical know-how, and skills in ICT; and low access to digital financing products, such as e-wallets and other banking services.

A Digital Readiness Study showed that while most have started their digital journey through social media sites, women entrepreneurs need more knowledge and skills to optimize the digital platform and convert engagement to sales.

A study by the International Finance Corp. (IFC)  also showed that women entrepreneurs could better compete if they have the necessary digital selling skills as well as access to credit. But 61 percent of women in the Philippines still do not own a bank account and were not part of the formal economy.


In the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), digital inclusion and gender equality are among the priorities. 

Luzon Bypass Infrastructure, a 240-kilometer fiber corridor connecting the western and eastern modular information technology facilities, will increase total government capacity to 2,000,000 MBPS in the next six years which is 50x the current government capacity of only 40,000 MBPS. The LBI Phase 1 is expected to reach completion in the first half of 2023.

The Free Wi-Fi Program (BroadBand ng Masa) provides broadband connectivity in all parts of the country, particularly the unserved and underserved areas. 


As of December 2022, a total of 4,385 live and operational Free Wi-Fi sites covering 73 provinces and 601 cities and municipalities, including those in the geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDAs) like the provinces of Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, the remote islands of Zamboanga City, and the Pag-asa Island of the Kalayaan Group of Islands. 


For 2023, the target is to have 15,000 Free Wi-Fi sites in public places, and 100,000 sites are expected to be made operational by 2025.


The provision of free Wi-Fi is complemented by trainings to improve digital literacy, as well as the provision of tablets and solar and gas-powered generators, whichever is needed by the community. 

The DICT’s Tech4ED Centers, currently at 1,032 in different parts of the country, provide critical e-government and ICT-enabled services in communities with minimal to no access to information and government services.


The DigitalJobsPH Program is a training program that intends to increase hireability of Filipinos, especially those in the countryside.

We have the Digital Cities 2025 Program, which aims to expand the IT-BPM sector and bridge industry progress in the countryside to strengthen local economies.


These programs have helped improve the country’s IT-BPM sector, which saw an increase of 8.4% or 121,000 full-time employees in the Philippines in 2022. The industry also saw a growth of 10.3% in revenues to reach a total of $32.5 billion in 2022, surpassing the 2021 earnings of 29.5 billion.

We also have the Digital Startup Development and Acceleration Program (DSDAP), which helps cities by raising awareness and offering programs to guide and mentor enthusiasts to improve their respective startup communities.


Meanwhile, the Startup Grant Fund (SGF) will provide financial grants for new and early-stage startups relating to startup development, capacity building, and network building. It is targeted to specifically help and nurture startups by providing pre-seed to seed funding that shall make the ecosystem be more active and investable.

The DICT is also advancing E-governance. The streamlining of government services is crucial to help women micro-entrepreneurs easily access government services, including the application of necessary permits that will allow them to expand their businesses and access credit.


We have also initiated the eGov Super App, which aims to become the single application that any Filipino citizen would ever need to avail of virtually all local and national government services. We were also able to pilot launch the Integrated Local Government System (iLGU) in partnership with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to implement an end-to-end business registration with LGUs for Business Permits, Clearances, Real Property Tax, Business Tax, Civil Registry, and other permits. Pilot testing was a success and is currently being implemented to 25 Cities and Municipalities. This will remove long lines in the City and Municipal Halls and streamline citizens’ transactions with LGUs. Currently, there are around 906 LGUs that will implement the Integrated Business Permit and Licensing System or iBPLS.

To further improve women’s use and access of ICT, the DICT in collaboration with the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) conducted the Women and ICT Development Index (WIDI) Survey. This is the first-ever national survey that aims to generate indicators on how women are able to access and use ICTs. 


The survey revealed that 86% of Filipino women have access to internet and 76% use smartphones. Those who have smartphones, the most common information they searched online is relating to entertainment at 65%, followed by news (47%), health information (45%) and then communication (43%). Only 26% used it to search on education and government services, while less than 20% used it to search for employment and business opportunities.


In the area of digital economy, 55% of women purchased goods or services online, while 6% sold goods or services online. Purchasing of goods and services online is more common via mobile applications of e-commerce sites, while those who are engaged in selling goods and services online use social media as their platform.


In terms of cybersecurity and online safety, 54% of women have experienced text scams, 6% of whom were victimized; of the 7% who received hacking attempts, 32% were victimized; and of the 3% who experienced phishing attempts, 8% were victimized.

The use of digital technologies presents opportunities for the formalization and growth of enterprises. It facilitates connectivity, flexibility, and efficiency in business operations and provides a wider market for micro-entrepreneurs. But we need to level the playing field and make sure that these opportunities are equally accessible to both men and women entrepreneurs.




















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