A United Nations Political Forum on Sustainable Development is in full swing to track progress on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals formally adopted two years ago.
Goal No. 5 aims to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls and calls for enhanced use of enabling technology to promote the empowerment of women.
While women make up more than 50 percent of the world’s population, they also represent 70 percent of the world’s poor. Yet, research shows women reinvest 80 percent of every dollar made back into their families which, according to the International Chamber of Commerce, means practical support for the economic empowerment of women is a critical step towards ending poverty and promoting prosperity.
What ICT does for gender equality
The Internet is a great enabler, creating unprecedented opportunities for female entrepreneurs to enter global markets for the first time. ICT provides opportunities to boost small business growth by establishing an international, level-playing field that enables all businesses, regardless of size, location or sector, to compete on an equal footing in global markets.
Programs developed through partnerships can open opportunities ICT can offer, by boosting skills and providing women with digital devices and training that helps women teach their communities how to make the most of these tools.
ICT can give women access to basic needs such as healthcare and education. The private sector plays a pivotal role in investing in community-oriented training, deploying infrastructure and delivering a wide range of ICT services to meet these needs.
Women are currently less likely than men to use or own digital technologies, with gaps larger among youth and those over 45 years old. ICT improves efficiency, enhances coordination and improves the quality of information gathered and shared for development planning. For countries to leverage ICT to promote the empowerment of women, governments need to be well-informed about how the ICT ecosystem works in practice, the barriers to access and how challenges can be overcome.