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Partners launch action plan to close digital gender gap

Women’s participation in digital society integral to achieving Agenda 2030

New York, 15 December 2015 – An ‘Action Plan to Close the Digital Gender Gap’ was launched today at a side event on “Women's Empowerment in the Digital Age” during the High-Level Meeting of the World Summit of the Information Society currently taking place in New York (WSIS+10). It was co-organized by ITU and the governments of Costa Rica, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia and the United States, together with UN Women, Microsoft, Mozilla and the Association for Progressive Communication.

The Action Plan sets out a framework for critical actions to foster and accelerate inclusive and sustainable development by closing the digital gender gap and harness the transformative potential of ICTs for women’s empowerment. Women’s equal and meaningful participation in the digital society is seen as both integral to the realization of women’s rights in the 21st century, as well as the realization of a just, inclusive and rights-based information society aimed at achieving global objectives around gender equality and women’s empowerment by 2030.

The WSIS+10 Outcome documents places a specific emphasis on the digital gender divide and voices concern that only 41 per cent of women have Internet access. These factors persist in denying access to ICTs as well as to ICT education, employment and other economic and social development opportunities. Additionally, the Outcome documents state that ending the gender digital divide and achievement of gender equality (SDG-5) are mutually reinforcing efforts, and commits to mainstream gender in the WSIS process.

“The Action Plan launched today at ITU’s side event is a concrete step towards achieving gender equality among Internet users by 2020,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. “This will significantly enhance women’s and girls’ education and participation in ICTs as users, content creators employees, entrepreneurs, innovators, and leaders.”

The Action Plan to Close the Gender Gap focuses on key areas:

  1. Develop gender responsive strategies and policies
  2. Ensure access to ICTs by women and girls and mitigating or responding the threats online that hinder women’s access to and use of technology
  3. Build digital capacities of girls and women and support development of content, applications and services that meet women’s needs
  4. Promoting women in the technology sector, including into positions of decision-making
  5. Establish multi-stakeholder partnerships to advance women's empowerment within the Information Society and strengthen international cooperation

Note: the archived webcast of the special #WSIS10 session can be accessed here.

For more information, please contact

Paul Conneally
Head, Corporate Communications, ITU
telephone +41 22 730 5601
mobile +41 79 5925668
email paul.conneally@itu.int 

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