WSIS Forum 2017 will be held from 12–16 June 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland. More info.

Harnessing ICTs for Greater Access to Education for Girls and Women

Graduate Women International

Exploring the potential of ICTs in accelerating uptake and access to education, training and knowledge for girls and women, to foster their empowerment and potential in all aspects of development

Women’s empowerment is a prerequisite for achievement of the Sustainable Development Agenda for 2030 on all areas of social and economic progress. In some areas of the world, barriers to girls’ completion of education, particularly at secondary level, are hindering progress. These barriers include early marriage, teenage pregnancy, gender stereotypes, cultural prejudice, and responsibility for domestic duties and caregiving. Addressing barriers to girls’ and women’s education, enabling them to complete secondary school and transition to further education or work, has economic and social benefits for the individual, their family and for the nation as a whole.

Programmes which complement traditional education can open up the space for girls to discuss these barriers to their education and consider the choices they have in their personal and professional development. Technology is needed to scale up such a programme and reach a wider number of girls, to provide a vital tool with insights into their personal and professional choices. Such technology can empower girls to understand the implications of their choices and support them to complete school. In Rwanda, GWI is working with Orange Device Group to develop the Girls’ Choices Mobile App, a mobile application (app) that provides immediate, easy access to material empowering girls to explore possibilities in their lives beyond school. The app is initially being developed with content driven by a focus group of teenage girls in Kigali, Rwanda, with the scope for replicability in other countries. GWI will explore partnerships to further disseminate the app, beyond smartphones, on other platforms.

Towards 2025, we envision that WSIS maintain their commitment to ensuring the access and availability of ICTs to girls and women to create access to quality education at all levels, to foster and accelerate women’s empowerment and their full participation in all aspects of society and in all decision-making processes. We advocate for WSIS mainstreaming a gender-equality perspective guaranteeing the inclusion of women in the emerging global ICT society.

Established in 1919, Graduate Women International (GWI), formerly the International Federation of University Women (IFUW), with members in over 80 countries worldwide, empowers girls and women, through access to quality secondary, tertiary and continuing education. GWI is in special consultative status with UN ECOSOC and is in official relations with UNESCO and the International Labour Organization (ILO).


Ms. Danièle Castle, Executive Director, Graduate Women International

Speakers / panellists
  • Mr Paul William Delorme, Partnership and Business Development Director, Orange Device Group;
  • Ms Isabelle Collet, Lecturer and Researcher, University of Geneva
  • Ms Rovani Sigamoney, Assistant Programme Specialist, UNESCO
Link to WSIS Action Lines
  • C3. Access to information and knowledge
  • C5. Building confidence and security in the use of ICTs
  • C7. ICT Applications: E-learning
  • C11. International and regional cooperation

Harnessing ICTs for greater access to education for women and girls integrates four different WSIS action lines. The panel will explore the potential outreach and acceleration of education up to the highest levels to girls and women through ICTs, fostering a rights-based, gender equal approach to access to information and knowledge (C3). GWI and partner Orange Device Group will present their joint initiative the Girls’ Choices Mobile App e-learning application (C7) currently being developed in Rwanda, and its goal to provide fun, accessible information to teenage girls on life choices. This app aims to empower girls concerning education and employment possibilities, and will also establish safe online practices with the girls and their surrounding community (C5). GWI is in special consultative status with UN ECOSOC and is in official relations UNESCO and the International Labour Organization (ILO), and works closely with its membership in over 80 countries, to establish mutual co-operation and achieve success on international and local advocacy issues (C11). 

Link to the Sustainable Development Process
  • Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
  • Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

The session seeks to explore some of the possibilities that ICTs can bring in breaking down socially and culturally limiting barriers for girls and women, and increase their access to education and knowledge.  GWI sees empowerment of women and girls through education as critical to achievement of the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030, and progression towards a more just and prosperous society for all.  The session links with all Goal 4 education targets and in particular Goal 5, target 5.b: Enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology, to promote the empowerment of women.

Formal and non-formal education can both be enhanced through digital literacy and access to the online community through ICTs. In traditional classroom-based education it can benefit teachers and students: as a research tool, a presentation tool, and a knowledge management tool. In non-formal education, such as the Girls’ Choices Mobile App this session will present, ICTs can be used in innovative ways to share empowering information with an online community.  ICTs as a tool for bridging communities can bring education to marginalised girls and women and enables more inclusive information and communication flows, promoting women’s health, economic potential and public- political participation. 

WSIS Forum 2016 | WSIS Action Lines: Supporting the Implementation of SDGs
2–6 May 2016, International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Place des Nations, 1211 Geneva, Switzerland