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

Gender Equality and e-Skills Gap


Improving the Digital Competency of Women for Advancement in the Workforce

Gender Equality is not possible without the economic empowerment of women. For women to be economically empowered, they must join the digital revolution. The world has reached a point where digital literacy is fundamental for finding a job. In future, ninety percent of jobs will demand digital skills. The ICT sector is growing.  There is a shortage of skills and diversity in the global workforce. The Digital Agenda for Europe estimates that by 2020 there will be a skills deficit that equates to almost a million unfilled jobs. The huge e-skills gap is a barrier to access existing roles in the ICT sector.

According to a Web Foundation report, less than 50% of women use the Internet to empower themselves, even in areas with access. According to the Council of European Professional Informatics Society, only 20 percent of the 2.7 million people working in the ICT sector are women. The percentage is even lower in the IT sector. Women also disproportionally leave the ICT sector as they progress in their careers. The lack of female participation in technology-related studies exacerbates a pre-existing problem with labour supply shortages. Multiple studies have shown that more diverse and gender-balanced teams perform better. Given these disparities, urgent measures need to be taken to ensure the economic empowerment of women and consequently, an inclusive, diversified and welcoming work environment.

In order to boost competitiveness, productivity and employability of the workforce, we need to bridge the e-skills gap.  By updating the skills of the existing talent pool we ensure that innovation and growth can take place and access to technology translates into empowerment.

Join our discussion on bridging the e-skills gap and to further our understanding on how we can contribute to the economic empowerment of women in the digital age as well as accelerating the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Key themes we will cover:

• The role of women technologists and local community leaders in bridging the gender e-skills gap
• Case study: the impact of The Code to Change programme on reintegrating women into the workforce
• Bridging the e-skills gap through mentoring to enable women to access opportunities in the ICT sector
• How a multi-stakeholder approach can contribute to better solutions for digital inclusion and women’s economic empowerment
• The role of the technology industry in bridging the gender digital divide
• The policy makers’ perspective on barriers to the empowerment of women in the digital age



Ms. Iffat Gill Founder/CEO, ChunriChoupaal-The Code to Change, Pakistan/Netherlands

Speakers / panellists
  • Ms. Mine Ogura, CIO, The Code to Change; Marktplaats (eBay Classifieds Group NL) Head of Delivery, Netherlands
  • Ms. Monique Morrow, The Internet of Women; CTO — Evangelist New Frontiers Development & Engineering at Cisco, Switzerland
  • Ms. Ritu Sharma, CEO & Co-Founder, SDG Nexus, United States
  • Ms. Claudia Vicol, Mentoring Lead, The Code to Change; Senior Back-End Developer, Marktplaats, Netherlands
  • Ms. Terry Reintke, Member European Parliament, Brussels, Belgium

The participants will have ample time to give input and have a discussion with the panelists.

Link to WSIS Action Lines
  • C3. Access to information and knowledge
  • C4. Capacity building
  • C5. Building confidence and security in the use of ICTs
  • C6. Enabling environment
  • C7. ICT Applications: E-learning
  1. We will discuss the importance of quality access to quality content to improve lives through building e-skills.
  2. We are building the capacity of women through e-skills bootcamp and mentoring program to enable access to economic and financial independence.
  3. Our trainings are largely based on women over 30 to get comfortable with using technology and to explore careers in ICT through learning new skills.
  4. Our work is based on online mentoring and our beneficiaries are working on creating apps and tools to improve life.
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
  • Goal 8: Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all
  • Goal 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries
  1. Our work focuses on bringing digital skills for jobs and quality education opportunities to under-represented groups of the society.
  2. We work on gender equality through digital inclusion of women.
  3. We advocate for equality at workplace, especially in the technology sector where bulk of the jobs exist.  Equality, inclusion and diversity are the core of our work with women.
  4. We are working with under-represented and under-privileged communities through providing them with digital skills for jobs to improve their lives.
Session 178
  • Monday, 14:30 – 16:15
  • Popov Room 1, ITU Tower
  • Thematic Workshop

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