International Women’s Day, 2023Unlocking our region’s most untapped potential: harnessing the digital age to empower women and girls


  • Opinion by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana (bangkok, thailand)
  • Inter Press Service

This year’s International Women’s Day theme, “DigitALL: Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality,” seeks to answer just that question.

We know that women and girls use the internet or have a smartphone less often than men and boys. In fact, only 54 percent of women in Asia and the Pacific have digital access, cut off from opportunities to advance digital needles.

The root causes are many and varied: entrenched discriminatory social norms, increased gender-based violence (including online violence), and the unequal distribution of unpaid care and domestic work. Addressing these barriers to women realizing their full potential requires our collective and immediate attention and response.

One child, one teacher, one pen

When and where women and girls are discouraged from studying and working in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) fields, we let them down. And we left behind a whole generation of women and girls. We need the talents and voices of women and girls brought into the boardrooms and coding rooms.

Today, many innovations in AI, medicine, entertainment, transportation, work and other fields treat men as the norm and ignore women’s physical and social differences – to the detriment of half the world’s population.

Getting more women into tech careers starts with breaking the gender stereotypes that keep girls from taking STEM subjects. Significant changes are needed in the way STEM subjects are taught and targeted programs are needed to support girls’ learning.

In Vietnam, the Ministry of Education and Training updated the country’s national early childhood education curriculum to “de-stereotype” women and girls and incorporated gender-sensitive budgeting into the education sector plan. Changes like these allow governments to fuel girls’ enthusiasm for technology, expanding the future digital workforce.

Using technology to support female entrepreneurs

Women entrepreneurs play a key role in emerging economies. Supporting them in starting and growing businesses through technology will lead to more sustainable and inclusive economic growth. Women have historically struggled to access capital because they are less aware of funding opportunities.

They are less likely to own land or provide large savings as collateral and are not included in traditional financial networks. Technological innovations provide the opportunity to connect women entrepreneurs across the region with new financing models that meet their specific needs.

The Catalyzing Women’s Entrepreneurship project of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) has released nearly $65 million in capital to support female entrepreneurs in several countries.

By identifying and supporting a number of experimental technology-driven business models, the project has supported women-led micro, small and medium-sized enterprises through a range of technology solutions such as payment platforms, online marketplaces, accounting and inventory management.

Empowering women to become drivers of inclusive innovation

If we link the untapped potential of women and girls to contribute to our common future with the potential of the innovations of digitalisation, science and technology, we may well have cracked the code to overcome many of the inequalities and injustices created by previous generations. created to rectify.

Women have the know-how to harness technology and innovation. Given equal opportunities, they will flourish and contribute to creative solutions to address the world’s multifaceted challenges.

Women leaders in Asia and the Pacific are already using technology to address inequality and gender-based violence. Founded by Virginia Tan, Rhea See and Leanne Robers, She likes technologyheadquartered in Singapore, hosts the world’s largest women and technology start-up competition and aims to mobilize more than USD 1 billion in capital for women-led companies by 2030.

Safety is a people mapping platform to share experiences of sexual harassment in public spaces and empowers communities to identify problems and work towards solutions. The platform was launched by three women, including current leader Elsa Marie D’Silva, in response to incidents of gender-based violence in the region.

“We can all do our part to unleash our world’s vast untapped talent – ​​starting with filling classrooms, laboratories and boardrooms with women scientists,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres recently. Indeed, we need women in leadership positions in all science and technology spaces to accelerate inclusive innovation.

Let’s work together on our dream to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. What better way to do this than to use innovations and new technologies to overcome inequalities in the digital age?

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© Inter Press Service (2023) — All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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