G20 MCWE, Closing the Digital Gender Gap is a Crucial Issue Worth Fighting For

Bali (24/08) – Delegates attended the G20 Ministerial Conference on Women’s Empowerment (MCWE) in Nusa Dua, Bali underlined that joint effort to close the digital gender gap is crucial and important to fight for. Digital access for women running businesses can drive the country’s economic growth and provide greater opportunities for women to participate in new types of future jobs in science and technology.

Minister of Women and Child Development of the Republic of India, Smriti Zubin Irani said, the Government of India is trying to shift to the new paradigm, in which women can now become leaders, and not only the subjects of policies.

“The Prime Minister of India said that every woman has entrepreneurial qualities. As many as 81 per cent of loans ranging from 1 to 10 million rupees have been provided by the Government of India to women, 68 per cent of which have been utilized. The Government of India also facilitates and promotes women-run MSMEs to ensure that women has become the driving force of India,” said Irani.

Meanwhile, Senior Vice President of Social Impact, International Markets at the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth Payal Dalal said female entrepreneurs were more affected by the pandemic than men.

“During the Covid-19 pandemic that is driving digitalisation, many small businesses in India have not enjoyed the benefits of it. We conducted a study of 14,000 small businesses in India and found that only 4 per cent of women deemed themselves capable and were ready to enter the digital world. We have to act, we have to step out of the traditional model and look at all the assets, namely human resources, technology, data, and the way we can put it all together collectively. Creative and innovative ways of thinking can make a difference,” said Payal.

Attended the Conference virtually, Minister of Education, Culture and Science of the Netherlands Robbert Dijkgraaf expressed his concern about the pandemic which has posed negative impacts on women, in which their opinions and knowledge tended to be ignored and unheard. The voices of women’s groups are still under- represented in science, research, the private as well as the public sectors.

“In the absence or lack of representation and participation of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) it will further widen the gender gap in the digital realm. It is important and crucial to find ways to overcome gender stereotypes that undermine the capabilities of women and girls. In this regard, the Dutch Government has made a technology pact with schools, the private sector, workers, employers and local governments to attract more women and girls to pursue careers in STEM. The future is in STEM. This all starts with the equality in obtaining inclusive education for women. Rest assured, women and girls have tremendous potentials and competence to thrive in the STEM world,” said Robbert.

Founder and Managing Director of MicroSave Consulting Graham A.N Wright who spoke at the Conference virtually, said that various countries have practiced direct benefit transfer aimed at female internet users.

“The Government of Indonesia has an Inclusive Financial Strategy program that targeted 83 million women so that they can get a better education and create a good condition for women-run small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). Indonesia also has the Family Hope Program (PKH), a program of providing conditional social assistance to underpriviledged families eligible for beneficiaries. This program increases the number of bank account openings for the beneficiaries for the first time. However, we should be prudent for its unintended consequence, in which there will be pressure from the husbands of the beneficiaries to access the funds. But one thing we should agree that there are no restrictions on women in the digital economy,” Graham said.

On the same occasion, Cambodian Minister of Women’s Affairs Ing Kantha Phavi stated that gender equality and women’s voices are important in the world recovery.

“Our greatest asset is women. However, the data shows that there is still a large gender gap, women still bear the burden of domestic work. However, the government continues to be committed to reduce the digital gender gap by presenting policies that open up opportunities for women to work and most importantly open opportunities for women to have careers in science and technology. Since 2018, the Government of Cambodia has continued to encourage women to step into the areas of science and technology,” said Ing.

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