We are excited and honoured to share the news that we have won the 2016 ITU-UN Women GEM-TECH Award for our work to develop gender-responsive ICT governance, policy and access. Web Foundation CEO Anne Jellema accepted the award today at a ceremony in Bangkok, Thailand, where the ITU is currently hosting its 2016 Telecom World event.
As we noted in our earlier blog about the nomination, the award specifically recognises our work to promote women’s internet access and online empowerment through the Alliance for Affordable Internet and our Women’s Rights Online initiative. At the Web Foundation, our belief in the power of the web to create a more equal world drives our work to achieve full digital inclusion and equality. From the inaugural Africa Summit on Women and Girls in Technology to our first-ever TechMousso gender data competition, the past year has been a busy one, working to bring our research and evidence-based advocacy calls to centre stage.
We’re proud of the work that A4AI, Women’s Rights Online, and all of our other programmes have done — and continue to do — to ensure that digital equality issues are at the core of policy discourse across the globe, and that a wide range of stakeholders are equipped to participate in policy dialogues. But, we know that a long path to digital equality lies ahead. A majority of the over four billion people still offline today are women, and recent ITU data shows that the gender digital divide is growing wider — particularly in the world’s Least Developed Countries, which show a 31% gap between men’s and women’s internet use.
While this news is disheartening, the good news is that we know the key obstacles to women’s internet access and use, and remain confident that these issues — namely, affordability and lack of digital skills — can be tackled through smart policy reform. Looking ahead, we will:
- Continue our existing efforts to increase the number of gender-responsive policies across the globe, as well as our work to equip women with the confidence and opportunity to feed into the policy design process.
- Strengthen our work to REACT to the policy failures that have kept women offline and marginalised, with a focus on incorporating Rights, Education, Affordable access, Content, and Targets into policy design.
- Launch a multi-country, bottom-up campaign to close the digital gender gap, working with partners around the world to ensure that women are able to overcome the affordability and skills barriers to access, and that they can take full advantage of the vast opportunities offered through full digital inclusion.
We are grateful to the ITU and UN Women for this recognition, and for their support — and the support of all of our partners — in our work across the Foundation. Our progress to date — and what we’re setting out to accomplish in the years ahead — would be impossible without the dedicated and passionate support of so many partners around the globe. This award is yours to share, and we look forward to continuing our important work together.