Girls in ICT Day

Girls in ICT Day

Today as we celebrate Girls in ICT Day, the USTTI is thrilled to announce our partnership with the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs’, Providing Opportunities for Women’s Economic Rise (POWER) initiative and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Development Sector to conduct a series of programs that will address best practices to connect the unconnected and bridge the divides that affect women and girls.

Through this partnership the USTTI will host a webinar series that will facilitate an exchange of knowledge and lessons learned from regulators, policymakers, service providers, entrepreneurs and other stakeholders who are working towards increasing connectivity and improving digital inclusion, including in developing countries.  Beginning in July these sessions for current and aspiring female leaders, regulators, entrepreneurs and early to mid-career professionals in the ICT sector, who have strong interest in inclusive digital economic development, will serve to empower new voices and capture diverse ideas to help tackle these challenges and work towards universal connectivity.

On average, according to ITU’s 2019 Measuring Digital Development report, 52 percent of women remain totally offline, compared with 42 percent of men.  Moreover, in the world’s poorest nations, women’s access to technology is much more limited. A recent report by the UN-ITU EQUALS Access Coalition indicates that in the world’s least-developed countries, women are 33 percent less likely to have Internet access than their male counterparts.

Closing these digital divides and connecting the unconnected is an essential component in supporting global economic recovery and accelerating progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals.  In the wake of COVID-19 and the increased visibility around the importance of broadband, it is an opportune time to assess the progress already made in expanding access to and adoption of broadband infrastructure and services. This moment also provides an opportunity to identify and deliver concrete actions to connect the unconnected.

Webinar Training Overview

Technologies, Strategies and Policies to Connect the Unconnected:  Empowering Women Leaders to Bridge Digital Divides and Promote Inclusive Connectivity

How can regulators, policymakers and other stakeholders best leverage the current momentum and spotlight on connectivity to close digital divides, including the gender digital divide?  What tools and research are available to help quantify or identify digital divides and gaps in broadband deployment and adoption? What best practices have been identified to promote deployment of open, secure, interoperable broadband connectivity and increase digital inclusion?  What new and emerging technologies and approaches may help bring affordable solutions to rural and remote areas?  What policy and regulatory innovations are being deployed to reduce barriers to infrastructure development and incentivize investment to increase connectivity?  What are examples of projects and programs being implemented to improve digital skills and digital inclusion, with a focus on women and girls?   These modules will include presentations and instruction from a panel of diverse experts, and will also seek to foster an interactive dialogue to help capture experiences and lessons learned and identify new and innovative solutions.

Session 1:  Identifying Gaps to support Data Driven Policymaking

What are some tools that countries and organizations have used to help better identify connectivity gaps and digital divides?  How can regulators and policymakers best incorporate data-driven policy approaches and stakeholder engagement to identify challenges and potential solutions for increasing broadband infrastructure development and adoption to connect the unconnected and promoting digital inclusion?  What are some approaches to support broadband coverage and usage mapping to ensure that policies are reaching those most in need?

Session 2: Rural Connectivity – Technology and Policy Approaches

Rural and remote areas are often hardest to reach due to costs and return on investment for deploying infrastructure and providing services.  What are some of the emerging technologies and deployment approaches that can help bridge this divide? What are some examples of entrepreneurs and innovators working to build skills and deploy services in rural and remote areas, including women-led programs and businesses?  What policy frameworks for spectrum, infrastructure, and universal service reform have been most successful in stimulating investment and increased connectivity particularly in rural and remote areas?

Session 3: Stimulating Demand – Promoting Digital Inclusion

Broadband access is not the only barrier to connectivity.  How can policymakers and other stakeholders address divides that persist among disadvantaged groups, including women and girls, rural, poor, persons with disabilities, indigenous communities, elderly, etc.  What demand-side policies can help encourage more widespread and inclusive broadband adoption, such as reducing adoption costs or increasing the expected benefits of targeted populations?  What are examples of successful programs, particularly in developing countries, to increase digital skills and literacy among under-represented populations?   How can increasing connectivity for government programs, hospitals, and schools – “reducing the homework gap” – promote increased adoption?

Session 4: Mobilizing Resources – Reducing Barriers to Investment, Promoting Public-Private Partnerships, and Innovating Universal Service

This session will focus on mobilizing partnerships, funding, and financing to help stimulate investment in broadband infrastructure development and promote digital inclusion.  It will seek to provide best practices to reducing barriers to investment in broadband infrastructure, identify ways in which universal service funds could be leveraged in innovative ways to promote public-private financing of universal broadband access, and other approaches for sustainable financing and investment models for network development and deployment.  The discussion will also seek to share experiences from successful partnerships for promoting digital inclusion, including programs that focus on increasing broadband adoption by women and girls.

About the U.S. State Department POWER and ITU Development Sector/UN EQUALS Partnership

This training is being conducted under the auspices of the USTTI through a partnership between the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs’ Providing Opportunities for Women’s Economic Rise (POWER) initiative and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Development Sector with an aim to close the gender digital divide by 2030.  The ITU’s Global Partnership for Gender Equality in the Digital Age, or “EQUALS,” works to address the urgent need to ensure women have equal opportunities in the digital economy through cooperation around the world.  This partnership seeks to transform women’s digital economic empowerment through advocacy, skills development, and the promotion of career advancement by working with the private sector to boost leadership opportunities and entrepreneurship activities for women in the information and communications technology industry.


EQUALS was founded in 2016 by ITU, the United Nations University (UNU), UN Women, GSMA and International Trade Center. To maximize impact, the partnership is organized into coalitions focusing on access, skills, leadership (in SMEs and the tech sector), and cross-cutting, evidence-based research.