The Internet Society Pakistan Islamabad Chapter (PK IBD) organised a webinar on “Digital Empowerment of Women in South Asia” on 15 March, 2018. ISOC Chapter leaders, members, and staff participated in the webinar where the regional and global women-centric initiatives were shared by the speakers.
The undersigned welcomed the audience on behalf of the Internet Society Pakistan Islamabad Chapter followed by a round of introductions. Joyce Dogniez, the Internet Society’s Senior Director, Global Community Engagement, shared the importance and relevance of the UN-EQUALS partnership which is a unique collaboration between state and non-state actors to bridge the digital gender divide. Joyce shared that the Internet Society is an important part of this partnership that primarily emphasizes improving ICT access, imparting digital skills, and promoting leadership of women. Internet and digital literacy leads to economic empowerment of women that can have a profound community impact.
The next session featured updates from the Chapter Leaders of South Asia on the various initiatives being undertaken on the country and Chapter level. Sagarika Wickramasekera from the ISOC Sri Lanka Chapter informed about the initiatives of the Chapter including WomenIGF, IT trainings for girls at school level, Internet learning programmes for women entrepreneurship, etc. Sidra Jalil from the Internet Society Pakistan Islamabad Chapter provided an insight into the current situation and future opportunities for women such as the government-led Girls in ICT programme, teacher training programme by Microsoft, women entrepreneur quota by national incubation centers, etc. in Pakistan. Amrita Choudhury from the ISOC India Delhi Chapter stated that the government of India and civil society have launched many initiatives for digital literacy, skill development, and financial inclusion such as the Sarvasikhshya Abhiyaan, Beti Padhao Beti Bachao, Digital India, Project Gyaan, Self‐Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), Swayam Krishi Sangam, etc. Sneha Tambe from the ISOC India Mumbai Chapter informed that the Chapter organized several seminars related to digital entrepreneurship, FinTech, application development, and the Marathi Wikipedia session for digital empowerment of women.
Subhashish Panigrahi, Chapter Development Manager for ISOC Asia-Pacific moderated the open session where the participants shared their perspective on the topic. The session recognized the need for collaborative efforts and sub-regional harmony to utilize the potential of the Internet for sustainable social, economic, and political empowerment of women in South Asia.
In her closing remarks, Agustina Callegari, the Internet Society’s Manager Global Engagement, shared that the insights from the webinar provided a profound overview of the regional efforts. She introduced the SIG Women initiative which aims to promote and support the women-centric digital initiatives around the globe. SIG Women organized a global tweet chat on International Women’s Day and encouraged the participants to join the initiative.