Batapa-Sigue Highlights Partnerships for Women Advancement in ICT

Strengthening Women`s Empowerment and Leadership in the ITU Plenipotentiary 2022

High-level Panel and Networking BreakfastFriday, 30 September 2022, 08:00-09:00AM Bucharest, Romania

DICT Undersecretary Jocelle Batapa Sigue joins high-level panel and networking breakfast on 30 September to discuss strengthening women’s empowerment and leadership at ITU. Credit: ITU/D. Woldu

September 30, 2022 began with a women’s high-level networking breakfast jointly organized by host country Romania, ITU, and Australia, which provided financial support and training for more than 100 women to take on leadership roles at the Plenipotentiary Conference (PP-22) of the UN specialized agency for information and communication technologies (ICTs). (ITU)

“This is a historic breakfast, because yesterday we elected the first woman Secretary-General of ITU,” said outgoing Secretary-General Houlin Zhao, who is also an International Gender Champion. “This is important not only for ITU, but for the whole business of ICT everywhere.”

Here are some excerpts from the sharing of Undersecretary Jocelle Batapa-Sigue: With women comprising 54.5 percent of our total population, the Philippines has consistently placed in the 19th spot out of 149 countries in the Global Gender Gap Report 2022 of the World Economic Forum. We have a 99.7 percent literacy rate for our female population ranks 16th in economic participation and opportunity. These numbers show the potential of our women population to benefit from the opportunities of the digital age.

Six years ago, the Philippine Congress established by law a dedicated department for information and communications technology with attached agencies for cybersecurity, telecommunications, and data privacy to fully embraced digitalization as both a clear policy direction and a strategic goal to move the country forward.  In the centerpiece is the conscious and deliberate effort to be gender inclusive in all our strategic thrusts as a nation which fully recognizes the role of women in nation building.

Aside from ensuring connectivity and digital infrastructure, department for ICT or the DICT was tasked to promote industry development to generate digital jobs, skill and upskill Filipinos on digital knowledge, and ensure inclusive and balanced growth down to the countryside.

I head the industry development and digital skills bureau of the department where we focus on creating more opportunities for women and girls.  

Every March of each year, our country marks the celebration of women’s month by undertaking various programs focused on equipping women with knowledge, skills, and experience to thrive in the Digital Age and to become change agents of society.

The presence of a significant number of women in the so-called gid economy is also harnessed by our department. With over 4 million online freelancers, the department partners with various women freelancing communities for many years. Trainings and advocacies to promote rural impact sourcing and freelancing became important as we work to improve the number of women who are gainfully employed.

Our department also actively partners with various stakeholders through different programs. One such example is the Philippine Women in Blockchain program, where women business leaders from various companies advocate, promote, and train women about blockchain technologies and use cases.

Another massive skilling program is through our over 1000 Tech4Ed Centers around the country – partnering with local government units and benefactors to scale digital skilling for women per sector basis. Such as women farmers, fisherfolks, small and medium entrepreneurs, or even women in disadvantaged situation. The Tch4Ed centers identify beneficiaries for various skilling programs depending on the requirements of enterprises.

Overall the department has a gender and development focal person to handle the initiatives in relation to women and girls in ICT.

Before coming here and before being appointed as deputy minister for ICT – I was already a big fan of the ITU as a countryside digital advocate – one particular program I join is the ITU Academy and there I learned and realized that the cause of the digital divide is the innovation divide

As a policy recommendation – we need to integrate gender and development in all avenues of innovation initiatives.   as new deputy minister in charge of non-technology and connectivity issues – but of innovation – I am responsible for laying down policies, upskilling our workforce, and create jobs and

Hence today marks the beginning of a stronger and wider chance for Filipino women to really help our country – I launched DIWA – Digital Innovation for Women Advancement – DIWA means spirit, culture, mindset.

BACKGROUND (From ITU)

Technology is revolutionizing and redefining the way we live, yet women are currently under-represented in telecommunication/ICT design, development, and governance. While progress has been made, the meaningful and effective participation of women and girls in field of telecommunications/ICTs, from decision-making to implementation, as well as the integration and mainstreaming of gender equality continues to be a major challenge.

The ITU Plenipotentiary Conference 2022 (PP-22) will be the first gender-responsive Plenipotentiary. The ITU aims to reach the target of at least 35% of women participants, up from to 22% of women participants at PP-14, and 29% at PP-18.

Participation goes beyond numerical representation – it is about the extent to which women are empowered to actively engage and influence outcomes. This is why the ITU, with Australia’s support, has developed and delivered a training programme to prepare women delegates to take an active role in PP-22 and beyond.

Over 100 women delegates benefited from the training. The training, underscored by the need to advance gender equality and the empowerment of women in the telecommunications/ICTs field, focused on bolstering the capacity of women delegates to meaningfully engage in the activities of the ITU including the Plenipotentiary Conference.

This High-level Panel and Networking Breakfast will bring together women VVIPs/VIPs representing the 6 ITU regions, the trainees, and those committed to bridging the gender digital divide to highlight the importance of advancing women’s leadership in telecommunications/ICTs, as well as in the work of the ITU.

By bringing together women leaders and delegates to share experiences, this hallmark gender equality event at PP-22 aims to foster global women’s networks, to inspire current and future generations of women leaders in telecommunications/ICTs and to build an inclusive world.

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