Digital Innovation for Women Advancement (DIWA) Launched

The active and increased involvement of Filipino women in information and communications technology will greatly advance the Philippines’ aim to building an inclusive and sustainable digital future.

This is the what the Office of the Undersecretary for ICT Industry Development (OUIID) under the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) aims to empower as it launched nationwide the Digital Innovation for Women Advancement (DIWA).

“We always say ‘mahal natin ang Pilipinas, sa puso, sa isip, sa diwa, sa salita, at sa gawa’. But for me, the most important is really sa ‘diwa’ (We always say we love the Philippines in heart, in mind, in spirit, in words, and in deeds) . But for me, the most important is really diwa (spirit),” Undersecretary for ICT Industry Development Atty. Jocelle Batapa-Sigue said as she shared how the idea of DIWA came to life.

DIWA aims to harness the role of ICTs to advance gender equality and empower women to actively participate in building an inclusive and sustainable digital future. It is one of the DICT’s initiative pursuant to the Philippines’ commitment to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) as a council member. The ITU, the United Nations body founded in 1856 for telecommunications and ICT elected its first women leader, Doreen Bogdan-Martin in Bucharest last October 2022.

The project was first proposed by Batapa-Sigue during the 2022 Plenipotentiary Conference of ITU at Bucharest, Romania. It is in line with the ITU’s goal to become a model organization for gender equality using ICT to empower women.

Supportive of gender inclusion, DICT Secretary Ivan John Uy approved the project and the introduction of DIWA in a round table discussion as a part of the National ICT Confederation of the Philippines Summit held in Tagbilaran City, Bohol last November 18, 2022.

On December 12, 2022, DICT officially launched DIWA via Zoom where digital leaders were invited to share their learnings about big data and data science from their international fellowships.

According to Batapa-Sigue, the logo of DIWA “represents the power of a woman to connect, to inspire, and to uplift the voices of her fellow women specially in the information and communications industry. The color, which is magenta, represents compassion and women empowerment and the nurturing spirit of a women who is a mother, sister, a wife, a friend to every Filipino.”

Batapa-Sigue said the letter ‘I” in DIWA represents “the woman lifting her hands upwards as sign of praise to the heaven and its circle symbolizes the ability of woman to connect, take the lead, to uplift the voices of her fellow women and also men to ensure equality, gender inclusiveness, to push their limits and create a space, wide space that will allow us all women to expand our opportunities.”

“It is the goal of DIWA to serve as a platform for all of us to come together,” Batapa-Sigue added.

The speakers include Evamay Dela Rosa, Regional Director of DICT Region XI, Alana Ramos, Division Chief, Plans and Policy, Monitoring and Evaluation, DICT-NIPPSB, and Frei Sangil, CEO, LayerTech. Two other empowered women from DICT joined in the National Launch of DIW, namely, Maria Teresa Camba, Assistant Secretary for Countryside Development, and Emmy Lou Delfin, Director for ICT Industry Development Bureau.

The three speakers were able to share their learnings from South Korea, Indonesia, and United States.

Dela Rosa finished her studies in Computer Science in AMA Computer College. She earned her master of Science in Information Technology major in IT Management from the Carnegie Mellon University, Adelaide City, Australia. She is also a certified IT Infrastructure Librarian (ITIL).

She was an associate professor of the University of Mindanao where she taught software engineering, systems analysis and design, IT project Management and Visual Basic programming. In 2012, she managed the Philippine-wide network, hardware and software, as well as process streamlining requirements on a private company in Davao City. Also, she concurrently holds the position of Functional Manager for IT projects of Dairy Farm International in Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Singapore, Manager for Project Management and Team Lead for Internal Audit  of Jardine Direct Company Inc.

Her vocation in using ICT as an effective mode in delivering government services and opportunities enabled her to enter in the public service. In 2015, she served as a Cluster Director of then Information and Communications Technology Office, Mindanao Cluster 2 (covers Region 10 and CARAGA). In 2021, she became an OIC Director of the Management Information Systems Service (MISS) in the DICT Central Office where she administered the development, operations, and maintenance of different internal systems of the Department as well as network and internal systems security strengthening.

As the current Regional Director of DICT-Region 11, she oversee the management direction on the development and implementation of strategic ICT programs and projects in the Davao region; leads in the establishment and maintenance of strategic linkages with ICT partners, key players and stakeholders in the region; and manages the overall operations of the Regional Office and ensure that all programs, activities and projects are in aligned with the Department’s development plans.

“We can scale open data hackathons for women developers like South Korea,” Batapa-Sigue said on Dela Rosa’s presentation regarding her topic: Learning from South Korea; Harnessing Big Data & Artificial Intelligence Solutions in the New Normal.

One of the speakers, Sangil, said that the Open Government Partnership (OGP) also include activities on Open Data Disclosure. Sangil is an Information Technology and Innovations ConsultantInformation Technology and Innovations Consultant for various Businesses engaged in Local and Multinational. Advising on Strategic Decision Making through Analytics, Innovation and Technology deployment. She is also Information Technology ConsultantInformation Technology Consultant for Data Analysis for Local Government Units (LGUs) and National Government Agencies (NGAs).

“We can leverage on that. Philippines is a member of OGP, I think we’ll have amazing synergy,” she said.

Batapa-Sigue also commended the digital solutions from Indonesia based on Ramos’ learning from Indonesia during the 7th International Conference on Big Data and Data Science for Official Statistics.

Ramos is currently the OIC Director of the National Planning and Corporate Management Bureau (NPCMB) and Chief of the Evaluation and Statistics Division (ESD) of the Department of Information and Communications (DICT). Ramos oversees ICT data production and consolidation in support of the DICT policy and planning agenda. Her Team has pioneered the conduct of the first Philippine National ICT Household Survey, dedicated solely to ICT indicators and aligned with the ITU Core Household indicators.

Prior to the DICT, Ramos was Head of Research of the Philippine Social Science Council overseeing the conduct of social science research and national surveys. Ms. Ramos has done consulting work with the ADB, CIDA, government agencies and international consulting firms.

“Mobile development is very important. This area is where we are weak–our mobile penetration is so high in the consumer side- but we need to create more mobile-based solutions and systems,” she said.

Batapa-Sigue led the reading of the DIWA Solidarirt Statement, as follows:

I commit to support the goals of the Digital Innovation for Women Advancement in accordance with ITU Resolution 70, Series of 2022 in the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women through information and communication technologies.

Therefore, I join all my fellow DIWA advocates in our common objectives:

•           To accelerate the leveraging of ICTs to achieve gender equality under the Sustainable Development Goal 5 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which strives to achieve gender equality and to empower all women and girls and foster gender mainstreaming as a cross-cutting issue over all goals and targets

•           To promote equal access to ICTs for women and men and equal participation at all levels and in all fields, especially in policy and decision-making, in the context of the information and knowledge society

•           To ensure that women and girls have equal access to the Internet, digital technologies, skills development, trainings, and assistance

•           To increase the participation of women in ICT industries, innovative startups and entrepreneurship, and the digital economy

•           To promote ICTs are tools through which gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls can be advanced, and are recognized as being integral to societies in which both women and men can substantially contribute and participate

This commitment is made this 12th Day of December 2022 in the Philippines.

The launch also led to a new tagline to empower women in tech.

“Ang mga babae dapat nasa bahay lang (Women should stay at home),” Sangil quoted one of the stereotypes saying about women that lead Batapa-Sigue to a new tagline. “Tama, ang mga babae dapat nasa bahay lang, nagcocoding (That’s right. Women should just stay at home, doing coding).”

DIWA garnered positive feedback from the participants who offered to work together with DICT to promote and realize the advocacy of DIWA.

The OUIID announced it is open for suggestions and ideas to help expand the mission to empower more women in the ICT industry.

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