LEAVE NO ONE BEHIND- #DIGITALL

In our modern world, possessing digital literacy and having access to technology is crucial for education, employment outcomes and civic participation. Post the COVID-19 pandemic, with remote work and online learning becoming the new norm, it has become increasingly evident that technology access has become especially important. Thus, owing to how the modern economy is deeply intertwined with technology, it is essential to bridge the digital divide that persists within our world and respectively promote social and economic equity. With respect to the unequal access and literacy, it should be noted that rural communities and women face significant barriers to accessing technology. This essentially perpetuates inequality and hinders progress towards gender parity and equality. Creating a more equitable world requires us to ensure that each individual has equal access to technology, to be able to reach their full potential in the world we live in.

As a member of the inaugural High-Level Panel of the UN Secretary-General on Women’s Economic Empowerment followed by multiple other high level national and global positions including being the Chairperson of the Chief Minister Punjab’s Task Force on Women Empowerment, I have been committed to advancing economic outcomes for women for over years. Being a vocal advocate for promoting women’s leadership and creating a sustainable, inclusive environment for this marginalized group with innovative, bold and disruptive solutions, leveraging my position on the panel and other high level advisory roles, I realized how the nexus with digital transformation and technology can largely accelerate the road to economic prosperity for women. Furthermore, given the increasing importance of technology in the workplace, I recognize the critical role that access to technology, flexible work options, digital skills, and other remote work opportunities can play in empowering women economically and bridging the gender gap especially within the context of the cultural challenges most developing countries experience. As such, I am deeply committed to advancing initiatives that provide women with the resources and tools necessary to succeed in an increasingly digital world and co-create bold and disruptive projects that commit to tangible and accelerated action for the attainment of SDG 5 by 2030. It is time to think out of the box, and cross-cutting that thinking with digitally enabled technological solutions is definitely the solution!

As a Global Advisor to multiple stakeholders on pressing development challenges, for example being the Gender Expert for Smart Village Pakistan project, I collaborated with the Universal Services Fund and the Ministry of IT & Telecom, to empower far-flung rural communities with technology led development solutions and with innovative partnerships we launched sustainable models supporting tele-education, tele-health, digital skills, digital financial access and even E-Governance. Furthermore, my work with Pakistan’s top telecommunications companies has facilitated the launch of innovation led digital incubators which have opened up new opportunities for women in digital entrepreneurship, enabling young women to further their dreams by launching tech-led enterprise and creating business models with a global reach, creating a sustainable economic livelihood.

As I strive to empower marginalized communities by providing them with access to technology especially women and girls as for me that is the only way to catalyse the journey of empowerment, I find myself working at both the grassroots level for tangible action and with high-level global leaders for the much-needed advocacy and policy reforms. This allows me to have a wider impact, from directly engaging with rural communities to understand how the lack of technology actually inhibits growth opportunities to advocating for change on a larger scale, where it matters. Thus, as I consistently work towards bridging the digital divide and promoting inclusivity, I find my work to reach positive and enduring outcomes. For instance, at the recent Commission on the Status of Women (CSW67 in 2023), I was delighted to engage in multiple high-level platforms with global leaders on solutions for the “Digital Transformation for the Empowerment of Women and Girls” especially with male allies and global leaders.

Ultimately, my goal is to create a more just society where everyone, regardless of their background or gender, has the opportunity to succeed and thrive, and the pathway to achieve this goal is strongly embedded in the world of technology and digital transformation for all!

 

Fiza Farhan

Global Strategic Development Adviser and Member, UN SG’s High Level Panel on Women Empowerment, Pakistan

Fiza Farhan is a Pakistan based women entrepreneur and development expert, featured in the US Magazine Forbes “30 Under 30 List of Social Entrepreneurs” for 2015 and again in Forbes Asia List of “30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs in 2016”. She represents Pakistan on the United Nation’s Secretary General’s first ever High Level Panel on Women Economic Empowerment along with global leadership in addition to being the Chairperson of Chief Minister Punjab’s Task Force on Women Empowerment and member of the National Steering Committee on Climate Change for Pakistan. Previously, Fiza co-founded and was the CEO of Buksh Foundation and Director of Buksh Energy Private Limited, both companies pioneering unique and demand based multi-stakeholder solutions in the domains of gender equality, inclusive growth, digital finance, renewable energy and impact investment.