GSMA leads digital gender equality agenda at W20 Summit

On 13 July GSMA Chief Regulatory Officer John Giusti participated at the Women 20 (W20) Summit hosted by the G20 Italian Presidency in Rome.

Established in 2015, the W20 is an official G20 engagement group and it aims to ensure due consideration is given to gender issues within the G20 discussions, foster gender equality and promote women’s empowerment. The 2021 W20 Summit was chaired by Linda Laura Sabbadini, Central Director at the Italian Institute of Statistics, who is a European pioneer in using statistics to broaden gender studies research.

During the Women in Action in the Digital Transformation panel discussion, Mr Giusti spoke about the actions the mobile industry is undertaking to close the digital gender divide. In particular, he stressed the critical role of industry in closing the mobile gender gap so women can access and use mobile services on a par with men and can participate equally in the digital economy.

The W20 Summit presented an important opportunity to share the recent findings from the 2021 Mobile Gender Gap Report, including concrete recommendations G20 policymakers can adopt to help close the mobile gender gap. Those recommendations include:

  • Consciously considering gender equality in access and use of digital services when setting national policies and regulations.
  • Investing in the collection of gender-disaggregated data on mobile access and use through national surveys and share the findings.
  • Implementing initiatives and policies that can expand usage by women – such as digital skills training in schools and lowering mobile-specific taxes.
  • Driving targeted intervention from industry, policymakers, the development community and other stakeholders as no one organization or government can tackle this alone.

Mr Giusti also emphasized the growing role of public-private partnerships by referring to the GSMA’s collective commitments to the Innovation and Technology Action Coalition of Generation Equality and its leadership of the EQUALS global partnership for digital gender equality as one of five EQUALS co-founders.

Other participants at the panel discussion included ITU Secretary General Houlin Zhao,   the General Manager of eBay Italy and Spain Alice Acciarri, the President and Chief Growth Officer of Splunk Teresa Carlson, and the CEO of Keyline S.p.A. and President of the Management Committee of Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia Mariacristina Gribaudi.

As a member of the European Union Delegation to the W20, the GSMA has been leading the discussions around the important role of mobile technology in closing the digital gender divide, which has been reflected in the recently published W20 Communiqué.  

Four concrete actions were recommended to G20 governments regarding the digital empowerment of women and girls:

  • To ensure safe access to and use of digital technologies for all women and girls in G20 economies by 2026, including by facilitating the use of the internet and mobile technology.
  • To guarantee foundational digital skills for all women and girls in G20 member countries, with pathways to future work and expertise in disruptive technologies by 2026.
  • To ensure that women hold equal leadership roles in digital fields in G20 economies by 2030.
  • To adopt and implement comprehensive and coordinated policies encompassing all relevant measures to identify, prevent and prosecute cyber violence and threats of violence.

The Communique also acknowledges the critical role of mobile money in removing barriers to financial inclusion for women and in facilitating access to finance and capacity building in particular for solopreneurs and microenterprises.

As a next step W20 delegations are working on an action plan to accompany the W20 Communique, expected to be delivered shortly before the G20 Summit in Rome on 30-31 October.