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Partnership to tackle Africa’s growing gender digital divide

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) have partnered to address the ever-increasing gender digital divide in Burundi, Ethiopia and Haiti.

Their mandate is to focus on developing nations and Least Developed Countries, with the objective to build capacity at policy level, increase governments’ ability to mainstream gender and ICTs, and support female entrepreneurs in various sectors.

The partners claim that in Africa the proportion of women using the internet is reportedly 12% lower than that of men.

“Women in least developed countries face disproportionately high barriers to participating in the digital world and benefiting from digital economies,” says EIF’s Communications Officer, Marie-France Boucher. “The EQUALS in Tech project from ITU and EIF will assist Burundi, Ethiopia and Haiti in harnessing the untapped productive potential of working-age women, boosting their social and economic opportunities and allowing them to compete in the job market.”

Boucher noted that the three countries were selected for their “necessary economic and social conditions to achieve the intended outcomes of the project” which are their value chains with strong trade potential (agriculture, textiles and apparel, and services); their potential for high development impact; and a critical mass of working-age women as both business owners and workers.

The project coincides with the release of The new ‘State of Broadband’ report by the UN Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development which calls on world leaders to prioritise universal connectivity.

The report, released at the Commission's 10th anniversary meeting, warns of the inequalities laid bare by the COVID-19 crisis, particularly in access to high-speed connectivity that has prevented billions from benefiting from remote working, learning and communication.

According to an additional ITU study Connecting Humanity - Assessing investment needs of connecting humanity to the Internet by 2030, approximately US$428-billion will be needed to connect the remaining three billion people aged ten years and above to broadband Internet for the period.

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