Addressing digital gender gap a PH priority – DICT

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 11) — Addressing the digital gender gap in the Philippines is one of the priorities of the government to protect and promote women's rights, an official from the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) has told a United Nations commission.

DICT Undersecretary Anna Mae Lamentillo said that part of the government's programs to tackle digital inclusion and gender equality is through supporting Filipino women micro-entrepreneurs.

During the 67th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, she cited government data that showed majority of new business name registrations under "retail sale via the internet" as of October 2020 were women-owned.

"The role of the government is vital in encouraging women to venture into the digital economy," Lamentillo said.

"Addressing the digital divide and digital gender gap, particularly in the areas of entrepreneurship and ICT, will help women entrepreneurs harness the potential of the digital economy in improving the competitiveness and productivity of their business operations," she added.

Lamentillo shared with the UN commission session some government initiatives including the SheTrades PH Hub and Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program aimed at assisting and enhancing Filipina-led businesses to adapt to the digital economy.

The Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) said that a big gender gap remains in opportunities available in the country, especially in innovation and ICT-related professions.

"We have to push for our Women's Priority Legislative Agenda to give emphasis on the needs of the Filipino women," PCW deputy executive director for operations Kristine Balmes told CNN Philippines' The Exchange.

"Also, there are a lot of partnerships going on with the government, [non-government organizations], and civil society organizations and partners which can come up with different programs, plans, and activities that shall address the need to address the gender gap in ICT and [innovation]," she added.

The Philippines placed 19th out of 146 countries included in the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap 2022, which was two notches lower than the previous year's ranking.

The WEF said the country fared worse in the "Educational Attainment" subindex as gender parity decreased at the level of enrollment in primary education.

Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Margarita Gutierrez, who was part of the delegation to the UN commission session, also said that the Philippine government strongly supports the recommendations from the Asia-Pacific region.

According to Malacañang, the recommendations were "to ensure meaningful connectivity to close the gender digital divide; and to foster inclusive education in the digital age and promote women and girls' participation and leadership in STEM education and careers; to implement policies for inclusive digitalization; and to address forms of virtual and non-virtual GBV (gender-based violence) and discrimination."