top of page

Advancing the Gender Digital Divide through the EQUALS Skills Coalition: A Recap of Mobile Learning

Mobile Learning Week is UNESCO’s flagship ICT in education conference. The 2018 edition, organized in partnership with the ITU, took place from March 26 – 30 at UNESCO headquarters in Paris. This year’s theme, “Skills for a Connected World”, is examining the digital and other skills needed for a connected economy and society, and how to achieve the skills-related targets in the Sustainable Development Goals. Stakeholders from around the globe are exchanging knowledge, innovations and best practices.

From left to right, Mark West (UNESCO), Saniye Gülser Corat (UNESCO), Justine Sass (UNESCO), Birgit Frank (BMZ), Carla Licciardello (ITU) and Normal Schraepel (GIZ)

Recognizing the pronounced inequalities in digital skills across the world, a sub-theme of Mobile Learning Week is “closing inequalities and gender divides.” The EQUALS Skills Coalition contributed to these discussions through plenary session remarks, and a side event, “EQUALS in Tech: Principles for Quality and Gender-Transformative Digital Skills Training”. The event aimed at drawing on the rich expertise of participants to inform and discuss the development of upcoming standards and guidance for gender-transformative digital skills training to be published by the EQUALS Skills Coalition.

The EQUALS Skills Coalition is a branch of the broader EQUALS Global Partnership. Led by Germany and UNESCO, the coalition aims to empower women and girls by supporting the development and acquisition of ICT and STEM skills that will help them become users and creators in the digital world.

With only 3% of women enrolled in higher education choosing ICT fields of study, there is still a long road ahead to reaching gender equality in ICT and related fields. Including women and girls in ICT and STEM requires intentional action and deliberate policies. Building on the outcomes of a side event organized on the margins of the 62nd Commission on the Status of Women and online consultations on social media, the EQUALS Skills Coalition’s side event at Mobile Learning engaged experts and practitioners to respond to some key questions. This included: What tools are needed to enable different stakeholders to analyse the gender implications of current practice, and to make changes or initiate new policies or programmes to ensure girls and women can benefit equally from digital transformations? Why are existing frameworks not adequately addressing gender gaps in digital skills acquisition and use?

Mobile Learning week

From left to right, Anna Polomska (ITU), Susan Schorr (ITU), Tim Unwin (Royal Holloway University), Carla Licciardello (ITU), Saniye Gülser Corat (UNESCO), Birgit Frank (BMZ), Maria Garrido (University of Washington), Justine Sass (UNESCO), Norman Schraepel (GIZ) and Chongzheng Wei (UNESCO)

The EQUALS Skills Coalition also met on the sidelines of Mobile Learning Week to discuss the workplan and deliverables to be achieved by the end of 2019. The 15 members of the Skills Coalition stand united to leverage resources and knowledge, and promote cooperation to advance digital gender equality.

In order to create a more connected world and provide the necessary skills to achieve that, the gender digital divide needs to be addressed. With the support of the participants of Mobile Learning Week and the many stakeholders of the EQUALS partnership, we look forward to collaborating to develop the skills needed for a truly connected and inclusive world for all.

To learn more about EQUALS, visit

bottom of page