2020 EQUALS Annual Meeting
Updated: Nov 19, 2020
With more than 80 partners attending, the EQUALS Annual Partnership Meeting was held on 14 September this year. Because EQUALS is a global partnership, we often work together online; however, this was the first time our annual meeting was entirely virtual.
"The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic this year has underscored the importance of ensuring women are not left behind when it comes to digital connectivity. The EQUALS mandate is more important than ever," said GSMA Director General Mats Granryd, kicking off the meeting.
Anita Bhatia, Deputy Executive Director for Resource Management, Sustainability and Partnerships at UN Women, summed up why we work together: "UN Women is determined to work with partners of EQUALS to save education for women and girls because they should be able to learn no matter who they are and where they are."
First to report were representatives of the EQUALS Access Coalition, who work to address the worldwide gender gap in internet access and use. The coalition highlighted three 2020 projects:
Digital Skills Trainings: Digital Economy for Africa (DE4A) Initiative (partners: World Bank and GSMA)
EQUALS Access Coalition Learning Sessions (partners: BBVA Microfinance Foundation, DOT, GSMA, Plan International, ProMujer, Trickle Up and the Web Foundation)
Twitter chat: Accelerating access to healthcare for women through technology (partners: Pro Mujer and members of the Access Coalition)
The Access Coalition identified two gaps to focus on in the next year: 1) work together more effectively at the national level, and 2) reach a wider audience to get more stakeholders involved in bringing equality to internet access.
The EQUALS Skills Coalition aims to empower girls and women to acquire skills to become adept at using digital technology, and also to become digital creators themselves. At the annual meeting, the coalition reported on a wide variety of projects (such as Girls in ICT Day, Tech4Girls, EQUALS Badges, and the EQUALS Digital Skills Fund 2.0) and launched the Digital Skills Hub--a great new resource created by UNESCO and supported by BMZ/GIZ--and the EQUALS Mapping Project, led by World Pulse.
The Skills Coalition announced that their projects and programs have so far reached 100,000+ girls and women and 180+ leaders across more than 50 countries. They identified several improvement goals for the coming year, including:
Ensuring quality and quantity of training
Changing women’s perceptions and increasing training opportunities
Coordinating global efforts and measuring progress
Empowering local trainers
Coordinating funding opportunities
Our Leadership coalition identified the continuing gender gaps in tech sector representation, leadership and venture funding as their focus for the year. While women now make up around 50% of the global workforce, they hold fewer than 1 in 10 senior technology jobs, and aualified women are quitting the tech sector at twice the rate of men.
To address these issues, Leadership partners presented several successful projects in 2020 and continuing:
The EQUALS Leadership coalition has set a goal that 30% of tech leaders are women by 2030; partners see that the success of the coalition’s efforts will create a virtuous circle, with greater numbers of female role models in tech who will in turn inspire the next generation of girls to aspire to tech leadership.
Dedicated to an evidence-based approach to its work, the EQUALS Global Partnership formed its Research coalition to coordinate analysis and new knowledge about the gender digital divide. The coalition launched their inaugural findings in 2018 and have continued to provide the foundational research that informs and guides the work of the entire EQUALS partnership.
In the annual meeting, the Research coalition reported on two projects: EQUALS-EU (led by OSLOMET and 18+ other institutions) and Fairness in AI (led by KAIST and 8 other institutions), with the goals of increasing gender-inclusive innovation spaces and detecting bias in digital systems.
In 2020, EQUALS welcomed several new partners, including UNICEF. At the meeting, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore reflected on the critical need for girls to be able to build fulfilling and safe digital lives. She issued a call to action to fellow partners to join UNICEF and ITU in making progress together: "In the EQUALS partnership, we are part of the Generation Equality Technology and Innovation Action Coalition, to empower girls to become both users and creators in the digital world.... They will then become digital leaders, creators and entrepreneurs by 2030."
At the 2020 EQUALS Annual Meeting, all our partners renewed their commitment to the complex but vital work of closing the gender digital divide. We believe everyone can be #EQUALSinTech.
As Dorothy Tembo, Executive Director ad interim of the International Trade Centre, so aptly stated, "Our power is within our partnerships."
We regularly report on EQUALS new, coalitions and projects in this blog and on social media. Follow us to get the latest news!