EQUALS Skills Coalition: addressing Gender Divides


From 26 to 30 March, UNESCO organized its annual flagship information and communications technology in education conference, Mobile Learning Week, which brought together experts, practitioners and policy-makers from around the world to share ideas and best practices under the theme “Skills for a Connected World”.

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, on 27 March, “EQUALS in Tech: Principles for Quality and Gender-Transformative Digital Skills Training”. Co-chaired by Ms Saniye Gülser Corat, UNESCO’s Director for Gender Equality, and Ms Birgit Frank, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany, 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.

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

Led by UNESCO and the German government, the EQUALS Skills Coalition is a branch of the broader EQUALS Global Partnership, which 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.

On 28 March, the EQUALS Skills coalition, under the co-leadership of Ms Saniye Gülser Corat, UNESCO’s Director for Gender Equality, and Mr Norman Schräepel, from the German Association for International Cooperation (GIZ), held an interagency meeting with 19 colleagues from the 15 members of the Skills Coalition present both physically and virtually. The group discussed around the draft workplan and deliverables to be achieved by the end of 2019, including the establishment of the “Principles for Quality and Gender Transformative Digital Training” to further the development of gender inclusive digital skills.

© UNESCO/Bruno Zanobia

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 ICT sector is facing a predicted skills shortfall of at least two million jobs globally by 2020. It is estimated that 95% of all future jobs will have a digital component, and today’s girls and women can only benefit from these opportunities if they have the right skills. However, women hold only 17% of the current technology jobs and only 3% of women enrolled in higher education chose 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.

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, UNESCO and ITU look forward to collaborating to develop the skills needed for a truly connected and inclusive world for all.

To learn more about EQUALS, visit www.EQUALS.org