Closing the digital gender gap: lessons from the pandemic

This event, hosted by UK think tank IIED will explore why & how the digital world should consider the needs of both women & men of all ages to enable progress.

Technology and the internet can be a great enabler. But while easy and cheap access to digital tools and channels has opened opportunities for some during the COVID-19 pandemic, many people still face barriers and are being left behind.

This IIED Debates online event will consider how to make a digital world more inclusive and how we can apply gender mainstreaming strategies to digital technology to create equal and better opportunities for women and drive true progress in gender equality.

We all read about new digital tools and channels and the assumption is that these are developments that everyone can enjoy. But is that true?

Does a person in a rural area of Kenya, for example, have access to these tools or access to the internet? And if a young woman wants to take advantage of opportunities or information via digital channels, will it be as easy for her to do that as it would be for a young man?

The pandemic has accelerated the transition to digital with many events, opportunities and sharing of information happening online. This is certainly progress in many ways – but is it sustainable and fair?

Any digital development should give an equal chance to women and men of all ages to participate in work and in their communities, seize opportunities and prepare for the future. If it doesn’t, then there’s an increasing risk that power imbalances will be reinforced, potential will be lost, and some people will get left behind.

At this IIED Debates webinar, speakers will share their experience of these issues and the solutions they are testing in their work.

We’ve asked our speakers to be brief and provocative. They’ll raise questions for us to consider in a period of discussion. There will be opportunity to share your experiences and for us all to learn from each other so that we can leave the event with new knowledge to deploy.


Liz Carlile (moderator) is IIED’s director of communications. She is a marketing and communications strategist and leads a team working across the full range of communications channels

Grace Natabaalo is a Uganda-based communications specialist and research lead at Caribou Digital, a research and advisory firm that helps clients change the world through building inclusive and ethical digital economies

Barry Smith is a researcher in IIED’s Climate Change research group. His research focuses on locally-led adaptation, climate finance and using digital technology to engage citizens in climate action

Sam Greene is a senior researcher in IIED’s Climate Change research group. Sam works on co-developing participatory, gender transformative tools that inform climate-resilient development planning at the local level

Maryanne Ochola is head of partnerships and programmes at ShuJaaz Inc, a network of social ventures that connect young people with the information, skills and resources they need to embed in a digital and real-world community

Matt Wright is web planning and content manager at IIED. He is a digital communications specialist and manages IIED’s online presence across all channels and platforms. Matt implements digital strategies, develops digital content and evaluates its impact


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