Policy Dialogue: Building gender-inclusive digital ecosystems in Latin America and the Caribbean

11:15 am
 – 12:30 pm
 (Quito Time)
eTrade for all | UNCTAD


In this Policy Dialogue entitled ‘Building gender-inclusive digital ecosystems in Latin America and the Caribbean’, representatives from major donor institutions women digital entrepreneurs, and policymakers from across Latin America and the Caribbean will discuss how to boost digital entrepreneurship and open more opportunities to all, to shape sustainable and inclusive digital ecosystems.


The potential of the digital economy on the road to recovery

As countries in Latin America and the Caribbean face a steep climb to economic recovery, the rapid spread of digital tools triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic offers many opportunities for SME growth. Since the onset of the crisis, the region’s digitalization process has jumped years forward with an increasing number of people and businesses turning to teleworking and online shopping, and e-commerce penetration rates surging. Data from the Digital Economy in Latin America and the Caribbean project1 indicate than between April and May 2020, business websites increased by 800% in Colombia and Mexico and by around 360% in Brazil and Chile.

Persisting barriers to digitalization

Yet, such a rapid spread has also put into light persisting barriers to e-commerce and digital entrepreneurship across the region, such as connectivity issues, insufficient logistics infrastructures, limited access to capital, or lack of digital skills – with large discrepancies between rural and urban areas. The pandemic has tended to exacerbate existing gender inequalities, as the crisis amplified barriers for women trying to access digital solutions and enter into e-commerce. If left unaddressed, the gap between those able to take advantage of digital solutions, and those who are not, will widen, depriving the region from significant development gains.

Digital transformation must be accelerated to allow businesses and consumers to adapt to a new normal and leverage the recovery to create strong economies, while tackling long-standing barriers to adopting digital technologies and bridging digital divides. These have impeded sustained and inclusive economic growth even before the pandemic. The COVID-19 crisis should act as a “wake-up call” for governments, the private sector, the civil society and the international community to come together and take concerted actions for sustainable and inclusive development agendas.

Topics to be discussed

  • In this session, panellists will engage discuss the following topics:
  • What are the main barriers countries and businesses in LAC economies face when trying to leverage digital solutions in COVID-19 times? What policy responses and innovative measures have been put in place to support the digital transformation? What could be done better
  • How are women digital entrepreneurs contributing to the digital transformation across the region? How can they help unlock the potential of e-commerce and digital trade?
  • What role can Governments and the international community play to support the digital industry in Latin America in a way that benefits all?


  • Johan Mulder, Chief, International Trade Unit, UN ECLAC
    Setting the scene: Disruptions and opportunities in Latin America and the Caribbean’s digital ecosystems


  • Cinthya Game, Vice Minister of Education, Ecuador
  • Magdalena Coronel, Chief Investment Officer, IDB Lab
  • Maria Luisa Boyce, Vice President, UPS Global Public Affairs
  • Pierangela Sierra, eTrade for Women Advocate, Founder and CEO, Tipti
  • Representative, Ministry of Information and Communication Technologies, Colombia
  • Representative, Ministry of Industry, Trade and MSMEs, Dominican Republic


  • Tom Azzopardi, Correspondent, Bloomberg Industry Group, Chile

eTrade for Women

This Policy Dialogue is part of theeTrade-for-Women Masterclass for Latin America and the Caribbean hosted by UNCTAD under the theme: “Women digital entrepreneurs: Unlock your potential for growth” from Monday 22 to Wednesday 24 November 2021, to train, inspire and connect women digital entrepreneurs from the region.