Recognizing the hard work of bridging the gender digital divide

Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Director, ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau, and Secretary-General-elect, ITU

Every day, ITU works together with a large community of partners from around the world with one common goal: to connect the unconnected and make sure that everyone, regardless of gender, has the chance to enjoy the benefits of being online.

ICTs have the power to build stronger communities and to give individuals the chance to work toward their dreams. That’s particularly true for marginalized groups like women and girls, who are often left behind in the digital revolution.

That’s why, today, on International Day of the Girl Child, I’m excited to be able to share two pieces of inspiring news:

First, the theme for Girls in ICT Day 2023 is ‘Digital Skills for Life’, a vital component to helping us achieve universal and meaningful connectivity.

And the finalists of the 2022 EQUALS in Tech Awards!

Back in 2014, ITU and its partners began an annual tradition of recognizing outstanding work in gender digital equality around the world, and shining a light on initiatives, organizations and individuals working hard to make a difference. That initiative grew into our EQUALS in Tech Awards, which celebrate innovation and impact in bridging the digital gender divide.

From microfinance for women entrepreneurs in Latin America, to coding camps and employment fairs for girls in Burundi, to small tech business training for women in Tunisia, and research around the world that promotes evidence-based policymaking, EQUALS in Tech Award winners are transforming communities all around the world.

The 2022 Finalists

Our EQUALS in Tech Awards reflect the focus of our core EQUALS Coalitions in promoting equal internet access, digital skills, and opportunities for leadership in the tech industry.

This year, the EQUALS in Tech Awards committee received 160 nominations from 54 countries across seven regions.

The judges selected three finalists across five categories: Access, Skills, Leadership in SME, Leadership in tech, and Research. And this year, the partnership has also launched a new category – the EQUALS Special Recognition Partner Award – to celebrate an outstanding EQUALS partner whose activities and impact have been a model to gender advocates around the world.

The five winning initiatives and one outstanding EQUALS partner will be selected for their vision, significant impact, and regional importance.

These initiatives are building a brighter digital future for everyone, and I look forward to the wide support of our ITU members and partners.

2022 EQUALS in Tech Award Finalists

App Morada (Mexico) – Designed and evaluated by women with disabilities, this app offers resources to help prevent violence against women, and to help women who experience violence, especially those with disabilities.

Proyecto Digitalización (Mexico) – A scalable digital platform aiming to provide access to education, training, work opportunities and a supportive community for women from all walks of life.

VCEELA (Pakistan) –An ecosystem connecting unconnected and digitally untrained artisans directly to local and international markets.
Mujeres en Tecnología (Argentina) – Through training, research and promotion of cultural change, MeT promotes greater participation of women and gender minorities in technology, for a more a diverse and inclusive digital ecosystem.

EY STEM App (Global) – The EY STEM App is a mobile application that inspires and empowers girls aged 13 to 18 to take up STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) careers.

Czechitas (Czech Republic) – A social impact platform dedicated to creating and growing tech opportunities for women and girls in the Czech Republic, offering practical experiences, hands-on exercises, and real-world applicability.
Tech Driven Entrepreneur programme (Zimbabwe) – An initiative that aims to bring more women-owned micro, small and medium enterprises into the digital economy and help them grow their business and trade internationally.

Premier Credit (Zambia) – A financial technology company supporting local entrepreneurs and small-scale traders (most of whom are women) with online microlending and investment.

SE 360 and EstroLab (Nigeria) – Complementary initiatives for women’s empowerment, designing tech innovations for women’s safety, economic empowerment and political engagement.
Women Technopreneurs (WTECH) (Sri Lanka) – The WTECH Forum seeks to support, promote and nurture women technopreneurs and to increase women’s involvement in the IT industry.

Women Techmakers (Nigeria) – A platform that provides visibility, community, and resources for women in technology through events, leadership programmes and scholarly support.

SheLeadsTech (United States) – An initiative offering resources to identify and provide pathways to educational, professional, and career-building opportunities, so that under-represented populations can access and thrive in leadership roles.
AfricanWITS Female Ecosystem Mapping (Cameroon) – An initiative that produces annual data in the form of a ‘digital gender’ map spanning several African countries, with the goal of creating an ecosystem of women-led startups and businesses.

MetLife Triangle Tech X (United States) – The MetLife Triangle Tech X summit aims to bridge the gap and future-proof roles for women in STEM. In 2021, MetLife’s Women in STEM Study surveyed diversity issues within STEM.

Educational Digital Equity Initiative (EDEI) (Nigeria) – EDEI seeks to understand the barriers children, particularly girls, face in leveraging the power of technology for learning and other socioeconomic advantages.
2022 EQUALS Special Recognition Partner Award finalists, selected by fellow EQUALS partners:
EY STEM App (also nominated by the public in the Skills Award category) – The EY STEM app targets ages 13-18 with the aim of fostering girls’ and women’s interest in STEM and STEM skills development.

Women’s Worldwide Web (W4) – International, non-profit organization & crowdfunding platform dedicated to girls’ and women’s empowerment.

The 2022 EQUALS in Tech Awards ceremony

In the past two years, the constraints imposed by the pandemic mean we’ve celebrated the annual EQUALS in Tech Awards online, meeting virtually to recognize and cheer-on the incredible work in gender digital equality.

This year, we’re excited to return to an in-person ceremony, as part of the December Partner2Connect (P2C) Annual Meeting at ITU Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

For me, the two events have a natural synergy: EQUALS is a multisectoral partnership addressing the many complex underlying causes of the gender digital divide, and the Partner2Connect Digital Coalition is a multistakeholder alliance to foster meaningful connectivity and digital transformation globally. Since universal meaningful connectivity will never be achieved without digital gender equality, bringing together P2C and EQUALS makes for the perfect double-act!

I’m looking forward to seeing a great many of you in Geneva in December, and to joining with all our partners in raising a loud cheer for this year’s winners. We’ll also be making this year’s EQUALS in Tech awards open to the public online, so mark your calendars and watch for more details at

WHAT: EQUALS in Tech Awards 2022

WHERE: ITU Headquarters, Geneva, Switzerland, during the Partner2Connect Annual Meeting

WHEN: 8 December 2022

I can’t wait to find out which of our finalists will win an EQUALS in Tech Award on 8 December. But no matter who ends up taking the trophies, this year’s incredible finalists are an inspiration to us all in showing what we can achieve when we harness the power of innovation, collaboration and motivation to advancing gender equality in the digital world.

Resources and background information:

History of International Day of the Girl Child

More about International Girls in ICT Day

Join the conversation on social media using the hashtags #GirlsinICT and #EQUALSinTech

Learn more about the EQUALS in Tech Awards

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