March 26, 2023

Digital transformation – based on improvements to digital connectivity and expanded internet access – offers a substantial opportunity for Pacific private sector development. According to the World Bank , Pacific cycles digital transformation could add more than US$5 billion in order to regional GDP, increase total government revenue across the region by US$1 billion, and create almost 300, 000 new jobs in the particular region’s ICT sector by 2040. The particular digital change will increase access to markets, information, government services, plus finance and banking services.

Yet little attention has been given to the Pacific’s digital gender divide – the differences between Pacific men and women in electronic technology entry and use.

At the global level, the International Telecommunication Union has found that the digital gender divide is closing , with 62% of men plus 57% associated with women now using the particular internet (although the gap is greatest in least developed countries, where the proportion of women using the internet is 12 percentage points lower than men). The Mobile Gender Gap Report 2022 also states that the particular mobile internet gender space is reducing, but notes there are still 264 million fewer women than men along with access.

However, global reports and indices rarely include data for the Pacific. So how does the Pacific compare with worldwide trends? Are women throughout the Pacific positioned to benefit equally from the economic gains to be delivered through digital connection in the region?

To answer this question, we need reliable data and analysis on the differences in digital opportunity and accessibility between males and ladies, so that all of us can identify and address gaps. However , there is limited information and analysis around the gendered impact plus opportunities presented by electronic transformation within the Pacific cycles.

To bridge the data shortfall, the particular Asian Development Bank’s Pacific Private Sector Development Initiative (PSDI), in partnership with the World Wide Web Foundation and local partners (the PNG Electronic ICT Cluster, Samoa Information Technology Association, and Tonga Women in ICT Incorporated), used the Women’s Rights Online global methodology in order to measure the digital gender gap.

The methodology is based on 14 indicators that are used to measure country progress towards closing the particular digital sex gap. The scorecard uses existing secondary data, where available, and identifies evidence gaps exactly where data on women plus ICT will be missing or not publicly available.

Digital gender space audits were conducted within three nations with varied rates associated with internet penetration – Papua New Guinea (11. 2%), Samoa (33. 61%), and Tonga (41. 25%). Scorecards were produced for each country, to gauge the state of women’s digital inclusion and empowerment across five key themes: access to the internet translating into women’s empowerment, affordability, digital skills and education, relevant content and solutions for women, plus online safety. The scorecards also assessed the policy environment and efforts in order to collect sex-disaggregated data.

Given the low rate of internet transmission, PNG scored the lowest associated with the three countries across all 5 themes, with an overall score of 47%. Samoa plus Tonga performed better over the key areas, with overall scores of 71% and 71. 6% respectively (Table 1).

The audits and findings are explained in more detail in the regional synthesis report . The particular report records that the Pacific cycles has the lowest rate associated with mobile web penetration in the world (18%).

Tonga was the only country to collect plus report sex-disaggregated ICT information, and none of the 3 countries had clear, time-bound targets in order to address divides in internet use within national ICT policies.

The implications are clear – if women are less likely to have internet gain access to, they are much less likely to access online info and services. The internet is less affordable with regard to women due to lower levels of workforce participation, the gender pay distance, and reduce levels of digital literacy. As a result, many women will not be able to take advantage of the new platforms and services that will could open opportunities regarding improved economic and social outcomes.

In recognition of these opportunities, the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) has devised a regional e-commerce strategy plus roadmap , followed simply by the development of national e-commerce strategies for Samoa and Tonga . E-commerce readiness assessments that informed these techniques include very limited sex-disaggregated data or sex analysis, despite covering many of the same styles as the particular scorecards, such as access, affordability and digital abilities. It will be thus no surprise that these strategies consist of commitments in order to empower females through web commerce, but lack specific activities or targets for reaching women, apart from building electronic skills for ladies entrepreneurs.

Expanding access plus use associated with digital technology has significant potential for women’s entrepreneurship inside the Pacific, including for females in the informal field. But without focused interventions that target women’s involvement, based on dependable sex-disaggregated information, many Pacific cycles Island women will be left behind as the digital economy grows and others capitalise upon its benefits.

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