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Technology is an enabler to bridge the digital divide and promote inclusion: Ms Smriti Zubin Irani, at CII Partnership Summit 2021
Dec 15, 2021

Technology is an enabler that can bridge the digital divide to promote inclusion in a country as diverse as India, where diversity in language can pose a challenge, said Ms Smriti Zubin Irani, Minister of Women and Child Development, Government of India. She was speaking at the session on Fostering Gender Equality and Promoting Women Empowerment: Role of W20 at the CII Partnership Summit 2021, organised in association with the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce and Industry. Women 20 (W20) is a recent G20 dialogue process with the goal of reducing the gender employment gap by 25% by 2025 (“25 by 25”). Deliberations at the session centred around ways to bridge the digital divide and ensure representation of women at all levels of decision making.

The Minister shared the rapid strides India has made towards empowering women through policies and schemes such as Digital Disha and Mudra, which strengthens financial inclusion, and infrastructure by way of personal toilets that uphold and respect the dignity of women. She said that the Government was committed to strengthening inclusion and would be willing to go door-to-door to create awareness about the schemes and programmes. In 2013, she said, a dismal 28% of women had bank accounts which rose sharply to 78% now. On pay parity, the Minister mentioned the legislation that assures women pay parity and equality and urged corporate India to implement it to ensure gender parity.

Ms Dian Siswarini, Co-Chair, W20 Indonesia 2022 & President Director & CEO, PT. XL Axiata Tbk, Indonesia said promoting women’s empowerment is fundamental for a prosperous world and that technology is a wonderful tool to increase gender equality since it removes barriers for women and helps increase inclusivity at the workplace. She advocated removing gender biases and promoting STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths)  amongst girls so that there are more successful women in the digital arena.

Dr Victoria Panova, Vice President for International Relations, Far Eastern Federal University, Russia spoke about how the pandemic accentuated issues like domestic violence and inequalities vis-à-vis job losses between the genders and how both men and women must be equally committed to and participate to create a more inclusive world.

Ms Vaishali Nigam Sinha, Chairperson, CII National Committee on Women Empowerment & Indian Women Network & Chief Sustainability Officer, ReNew Power & Founding Chair, ReNew Foundation, India, said women add a lot of value and we must look at socio-cultural changes that would empower women. There is a pressing need to cooperate and collaborate to bring about change, she stressed, adding that skilling women in technology will accelerate inclusion.

Ms Suchitra K Ella, Deputy Chairperson, CII Southern Region & Co-Founder & Joint Managing Director, Bharat Biotech International Limited, India said digitalisation offers a variety of opportunities for female empowerment and for a more equal female participation in labour markets, financial markets, and entrepreneurship.

15 December 2021

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