WTDC-17 Side Event: Shaping the Future of the Internet with Gender Equality

The event was organized by Internet Society (ISOC) with support from the International Development Research Center of Canada (IDRC/Canada), the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) and Google.


Policymakers and key influencers – responsible for shaping the future of communications Information Society – were heading to Buenos Aires, Argentina, from 9 to 20 October, to define the landscape for ITU’s work for the next 4 years on sustainable development and ICTs. The theme for WTDC-17 was “ICTs for Sustainable Development Goals.”

Participants at WTDC-14 recognized the important role that ICTs play in socio-economic development, noting that no one should be offline. While substantial progress had been made to advance Internet connectivity and inclusion, more than half of the world’s population is offline and the gender digital gap is widening particularly in LDCs.

In order to move us closer on achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 5 – “Achieve gender equality and empower women and girls”, we need to examine more closely the role that ICTs, and in particular the Internet, can play in advancing a more inclusive, developed and sustainable society.

A significant amount of work has been done through studies and research to identify barriers to Internet access for men and women, boys and girls; as well as the gap for women to rise into leadership positions. Moreover, there are good examples of concrete actions and best practices being taken at national and international levels aimed at empowering women and girls to develop ICT skills and provide leadership referees. The ITU ICT Girls Day and the EQUALS in Tech Awards, as well as the Internet Society’s #ShinetheLight Campaign, are good examples of initiatives showcasing how Women and Girls make a difference through ICTs.

All these studies, activities and initiatives are informative experiences that enriched the WTDC-17 participants with real impact they have in society. But more than that, it was time to connect the dots, and that was the expectation for this side event.


The side-event entitled “Shaping the Future of the Internet with Gender Equality” aimed to initiate an open and bottom-up dialogue around 2 main issues:

  • Access to Information – advocating for equal Internet access for men and women, boys and girls, across the world.
  • Leadership by Example – highlighting womenrole models for girls and young women, we will provide inspiration for women and girls to seek leadership positions.

This event objectives were to:

  • identify synergies for future and ongoing collaboration,
  • showcase the concrete and successful on-the-ground initiatives that are empowering girls and women towards more digital inclusion, and
  • recommend public policies that are enabling girls and women to take leadership roles, and get more involved in technical discussions. 

The event format was designed to be interactive and dynamic, into a conversational mode. High level leaders and experts were invited to deliver a pitch talk of 2-3 minutes each, followed by rounds of audience and panel interventions with comments, discussion, reactions and questions. The co-moderators made the appropriate time allocation and summarize the discussions. 

Expected results

The expected results were to deliver tangible outcomes and to develop key recommendations for policymakers in ICTs to adopt towards the fulfillments of SDG-5 on empowering girls and women to be equally integrated into the digital society and enjoy the Internet of opportunities.


5:30 PMOpening remarks

Doreen Bogdan, ITU Equals in Tech
Maria Ines Baque, Ministerio de Modernización, Argentina
Isabella Roy, Global Affairs, Government of Canada
Raul Echeberria, Internet Society
Dafne Plou, APC
Eleonora Rabinovich, Google

Moderator: Olga Cavalli, ISOC Board member and President of ISOC Argentina
5:50 PMBreakout group 1 (Access)
6:35 PMBreakout group 2 (Leadership)

Facilitators (both sessions)

Dr Alison Gillwald (Executive Director, Research ICT Africa)
Alison Gillwald (PhD) is the Executive Director of Research ICT Africa (RIA) and holds an adjunct professorship at the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Development, Policy and Practice where she supervises PhD candidates focusing on ICT policy and regulation.

Ms. Salam Yamout
Ms. Yamout is the Regional Director, Middle East for the Internet Society. She is also founder and executive board member of the Lebanese Internet Center, Women in IT, and the Lebanon Chapter of the Internet Society. She also serves on the board of various organizations including RIPE NCC (the Internet Registry for Europe, the Middle East and parts of Central Asia); MIT Enterprise Forum for the Pan Arab Region, and Lebanon for Entrepreneurs.

Ms. Paula Arregui
Product Senior Vice President at MercadoPago, Latin America´s leading Internet payment platform. In this role she has actively participated in the product development strategy all over the region. She is Argentinian citizen and holds a B.A. degree in Business Administration from the University of Buenos Aires. She has just ended an Executive Program at Stanford University.

Rappourteurs (both sessions): Raquel Gatto (ISOC), Luisa Paez (Canada), Agustina Callegari (ISOC SIG Women)
7:20 PMClosing remarks
(Facilitators and rapporteurs)
Date and Time

Tuesday 10 October 2017


Google Argentina

Dock Del Plata, Alicia Moureau de Justo, 350, Piso 1, Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires


Related articles

See all articles
Solutions needed! It’s time to close the digital gender divide
WTDC-17 Side Event: Shaping the Future of the Internet with Gender Equality Thumbnail
Women in Tech 10 October 2017

Solutions needed! It’s time to close the digital gender divide

If you could sneak peek a future in 10 years in which the Internet is everywhere, would it still be...

25 Under 25: Using the Internet to Make a Difference in Communities
WTDC-17 Side Event: Shaping the Future of the Internet with Gender Equality Thumbnail
7 September 2017

25 Under 25: Using the Internet to Make a Difference in Communities

On September 18th in Los Angeles, California, the Internet Society will celebrate a selected group of exceptional young people under...

Gender Parity Starts with the Internet
WTDC-17 Side Event: Shaping the Future of the Internet with Gender Equality Thumbnail
Growing the Internet 8 March 2016

Gender Parity Starts with the Internet

Today, on International Women’s Day, I want to acknowledge the many contributions made by women to the development and growth...

Related resources

See all resources
The Internet and Sustainable Development
Internet Governance 5 June 2015

The Internet and Sustainable Development

An Internet Society contribution to the United Nations discussion on the Sustainable Development Goals and on the 10-year Review of...

The Internet, an Opportunity for Sustainable Development
Development 16 October 2015

The Internet, an Opportunity for Sustainable Development

An Internet Society Perspective The greatest challenge facing the world today is the need to achieve sustainable development – development...

Issue Paper: Asia-Pacific Bureau – Gender
Human Rights 26 July 2017

Issue Paper: Asia-Pacific Bureau – Gender

Internet penetration rates are higher for men than for women in all regions, including Asia and the Pacific.