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USAID Leads Dialogue on Improving Women’s Digital Inclusion in the Philippines

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Speakers and speakers from DICT, USAID, the Philippine Commission on Women, GSMA, and public and private sectors engaged more than 300 participants in an online dialogue on the use gap gender mobile globally and in the Philippines.


Manila, July 19, 2022—In commemoration of National Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Month, the United States government, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), recently conducted a virtual dialogue on improving access to digital technology in the Philippines, especially among women.

Over 300 participants attended the dialogue on June 27 to discuss issues related to digital inclusion, such as gendered mobile internet adoption and usage and key ICT policy challenges and opportunities to increase the use of mobile internet by women.

“We are on the cusp of a rapid digital transformation where digital devices and the internet have become an integral part of our daily lives,” said Jennifer Crow, Director of USAID’s Regional Acquisition and Assistance Office at Philippines. “USAID remains committed to supporting the Philippine government in building a future where digital technology drives inclusive growth, fosters resilient and democratic societies, and empowers all, including the most vulnerable.”

According to the Global Systems of Mobile Communications Association (GSMA), 52 million Filipinos living in areas already covered by mobile broadband do not use mobile internet. A significant number of them are women who face barriers such as the cost of phones and data, limited access to networks and electricity, and safety and security issues that include harassment. and online fraud.

“We continue to work with various partners to ensure that internet connectivity is widely available to all Filipinos. Through our efforts, we can certainly accelerate progress in the advancement of ICT and fulfill the promise of digital inclusion,” said Maria Victoria Castro, Undersecretary of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).

Speakers shared policy examples and innovations from other countries, such as reducing consumption taxes and import duties on handsets, offering flexible payment terms for underserved customer segments, providing targeted internet services and smartphone subsidies to female entrepreneurs and female-headed households, and increasing digital literacy. . The dialogue also highlighted existing policies and programs that support digital inclusion in the Philippines, including the updated Philippine Development Plan, the updated Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Plan, the national plan for broadband, the free Wi-Fi for all program and the Tech4ED project. .

Through its Better Access and Connectivity (BEACON) project, USAID helps improve the Philippines’ ICT and logistics infrastructure; strengthening the regulatory, business and innovation environment; and strengthen cybersecurity. To help bridge the digital divide, USAID also assists the government in its automation and digitization efforts and supports community networks to extend low-cost Internet access to underserved communities.